Why You Are Not Unique

why you are not unique

Did you ever notice how the gospel of Luke starts?

I never noticed anything different about it until recently*. The gospel starts with this declaration by Luke

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. Luke 1:1-3

Luke kind of starts off saying, “I’m not doing anything extra-special“, “a couple of guys have done it too” “But here is my shot at it“.

But why would he invest his life in doing something so un-unique?

 

Unique, Really?

The mantra which has somehow sneaked into the church is that we must be unique or we must do something unique to matter. No one is ordinary and no one likes to do ordinary tasks. The new rules are:

1.You have to be the first – don’t play in any field where you have other people in. Create a new field

2.You have to be the best – if you can’t be the first, be the best there. Second place is for losers. Be the best or go home.

I bet you think there is really nothing wrong with these rules. They kind of sound nice since they foster innovation and creativity.

Assuming that is all they do. The problem with these rules is that they create in most of us a sense of personal superiority which alienates us from people.

We think that we have to be better than people around us or do something that they can’t do before we really matter. And so, begins the never-ending comparison game, which we must always win, with friends and colleagues – some even play it with their spouses!

The mantra which has somehow sneaked into the church is that we must be unique or we must do something unique to matter

Why You Are Not Unique

So, why do you think I am rambling about you not being unique? Well, it’s pretty simple.

First, no matter how hard you try, you cannot be first all the time. Second, being the best is a strain that you cannot sustain indefinitely. These two place a wrong weight of expectation and competition that you don’t need to

As the good preacher said, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecc 1:9.

 

But You Are Unique, Right?

I have gone on talking about why you are not unique. But to be honest, you are unique but just not in the way you think you are.

What you do is not unique but how you do it will always be unique. The reason for this is simple – how you do it comes from who you are.

A well-defined identity will always create a personal style and approach to addressing every challenge at hand.

Sometimes, instead of looking for something unique to do, all you have to do is do the un-unique thing in your own way

It’s not a unique vision, it’s just a unique way of doing it.

What you do is not unique but how you do it will always be unique

No Compelling Competitive Advantage 

Back to our Luke story

Did you know that Luke was not even a disciple when Jesus was alive?

Add to that the fact he is non-Jewish and you get a picture that the odds were stacked against him before he even stepped out the gate.

Do you notice from the opening text that Luke was doing the gospel write-up for ONE PERSON – Theophilus?

Can you imagine spending a huge chunk of your time and life compiling and transcribing by hand a gospel account for one guy?

By the way, there was nothing that would make Theophilus stick out to us. We never hear of him anywhere in the scripture other than in Luke’s introduction to the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts

Come to think of it, Luke was so interested in giving this Theo guy a firm footing in his faith that he didn’t stop at writing a gospel, he wrote the history of the church afterward in Acts just for him.

Sometimes, instead of looking for something unique to do, all you have to do is do the un-unique thing in your own way

The Un-Unique But Unique Gospel Of Luke

Despite the fact that Luke starts off telling us that what he is doing is not unique, he delivers a gospel account that is unique from all the other 3.

Earliest start date: His account starts from circa September 6 BC.

Certain story exclusives: Only his account has Mary’s Angelic visitation, John the Baptist birth, the genealogy of Jesus from His mother’s lineage, circumcision of Jesus at the temple, 12-year old Jesus at the temple, the parable of the good Samaritan, healing of the 10 lepers and so on.

–  His language reflects his training: As a doctor, he reports the that Simon’s mother-in-law had high fever, Mark & Mathew simply said she had fever. Check out how he talks about the woman with the issue of blood and her experience with doctors.

His language aligned to his audience: There are certain Jewish themed nuisances of the other gospels that would confuse gentile audiences. For example, in the parable of the mustard seed, Matthew records that it was planted in a field while Luke uses Garden (Matt 13:31, Luk 13:19) Luke’s choice is deliberate because the Greeks would understand “planting in a garden” while “planting in a field” would be lost in translation to them.

Despite the fact that Luke starts off telling us that what he is doing is not unique, he delivers a gospel account that is unique from all the other 3.

Lessons Learnt From Un-unique Luke

The effort that Luke put into writing the book of Luke and Acts teach some lessons that we can live out in this ever-increasing pursuit of uniqueness

1.The substance of what we do is not unique: You don’t have a one-never-to-be-seen-again mission in life. Sometimes, all you are there to do is add your voice to the narrative already in place

2.Same substance but different take: Luke’s gospel account offers a different perspective because of his training and cultural background. Don’t lose who you are to do what you have to do. Who you are improves your take.

3.Collaboration improves final delivery: Because Luke was not one of the earlier disciples, he had to collaborate with those who were around to develop a complete gospel account (Luk 1:3). By doing this, he was able to even add some accounts not included in the other gospels. You are not so unique that you can’t collaborate

4.Don’t let the audience define the quality you deliver: Avoid the “big audience, big performance; small audience, small performance” syndrome. Luke was writing for one man but he did such a good job that it is being read by billions for almost 2000 years

 

A Cue From Out There

Let me borrow an example from business culture. Having read the biographies of late Steve Jobs, I came to the conclusion that he did not set out to be different.

Yes, I know you’ll remind me of Apple advert – Think Different. In truth, he simply set out to reflect his take on a common problem.

His goal was not really “I want to do a unique thing”, rather it was “I want to do it in a way that reflects me”

This was why every product was seen as a reflection of who Steve Jobs. He wanted to the product to be an extension of his overall perspective on life and quality.

Apple products became the embodiment of Steve’s life philosophy and culmination of all his life experiences

 why you are not unique

Living The Not-So Unique Vision

Like Luke, we don’t need to always look for a unique vision or a new space. Sometimes, our calling is to do a regular or not-so-unique vision in our own way.

The way we do it becomes the offering that God accepts and the people around us appreciate.

Every day we must try to improve who we are in order to be able to bring our unique approach to answering the questions around us.

On a personal note, I almost did not start this blog. What I thought I was addressing did not seem unique enough. But I eventually decided, let me add my unique take to the not-so-unique vision

Thanks for consistently reading my personal take.

I look forward to experiencing your take on the common questions & problems around you.

Perhaps like Luke, by answering the question for one person, you end up serving billions of people.

Only time will tell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*I owe this perspective to Dr Alicia Britt Chole (Dr ABC for short) after listening to her sermon where she referred to one of the lessons learnt in her personal study of the book of Luke.

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Tola Akinsulire
 

A married guy with a precocious son who works his (I mean me, not my son – I bet you know, right?) day job as a financial guy trying to make real estate projects have some sense to the investor. I like to talk about what I learn along the way as I live my faith in life (family, work, friendships, fellowship, community and anything else you can put here).

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Temilade

Thanks Tola. This edition reminds of the song by Cohbams …. let us have a world of ordinary people living life the way God wants us to…
If we have a world of ordinary people..extraordinary things would happen thru me and you.

Whatever I do should always be my best.

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