What are You Gonna Be?

Fire Engine Halloween Costume


I remember growing up and from time to time some “big” person like an adult, teacher, parent or coach would ask me, “What are ya gonna be when you grow up?” I also find myself asking my nieces and nephews this question every now and then as well. I like to pick their brain and dialogue with them as they think through who they are, how they have been gifted and what they think they’re gonna do with all of that talent in the future. One is an electrician, another hopes to be a soccer coach, another hopes to be a history teacher, another a golf pro, and still another a vet. One recently told me she hopes to be a speech pathologist. These kids are amazing.

Back in 1994 we were all treated to the wonderful movie Forrest Gump. At one point in the movie Forrest’s girlfriend, Jenny, asks Forrest, “What are you gonna be when you grow up” to which Forrest replies, “Why can’t I just be me?” That, my friends, is your challenge – to be authentically you. Sounds so simple doesn’t it?  It’s not simple, actually. Lots and lots of other voices can get inside our heads and we forget the simple wisdom of what Forrest said, “Why can’t we just be us?” … whoever it is God made each of us to be?

Theologian Frederick Buechner once shared with a graduating class:

The voice we should listen to most as we choose a vocation is the voice that we think we should listen to the least, and that is the voice of our own gladness. What can we do that makes us the gladdest, what can we do that leaves us with the strongest sense of sailing true north …? Is it making things with our hands out of wood or stone or paint or canvas?  Or is it making something we hope like truth out of words?  Or is it making people laugh or weep in a way that cleanses their spirit?  I believe that if it is a thing that makes us truly glad, then it is a good thing and it is our thing and it is the calling voice that we were made to answer with our lives.  (excerpt from Windows of the Soul, Ken Gire, Zondervan, 1996, pg 71.)

When you get to heaven, I truly don’t think God is ever going to ask you – or me – why you weren’t more like Mother Teresa, Rick Warren, Oprah or Bono. I think God is more apt to ask you – and me – why we weren’t more like ourselves? Your responsibility and source of real freedom and success is to discover who you truly are. To lead with your unique talents and personality – to be authentically you – and to let God use you. Can you trust what makes you glad?

Peace friends,


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