There are pivotal moments in life that are so important that they help us realign our priorities and readjust our direction in life. One such decisive moment came for me in my mid-twenties. I had been attending a very large annual conference for pastors for several years. The mega-church that hosted the event was impressive, and there were thousands of pastors in attendance. The pastor was a very charismatic person and a powerful speaker. The church had a remarkable array of different ministries to the community. Certainly, if the number of people who were interested in what this pastor had to say meant anything, then this was an important event.
During one of the events, the pastor shared a sermon that was very honed, entitled “The Carbon Copy Principle.” He said that for many years he believed that every person should try to be who they were meant to be, but that he had come to believe that was wrong. With observation, he realized that many people were floundering in life and they needed help. What they needed was to pattern their life after someone who was successful. Therefore, he had come to the important conclusion that every person who was struggling in life should find a good model and carbon copy their life to that model. Obviously, it seemed to be working for this man because he had a church of over 10,000, and in addition, there were thousands of pastors trying to copy everything about him.
The pastor emphasized his uncompromising commitment to preach the gospel and reach as many people as possible using a very dramatic story. He told about a talk he had with his young son, “Son, you know we have been to a lot of baseball games together, and we have had a lot of great times. Son, it hurts me to have to tell you that daddy has been to the last one because daddy now has to do what God wants him to do. God wants your daddy to win souls for Jesus.”
Although the speaker was very articulate and the illustration very dramatic (overly dramatic), it hit me the wrong way. The more I thought about it, the more I did not like it. The conference and the church were all very impressive—the numbers, the people, the ministries, the sermons, but this wasn’t for me. My pivotal moment came when I rejected the “Carbon Copy Sermon.” I determined I wanted to be at every event possible for my kids. The greater my commitment to God, the more available to them I wanted to be. That same day I determined to make my priority on being rather than doing. I would let what I did in life flow out of who I was. I wanted my marriage and family to be the number one priority in my life and ministry. Secondly, I didn’t want to be a copy of anyone else no matter how impressive they were. Furthermore, I did not want anyone to be a copy of me. Like Robert Frost many years ago, I chose the road less traveled, and I am grateful for where the journey has led.