The Greatest Advice I Ever (Accidentally) Received

The Greatest Advice I Ever (Accidentally) Received


Right out of college I started leading four-month backpacking teams around the world. We did trips through Central America and Asia.

Before I started, I had no idea what I was doing and was super insecure. So I went to check out a program in Colorado that I wanted to replicate. I tried to implement all of their disciplines and ideas into my program.

One month into our first trip I was exhausted. Trying to be like that other organization was wearing me out. I was horrible at it. It didn’t fit my personality.

I remember getting frustrated with the team. My insecurity flared up. Maybe I wasn’t the right person to be doing this thing. Maybe I wasn’t a strong enough leader or didn’t have the skills to pull this off.

About six weeks into the trip our team did a five-day hike through the mountains of western Guatemala, taking the Jesus Film to really remote indigenous villages. A team member named Joel could sense I was getting frustrated. At one point on the trail he and I were hiking together. I don’t remember exactly what led up to the moment, but he said something that stuck with me. “Joël, you know I came on this trip because I believed in you. So just be you. That’s who we like.”

Talk about relief. It was like a million pounds off my back. I realized that I didn’t need to be like that other program to have success. I needed to do what God called me to do based on the unique person I was. And that was enough.

I’ve concluded that Joel’s accidental advice was the best advice I’ve ever received.

Just be you.

The greatest gift you can give to God and the world is to be you. God made you. He likes how he made you. Sure, you can learn from others, but you’ll never succeed trying to be exactly like them. It will wear you out. You need to be you, with all your weirdness.

Just be you. We like you.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Ps. 139:14