By Michael C. Mack
You do you.
When managing editor Jim Nieman asked what I’ve learned over the last year and a half as Christian Standard editor, this is the first thing that came to mind.
You do you. It’s a common catchphrase in today’s culture that means “Just be yourself.” (It can also be used as a sarcastic response to someone who is doing something simply because they want to. Pastor Jeremy: “My new 10-week sermon series is titled, ‘Spiritual Lessons from Paddington 2.’” Elder Frank: “You do you, pal.” Or . . . Student: “I’m having Declaration and Address tattooed on the inside of my left forearm, so I never forget how to think and act.” Professor: “You do you, dude.”)
In my case, “you do you” is what I’ve sensed God quietly telling me about my role. Let me explain. As Mark Taylor neared retirement as publisher and editor, I talked with him on the phone one day. Jerry Harris had already been announced as the new publisher, but the new editor had not been hired. I offhandedly asked Mark about it, and he told me he thought I’d do well in the job. Within days I was talking with Jerry and soon prayerfully accepted the position.
But I secretly wondered if I was the right person for the role. I thought about the 11 distinguished editors over the history of Christian Standard, especially the last two—Mark Taylor and Sam Stone—whom I had worked with at Standard Publishing. I admired both men for their faith, character, and leadership, and I wondered if I could fill their huge wingtips. It didn’t help much when a friend and former ministry colleague stopped me at the North American Christian Convention last year and jokingly referred to me as the new “pope of the Restoration Movement,” a title with which Sam Stone was dubbed in jest years ago. When I repeated the story to a mutual friend of ours, he did his best Lloyd Bentsen impersonation: “I know Sam Stone. I served with Sam Stone. Mike, you’re no Sam Stone.”
In other words, “You do you, pal.”
He was right, of course. I’m no Sam Stone or Mark Taylor . . . or Isaac Errett.
And you’re probably no Bob Russell, Dudley Rutherford, or Ben Cachiaras.
I’ve learned that I don’t have to be anything other than whom God created me to be. He created me uniquely, in his image, and for his purpose. He created me and continues to re-create me with a one-of-a-kind combination of spiritual gifts, passions, personality, life circumstances, and calling. When I do me well, I can empty myself and allow God to fill me up with his love, wisdom, power, grace, patience, and everything else I lack. I free myself for God’s sake to be an instrument he can use in any way he wants.
I can look back now and see how God was leveraging all my previous experiences and the spiritual gifts and passions he gave me for this role. To answer Jim’s question, I’ve learned—actually I’ve been reminded once again—that God is in control and I simply need to trust him. God used his Word, especially verses like Jeremiah 1:5 and Ephesians 2:10, to tell me, “I created you as a masterpiece and I know you more than you understand; I’ve had a plan for you even before you were born and I know what I’m doing. Don’t try to do what I created others to do. You do you—the you I created and gifted and love.”
One day God will call each one of us home. “Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth,” he said in Isaiah 43:6, 7 . . . “everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”
And he might just say to us when we meet him face-to-face, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You’ve been a humble steward of how I created you, with the gifts I gave you, through the people I put around you, in the circumstances I put in front of you—all for my glory. Well done. You did you.”