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How to be DifFeREnT like everyone else

Just because one person has done it, does this imply – everyone else can?

Climb a mountain; start a business; champion a social cause; win an Olympic medal and similar feats. It’s very appealing – and so egalitarian – to think that we are all inherently equally capable. Think of the potential of a blank page or a newborn baby. Who knows what achievements or undertakings might emerge? Don’t despise the day of small things (Zech 4:10).

After all, everything has to begin somewhere, sometime; birthed as a seed of thought. They may sound rather preposterous at that early stage but when accomplished, they stand testimony to hope endured.

But if everyone can, then why are so few doing it?

I recall that while in Secondary School, a teacher confidently stated that for every Olympic champion, there were 10 others who could do the same – but did not for various reasons or excuses (lack of opportunity; lack of discipline; unawareness; etc). So even top-notch champions are not that rare! Hopefully, our well-meaning teacher wanted to inspire us to accept challenges and obstacles and run our own race well.

Maybe it’s something like “many are called but few are chosen”?

Which. Well. Ok.

Top achievers belong to a small tribe. They spin off from both nature and nurture. To begin with, the person must be naturally gifted and endowed – whether in sports, music, the arts, business acumen, etc. Powered by strong desire, add the impetus of positive discipline, and they’re off.

We know the spiel: “If you think you can, you can!” The essence is to get the ball rolling. Momentum kicks in. Secretly, some may even be motivated to believe that all things being equal, they are slightly more equal than others. Good try, but why not? The renowned storyteller Garrison Keillor expressed this in his famous parting shot about the imaginary hometown of Lake Wobegon – “where the women are strong, the men good-looking and all the children are above average”.

Dreams die hard. Even they defy logic. Keep pursuing.

We know accomplishments usually demand a high price – they require feats of strength, speed, smartness, sacrifice, skill or something special. In short, pay the price to gain the value. Excellence doesn’t come cheap or easy. Yet, it’s freely available and up for grabs. The possibility is there. And until you try, you may never know. Give it a try.

What holds us back? The tendency is to prefer the warmth and welcome of being like everyone else. Blend in and be undistinguished. Don’t attract attention to yourself. Keep your head low – for the tall poppy gets cut down!

But what if the challenge to be different – and really stand out – comes from God? The goal is straightforward: to be like Jesus. Nothing less.

God particularly wants what’s really the best for us. It must come from Him and return to Him. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (Jas 1:17).

But what if the challenge to be different – and really stand out – comes from God? The goal is straightforward: to be like Jesus. Nothing less.

To be like Jesus. Not Moses or Elijah or David or Paul or Esther or Mary. Any one of the biblical heroes or heroines would have been more than enough for most of us. Matthew 3:17 "And behold a voice from heaven said, 'This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased'" helps us focus on two points: much beloved by the Father and well-pleasing to Him.

The great goal of life on earth is not attainment of housing, transportation, education, income, wealth or even social networks. But to know the Father’s will and do what pleases Him. And concurrently, resist the world squeezing us into its mould (Romans 12:2 JB Phillips).

Be alert. Even the “successful” doing of God’s will could bring the world’s seduction. Paul and Barnabas had just healed the crippled man at Lystra (Acts 14). The crowds treated them like gods! Their response? Marshall Segal described it well: “No, they ran from their raving fans as fast as possible … And they knew the roots of the crowd’s flattering idolatry would eventually kill each and everyone of them. So they confronted them, risking their skyrocketing social statuses, with a brave call to worship the living God and live.”

They chose to be like Jesus and sought those much-looked-for words: “Well done” (Mt 25:23).

It’s do-able. That’s the difference.

Dr Andrew Goh is the honorary editor of Impact magazine.


VOL. 46 NO. 3 of IMPACT Magazine

GOD' UNCOMMON CHOICE... Living in the sustaining grace of Divine providence by Corné J Bekker


THE OIL THAT NEVER RUNS DRY... An interview with Tan Lai Yong

A WORLD WITHOUT PROLONGED THIRST... A God-driven business by David Pong

VIENNA'S DREAM... Dakota Dreams by Chan Wai Han


~ The IMPACT Panel Responds ~

A SEEMINGLY MORBID CALLING... An interview with a Christian embalmer and a funeral director

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