Excerpt from John Ortberg's The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God's Best Version of You.
When a young shepherd boy named David was preparing for battle against Goliath, King Saul stepped in to help. But he made the mistake we so often make in other battles: He figured that whatever would be helpful to him would also be helpful to David. So King Saul — who stood "head and shoulders" above every man in Israel — dressed up David in his own tunic and armor, crowned him with his helmet, and armed him with his sword. David "tried walking around" in them, the Bible says, but it was no use. Saul was a size 52 long and David was a 36 regular. Saul was a warrior; David was a shepherd. Saul was a man; David was a teenager. The very things that would help Saul in a battle would only hinder David…
Fortunately, David had enough self-awareness and courage to name the problem. "I cannot go in these," David said, "because I am not used to them." David had to set aside Saul's equipment and use what would help him — a sling, some stones, and nimble feet — and Saul ended up sending David with the best help he could give: "Go, and the Lord be with you."
"Saul was a warrior; David was a shepherd… [Sometimes we] are like David, trying to walk around in Saul's armor." -John Ortberg
The greatest battle of life is spiritual. It is the struggles with resentment and anger and greed and superiority that keep me from living in the flow with God. How often in spiritual life do we get burdened because we try to wield weapons that have helped someone else in the battle? We hear about how someone else prays, or reads Scripture to start or end their day, or worships, or studies, or serves — and we feel guilty if we don't do the same. We get frustrated because what works for someone else is not helpful to us. We are like David, trying to walk around in Saul's armor…
[God is a Hand-crafter]
The key is not treating every [person] alike; it is finding the unique conditions that help each [person] grow…
Our great model for this is God himself, for he always knows just what each person needs.
He had Abraham take a walk, Elijah take a nap, Joshua take a lap, and Adam take the rap.
He gave Moses a forty-year time out, he gave David a harp and a dance, and he gave Paul a pen and a scroll.
He wrestled with Jacob, argued with Job, whispered to Elijah, warned Cain, and comforted Hagar.
He gave Aaron an altar, Miriam a song, Gideon a fleece, Peter a name, and Elisha a mantle.
God is a hand-crafter, not a mass-producer.
Jesus was stern with the rich young ruler, tender with the woman caught in adultery, patient with the disciples, blistering with the scribes, gentle with the children, and gracious with the thief on the cross. God never grows two people the same way. God is a hand-crafter, not a mass-producer.
Now it is your turn. God has existed from eternity — but he has never had a relationship with you before. He wants to do a new thing with you. The problem many people face when it comes to spiritual growth is that they listen to someone they think of as the expert — maybe the pastor of their church — talk about what he does, and think that is what they are supposed to do. When it doesn't work for them — because they are a different person! — they feel guilty and inadequate; they often give up.
Trying to grow spiritually without taking who you are into account is like trying to raise children on an assembly line. If you train an 80-pound gymnast and a 300-pound linebacker exactly the same, you will end up with two useless 190-pound people.
What, then, do I need to know to learn how God wants to help me grow? … Here is a question: What do you do that makes you feel fully alive?
(Images & some styling above are web-exclusive features not included in the text ofthe Me I Want to Be. Image attribution: painting c. 1897, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. This post does not represent the views of Zondervan or any of its representatives. The writer's personal opinions are shared only for information purposes. To receive new Zondervan Blog posts in your reader or email inbox, subscribe to Zondervan Blog.)