I am going to work with a legend.
Ok, maybe “legend” is a bit strong of a word. In fact, if he were sitting here, he would throw down some sort of joke to lighten the weight of that compliment. Regardless of what he says, God has used him to help people understand the grace of God and how it can be applied in the family.
Dr. Tim Kimmel has written somewhere around 15 books. Most people know him because of his books – Grace Based Parenting, Little House on the Freeway, and Raising Kids for True Greatness. Many have read them and have been set free to see God for who He really is, as laid out in the Bible. This, in turn, has transformed many families.
So just the other night he and I are sitting on the back patio of this nice hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona. We were there for a few hours, simply gawking at how nice it was. Not only that, but we were catching the second half of Monday Night Football, and dreaming about what the future might look like for the ministry of Family Matters.
That was it. Nothing big. Nothing exciting. But in middle of that conversation he said something that packed a punch – enough to make me stop and listen.
Tim and I are very different. He thinks philosophically. I am a strategist. He is A.D.D. (off the charts). I am not. He founded the ministry of Family Matters 30 years ago. I’m just now joining the team.
As the conversation went on, the differences were becoming more clear. I finally stated the obvious.
“Tim,” I said, “I am not coming to Family Matters to try to become the next Tim Kimmel. I don’t know that I will ever write many books or speak internationally on issues pertaining to the family. What I do know is that God’s grace has set me free, and that I love my family. I’m here to help move this ministry forward so that many other families will be transformed by the grace of God.”
He didn’t skip a beat in his quick response.
Kevin, do you know who I want you to become? The next Kevin East. That’s it.”
And with that, I sat back and tried to let those words sink in.
What about you?
Why is it that we see someone we respect and then get down on ourselves because we aren’t more like them. Maybe it’s a friend of yours who always seems to be the life of the party, or a big brother or sister that always seemed to get it right. Worse yet, maybe it’s a mom or dad who didn’t quite seem pleased with your best effort.
This started off cute. When I was young I saw Rocky, and then I wanted to become a boxer. After watching Red Dawn I wanted to stockpile deer rifles and become a Wolverine. Truth be told, I saw Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo and wanted to become a break dancer. I know, I know…..
What is the result of this constant comparison? Frustration. Shame. Insecurity. Doubt. Fear.
With this in mind, here a a few questions to consider:
1. Who are you trying to become? Do you realize you will never be a good them? You will never be as outgoing, as smart or as gifted as you think they are. The Deceiver has you fooled into thinking trying to be them will make you a better you. Not true. It only makes you more tired and less satisfied.
2. Who is looking to you to discover who they are? Do your kids hear you talk with excitement about their future? Do they hear from you that their uniquenesses are such gifts? Just tonight, my oldest son was frustrated with himself because of a part of his physical appearance. He and I sat and talked through his tears about how God created us perfectly and uniquely. If you aren’t intentional in telling your kids this, they will always question themselves because of it.
3. What can you do to set people free? Trust me, someone looks up to you. I don’t know who it is, or how many there are, but someone does. Free them of your expectations by speaking boldly to them about how they are gifted. Let them know the impact you see they could have on this world. Write it down. Mail them a letter.
A couple of weekends ago I met a young man at a church. He gave me a big hug and told me when he was in 6th grade I made a comment to a bunch of junior high students about how cool I thought he was. He said it made his day, and that he so appreciated that vote of confidence in him. That was 20 years ago, and he still remembers it vividly.
God has a good, gracious plan for your life. You might become a great scientist, a faithful husband, or a superb history teacher. Lean into Him, and let him direct your steps. And then as you walk, be sure to try to remind others as well.
Have you always tried to be like someone else? If so, who?