Authored by Dan Roselle
Be yourself! Has anyone given you that piece of advice before? It’s counsel that definitely applies to friendships.
When you meet someone new, especially someone who attracts your interest, you probably want to put your best foot forward. That’s natural. Or maybe you’ve casually known someone for a long time in school or in a work environment, but you notice that a closer friendship is developing. You don’t want to make a mistake that will hurt the budding friendship. So what do you say? How do you act? We all want to be appreciated, loved, accepted, and respected, but does it mean we have to change who we are to get that?
In order to be yourself around others, you have to know who “you” are and be comfortable with it. Your opinion of yourself affects all your relationships—your relationship with God as well as with other people. Many times people can’t keep good friendships because they don’t even like themselves—so why should anyone else? Now, it’s important to understand that “being yourself” is not about trying to be different just so you don’t look or act like others do. It also doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t want to strive for progress in various areas of your life. It’s not about letting everything—including the bad—show, and not caring about who you are.
When you are yourself, you’re at peace with whom God has made you to be—with the appearance, skills, personality, strengths, and weaknesses that you’ve been given, and you’re at peace with your life—what you’ve been through and where you are today. As Paul put it in Philippians 4:11, it’s a state of contentment, regardless of your situation or feelings or anything.
It’s like that old poem you probably know about Feeling, Faith, and Fact. The three were walking on the wall and first Feeling, then Faith, fell off the wall. Fact was the only one left standing, and he pulled up Faith, and Faith pulled up Feeling. Fact is God’s Word, and in His Word He shows that He loves you, He created you, He wants to help you through your experiences in life, and He wants you to be happy. Don’t let your feelings stop you from having the peace that Jesus wants to give you.
You might wonder how you can be at peace with who you are—with how God has made you and the life you’ve been blessed to live. I read an article called “Succeeding at Being Yourself,”1 and the author presented three points that can help us do just that. These points are:
1. Speak the things God says about you. 2. Don’t compare yourself to other people. 3. Focus on your strengths and not your weaknesses.
Let’s examine each of those points, what the Bible says about it, and how you can do it.
Number 1: Speak the things God says about you. This has nothing to do with your feelings—how you feel about yourself—as oftentimes our feelings can be quite negative. If we determine our identity and self-worth by what we feel about ourselves, most of us would feel pretty worthless most of the time. What does the Bible say about the power of words or the effect of the spoken word?
James 3:5–6 says, “The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”2
Imagine that: the tongue—or rather, the words we speak—is capable of setting the whole course of one’s life on fire. Our words can affect the outcome of our lives. That’s raw power.
In Matthew 12:37 Jesus says: “By your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”3 What we say also matters to God.
Proverbs 18:21 says: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”4 By the words we speak either to others or about ourselves, we can bring life or death. If we speak uplifting words that encourage, give hope, and build faith—that’s giving life. If what we speak brings on discouragement, depression, negativity, or self-loathing, that’s giving death.
The Bible also tells you how God sees you. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”5 As you read and study the Bible, especially the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ life, you’ll discover how wonderfully God views you, and that can give you a fresh and positive perspective on yourself. So speak positive words about yourself—focus on your good attributes and on how God sees you—and speak those uplifting words out loud to yourself. It will build you up in a good way. It will encourage you. It will help you have a positive view of yourself. And when you can see yourself positively, you’ll transmit a positive image to others, and it will make people want to be around you. Positiveness is attractive.
Just as reading the Bible can help you to gain a positive perspective of yourself, so can hanging out with positive friends who support and care about you, and engaging in activities that you find wholesome and uplifting. When we surround our self with positive people or activities, it affects our attitude—it helps us to feel positive as well.
Number 2: Don’t compare yourself to other people. When we negatively compare ourselves to others, the results are generally sad. How do you feel after comparing with someone? Depressed? Unlovely? Ugly? Dumb?
Paul wrote, “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?”6 When we start comparing with others, we’re in essence criticizing God, telling Him that He could’ve done a better job in creating us. But God made us just how He wanted us; we’re perfect to Him. King David wrote a beautiful praise to God in Psalm 139, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful.”7 The Lord did a beautiful job when He created you—and this includes not only your features and physical appearance, but your personality, your natural talents and interests—your inner self.
Paul also wrote: “Let your conversation” or conduct, behavior, way of life, “be without covetousness,” or comparing, “and be content with such things as ye have.”8
The apostle Peter at one time compared himself to another disciple. John 21:20–22 says, “Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. When Peter saw him, he asked, ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.’”9
Jesus was saying that it’s pointless to compare ourselves with others, when all that should really matter is our life in relation to His—our relationship with Him.
Instead of comparing yourself with others, focus on valuing yourself because God values you! If you can avoid comparing and learn to enjoy how God has made you, not only will you be a lot more enjoyable to be around, but you will begin to like yourself a lot better as well.
Number 3: Focus on your strengths and not your weaknesses. While it is helpful to know what your weaknesses are, as that can help you to understand yourself better, it’s not good to make that your focal point. Be aware of your weak points, but focus on your strengths.
When you start to focus on your strengths, it’s good to remember the passage from I Corinthians 12, which is the chapter about spiritual gifts. Paul wrote, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.”10 And that includes you! Later on in the chapter he tells us that some have different talents—some are teachers, some are administrators or managers, some speak different languages, etc. It’s not like everyone is a teacher or everyone can speak a lot of languages. Each person has something special. Discover what is special about you and then, focus on that.
Think of what you like to do, whether sports, cooking, study, gardening, computer programming, or maybe you relate to children easily, or you tell some pretty good stories. Find what it is that you like and enjoy doing and learn how to do it better. Remember that strengths aren’t necessarily physical talents or skills, but they can be personal virtues too, like love, kindness, fairness, forgiveness, gratitude, humor, integrity, creativity, and much more.
Here’s a little reflection that could be helpful to you in this way. Identify times that you failed and succeeded throughout your life. It could be related to your school or sports team, or related to your family’s goals, or your own goals, etc. In addition, think about why you succeeded or failed. Was your success due to experiencing a learning curve, or having an excellent coach, or hearing an encouraging compliment when you needed it? Think about what motivates you to succeed or be good at something, and conversely what makes it hard for you to excel or to want to progress. Reflecting on your successes can help you to gain confidence and in turn find value in yourself.
Jesus said in Mark 12:31 that we should “love our neighbor as we love ourselves.” It’s hard to imagine that we’d be able to show love and respect and appreciation for others if we hardly love, respect, and appreciate things in ourselves. Learn to love who God has made you to be. Learn to appreciate the positive things about you. Remind yourself that God paid careful attention when He created you and He loves you just the way you are! You are a unique individual; there is no one else in the world just like you. You have been specifically designed by God to be someone special in this world. Celebrate that specialness!
As you try to apply these three simple principles, you will come to accept the wonderful, unique individual that God has created you to be; you will become at peace with who you are. And that peace and contentment will not only have a positive effect on you, but on your friendships as well. Why not try it and see what it does for you?
1 Succeeding at Being Yourself
2 New International Version.
3 English Standard Version.
4 King James Version.
5 New Living Translation.
6 Romans 9:20–21 NIV.
7 Psalm 139:13–14 NIV.
8 Hebrews 13:5 KJV.
9 New International Version.
10 I Corinthians 12:7 NLT.
Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). (CC). Copyright © 2011 by The Family International