by Cheri Gregory

I should be more like him.

As I sit through the memorial service for a truly amazing man—a beloved teacher and pastor to so many—this one thought plays over and over in my head.

I should be more like him.

Whenever Jon preached about God’s grace, he’d break down in tears, so great was his gratitude toward his Savior. His death opens a Grand Canyon-sized hole in our school and church community that none of us can even begin to fill.

I should be more like him.

But I don’t know how.

The “Should Be’s” Overtook Me

During conversation after the memorial service, Tim Z, our AP History teacher, asks me how my AP English students are doing.

“Do you think you’ll ever go back to teaching sophomore English?” he asks.

“No,” I reply. “I don’t have the patience for students who refuse to read. If they hate books, I don’t want to deal with them.”

Tim’s eyes light up. “Oh, I just love the kids who come into my class hating history!”

I stare, partly in admiration and partly in shame.

I should be more like him.

Tim talks animatedly. “I see every history-hating student as a future history major. I make it my personal challenge to figure out what it takes to help them change their minds.”

I nod dumbly.

I should be more like him.

But I don’t know how.

Accepting That I’m Exactly Who I’m Supposed to Be

I linger in the church after the memorial service, pondering the legacy of Jon Speyer and mulling over my conversation with Tim Z.

I should be more like them.

But how?

Train myself to cry when I talk about God? Force myself to enjoy aliterate students?

No.

Trying to be someone I’m not isn’t the answer.

What if …

A new thought begins to sprout, like a seed pushing up through the soil.

What if I quit trying to be more like him or them? 

What if I start trying to be … (dare I say it) … more like me?

Nothing more or less than exactly who God created me to be.

I Stopped Worrying and Started Listening

It’s been four years since this epiphany.

Since I started regularly asking, “Who did God create me to be?” and really listening for the answer.

The tool that’s helped me keep the answer front-and-center as I make decisions throughout my work day is my Personal Manifesto.

One page of Spirit-led words that declares, “This is who I am and who I aspire, through God’s grace and power, to become.”

personal manifesto

Two Things Your Personal Manifesto Will Do for You

Your Personal Manifesto says, “This is it!”

Which can be interpreted two different ways:

1 — Through your Personal Manifesto, you declare who you are.

Your Personal Manifesto is not an itemized list of who a parent or teacher or spouse or child or boss—not even a beloved role model—expects you to be.

Your Personal Manifesto is a pray-cessed expression of who God has created you to be.

2 — Through your Personal Manifesto, you define who you are not.

It helps you define who God did not create you to be, for yourself and others. This can be downright terrifying for those of us who are used to being “all things to all people.”

It’s your God-guided assertion that you’re done trying to be someone you’re not. (No matter how much others may want you to keep trying.)

 

There’s nothing wrong with having a role model or seeking out mentors. But our goal should never be trying to be more like him or her or them.

Your goal is to always listen to Him.

Who does He say you are?


 

Instead of making New Year’s resolutions (that will only last for a week), how about creating a Personal Manifesto that will carry you through the rest of your life? Sign up for great ideas and resources about how to get out from Overwhelmed and you will receive “How to Write Your Personal Manifesto” as our gift to you. Get off the overwhelming cycle of making and breaking resolutions and create a gentle plan for lasting life change.

And learn more about living out a life out of overwhelmed in our new book, Overwhelmed, How to Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity.


personal manifestoCheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. Her passion is helping women break free from destructive expectations. She writes and speaks from the conviction that “how to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.”

Cheri is the co-author, with Kathi Lipp, of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life and Overwhelmed.

Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, her opposite personality, for twenty-eight years and is “Mom” to Annemarie (25) and Jonathon (24), also opposite personalities.

Are you a Highly Sensitive Person?  Take the self-quiz and discover the surprising strengths of a tender heart.

 

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