Men, be you—surrendered to Christ. No one can do it for you because no one else has your unique and strategic ministry opportunity. But never forget that you are united to Christ and a member of his body. Apart from Christ, you can do nothing. Your spiritual gifting is to point to him and build up his church. God does not need you, but by his grace, he has uniquely called you and gifted you, spend and be spent for his glory.
Who are you? What gives a man his identity? Answering those questions truthfully is essential to living a life of purpose and significance.
The great English Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon’s book, An All-Around Ministry, contains Presidential Addresses he delivered at the Annual Pastors’ Conferences (1872-1890). One of the lectures that has profoundly impacted me is titled, “Individuality, and its Opposite.” He explained his topic saying,
I want to show that each one of us is a man by himself, and then that no one is alone by himself. Our individuality and our fellowship, our personality and our union with the Lord, our separate existence and our absorption into Christ;—these are the themes upon which I am going to dilate (An All-Round Ministry, Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 60).
Spurgeon points to Paul’s assertion, “I worked harder than any of them, yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me” (1 Cor. 15:10b, CSB). He notes that Paul’s “I, yet not I” is a helpful way for a man to think about his unique God-given personality and gifting. Consider how thinking about our life in this way can unleash a man to live for God’s glory.
Individuality – I
Spurgeon warns against prideful egotism but advocates what he calls humble egoism, which he describes as “honest selfhood” (62). He explains, “We hope that each man will recognize and honorably maintain his personality” (62). He warns that it is a tragic thing for a man to live with a “counterfeit voice” (72). Spurgeon explains, “Men are not cast in molds by the thousand; we are each one distinct from his fellow” (73). He further exhorts, “Be yourself, dear brother, for, if you are not yourself, you cannot be anybody else; and so, you see, you must be nobody” (73).