A Bee or Not a Be

Recently I was asked by a pastor friend to write a letter or words of encouragement to his son who was feeling his call into ministry. My words would be coupled with those of other leaders into a special book for the young man’s upcoming birthday celebration. Here’s what I wrote provided in hopes it will strengthen you in your ministry journey as well.

My rendition of an old cliché says, let me put a “be” in your bonnet or a “be” in your cap. No mistake there. I actually meant “be” instead of “bee.” If you were wearing a hat and a bee flew into it, you’d be focused on that bee. It would—excuse the pun—really be “bugging” you. It would immediately become something you were passionate about. You wouldn’t be able to get it out of your mind and off your head. It would become your number one obsession and intricate part of your mission in life. It would be something you want and by all means you would do just about anything to get it. Now. Perpetually. A lifetime goal!

But, I’m not talking about a “bee” but “be.” The same applies. When you decide you want to “be” something for God it becomes paramount; your one burning desire. It is your focus, passion, and mission. You won’t be able to get it out of your head, your heart, or your spirit. It will consume you. So, life becomes a little like what Shakespeare said in Hamlet, “To be, or not to be: that is the question.”

Some spend a lot of time on where God wants them to “go.” They are concerned with “location.” Some spend ample time on what God wants them to “do.” They are grappling for a “vocation.” Both are important and have their place in God’s plan. However, I suggest the majority of time should be poured into what God wants us to “be.” Often we view “calling” as what we ought to do when “calling” is more about what we ought to “be.” When the people of Antioch studied the believers, they called them “Christians.” It had little to do with their location or vocation, but a whole lot to do with their lifestyle. They had become Christ-like!

After serving God for more than thirty years I have a burning, daily desire to “be” on the inside what I profess to “be’ on the outside. I’m not talking about letting up on outward standards of righteousness and holiness. God forbid. But, it seems easier to have everything right on the outside and yet still struggle with the battle on the inside. God is interested in character; what we are when no one is watching. With the Apostle Paul I pray for you “…to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16, NKJV). Win the battle. It takes a daily sacrifice. When you fall and fail, get up again, brush yourself off, and keep moving on the journey.

I don’t like to hear or use the word “hypocrite” and I most certainly don’t want to “be” one. A hypocrite is a fake, counterfeit, and someone that pretends. It comes from the Greek and refers to play-acting; someone that hides behind a mask. “Be” genuine, vulnerable, and the real deal. Practice what you preach. Better still, preach what you practice.

Scrolling down through Titus 2 I am amazed with the number of times “be” is mentioned. Here’s just one: “Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with  purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us” (Titus 2:6-8, NASU).

An unknown author mentioned, “’Your task…to build a better world,’ God said. I answered, ‘How? The world is such a large, vast place, and there’s nothing I can do.’ But God in all His wisdom said, ‘Just build a better you.’” That is a journey that takes a lifetime.