We Don't Need Another Jordan
Michael Jordan led North Carolina to an NCAA championship a few days before I was born. He won back-to-back Slam Dunk Contests when I was starting elementary school. He won his first NBA championship before I turned 10. He announced his retirement not long after I started middle school. And he came out of retirement before I finished 8th grade.
So when I was growing up, it felt like Michael Jordan was everywhere. From his games to highlights on ESPN, to commercials for Nike and Gatorade, it felt like you couldn't turn on the TV with seeing MJ.
And there was good reason for that. Michael Jordan was unquestionably the greatest player in NBA history. And that meant that when he finally hung up his sneakers for good, he left a huge void.
And, as a kid, I remember the NBA trying to fill that void. At one point or another, it seemed like every big up-and-comer was labeled "The Next Michael Jordan." It happened to Vince Carter and Anfernee Hardaway. It happened to Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. It even happened to Harold Miner -- after he won the dunk contest in 1993.
But the NBA's search for the next Michael Jordan went far beyond just labeling some promising young players. It also shaped the way that a lot of young players tried to play the game. Vince Carter and Harold Miner tried to dunk like Jordan. Kobe and LeBron tried to take over games like Jordan -- especially when they were just starting out.
And I think the same thing happens to young ministers as they're starting out -- especially in an age when you can literally listen to any pastor you want anytime you want. So there are times when I listen to a colleague preach that I can hear the impact that Andy Stanley, or Craig Groeschel, or Steven Furtick have made on their preaching.
And the truth is that early in my ministry I wasn't any different. I mean, I didn't know who any of those guys were when I started into ministry 12 years ago, but I did try to imitate the ministers that I had grown up listening to.
So it took me a while to realize that the church didn't need me to imitate any other preacher, just like the NBA didn't need LeBron or Kobe to try to be like Mike. What the church needed was for me to be me. And the church needs you to be you.
The church needs you to be you.
Whether you realize it or not, God has gifted you in a completely unique way. So you may not be able to tell a story like Andy Stanley or get as passionate as Steven Furtick...but you can do something that only you can do.
And God has placed you wherever you are in ministry to do just that. That's right, God has placed you in your church just like God put Andy, and Craig, and Steven where they are at. And their churches wouldn't be what they are today, and they wouldn't reach they're reaching today with anyone else behind their pulpits.
And your church can't be who God want it to be, and it can't reach who God wants it to reach without you. So the first word of encouragement that I would offer any minister is to be yourself. God didn't make a mistake when God made you, and God didn't make a mistake when he called you to your church.
Your church needs you. So don't try to be like Mike. Be like you.