Encourage “You”

May 8, 2020

Categories: Authenticity

A few years ago, I helped lead a college mission trip to Guatemala through my church. We partnered with Habitat for Humanity, and spent a week working on building two houses. Over the course of the trip, one of the things I felt God leading me to do was to recognize and appreciate the unique personalities of all the college students on the trip.

Some students were outgoing, whereas others were quiet.

Some students really loved the physical labor aspect of the week, whereas others came alive in the social times.

During devotions, some students asked probing intellectual questions, whereas others had a deep appreciation for faith and mystery.

Differences are Good

As I noticed all the college students and their unique differences, I felt like God was telling me this was a good thing. He designed the variability. And I should explore and encourage these differences.

You see, I often struggle with this in my own life. I might get frustrated with some aspect of my personality, and wish I were different. Or I might judge myself because I don’t fit a certain mold or idea I have in my head about how a person should be.

But the truth is, we are all different.

Some people are introverts, and other people are extroverts. Some people are conscientious, and other people are more relaxed. Some people like a consistent structure, and other people are more open to new experiences.

And that’s all okay.

Award Ceremony

At the end of the week, we had an award ceremony. The team leaders and I got together, and we brainstormed awards for each of the college students on the trip. We thought about what stood out to us about each student, and crafted an award to match that part of the student.

One student got an award for being the most hardworking. Another student received an award for being the most encouraging. A third student got an award for having the most inquisitive questions during devotional time. And so it went.

As I was thinking about this idea during the week, I received something cool for myself as well. I started to feel more love and compassion for myself, even for the rougher parts of my personality. I felt more comfortable being the unique person I am. As someone who has struggled with that for much of my life, it was a gift.

Appreciate the Uniqueness of “You”

My encouragement for you today is put aside your preconceived notions about what is cool and try to appreciate the unique individuality of yourself and others. You have a specific set of genes and life experiences that have led you to the point where you are today. The specific combination that is “you” is special, and I believe you have a unique place and contribution to make in this world. Instead of trying to change yourself and others to meet some arbitrary standard, what if you more deeply engaged with your true self? You might be surprised at what you find.


Do you struggle to accept all parts of yourself, especially the parts that are different? What is one step you could make today toward celebrating the uniqueness of yourself and others?


Related Thoughts

No Comments

  1. Jen August 13, 2014 at 9:57 am - Reply

    Wow, timely post. I’ve been thinking about these things this week after a sermon about everyone having an indispensable role to play in the body of Christ. Figuring out my role has been a lifelong struggle for me, but I think I may have just had a breakthrough last night.

    I took a spiritual gifts inventory, which I’ve done before and never gained much clarity from. For some reason it seemed more obvious and helpful this time. Maybe I know myself better or am more willing to accept myself. My highest rated gift is serving. I think why I’ve struggled with identity is because my gift is rather fluid — filling in the gaps in no one particular way. I often wish I had a more specific design or calling, but I think I’m ready to embrace this gift for what it is.

    I think I may be struggling more lately because I haven’t been able to serve the church as much since having Emily. I am thinking through some options I might have to use my gifts even with my limited time and energy.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

    • Josh Hook August 13, 2014 at 1:20 pm - Reply

      Interesting thoughts Jen. I do think it might be more difficult when our particular wiring or gifting might be more fluid, like you said. There’s also the issue of acceptance-I know I have sometimes have the tendency to want to be gifted in a certain way that I’m not, but then it’s like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Also, interesting idea about how your service might change with the transition to parenthood. I bet there are a lot of parents in that situation. Maybe you should start a blog too! 🙂

  2. […] thing that happened was I felt like God was telling me to appreciate how everyone on the trip was unique and different. I felt like God wanted me to notice and encourage each person on the trip about how God had […]

  3. […] remember a few years ago I helped lead a college student mission trip to Guatemala. As a group, we helped build two houses for Habitat for Humanity. One of the things I remember most […]

Leave A Comment

Subscribe To My Newsletter

Join my mailing list to receive the latest blog posts.

Receive my e-book “The Mental Health Toolkit” for free when you subscribe.