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Only You Can Be You

Erik ReesBy Erik Rees

You are a masterpiece.

During my freshman year of college, I took an art class—not because it was my major, but purely for the fun of it. (Well, to be honest, I took the class because of a cute girl who also had signed up for it!) One of our assignments was to study works on display at area art museums and galleries. So one day a classmate and I drove to an art show.

The director of the gallery was an interesting woman with a genuine enthusiasm for her job. When she introduced us to a local artist, I was struck by the deep passion he had for his work. He had complete confidence in his own ability. He spoke highly of his creations, pointing out that each was a custom-made original. I was amazed by his keen attention to detail. To an artist, each piece is unique, formed first within the artist’s mind before it is actually produced. The artist thoroughly explores every inch of the creation before he calls it complete.

There is another Artist—a Grand Master—whose attention to detail and whose interest in his creation far outweigh that of any artist you will ever meet in a gallery. The Scripture says, “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (Psalm 139:14–16, NLT).

The Bible says you are the special creation of God Almighty, made in his own image so your life could make a significant difference for his kingdom. The God of the entire universe began making a masterpiece of you even as you were taking shape in your mother’s womb. God himself is the one who breathed life into you.

God doesn’t create anything without value. He is the ultimate craftsman. And he designed you specifically to fulfill a unique role in his ultimate plan to establish his kingdom on earth. Even though each of us has made mistakes that make it more difficult for him to perfect, we still are a special work of the Creator’s hands. He even takes time to know about our day-to-day lives. In fact, he is smiling right now, rejoicing as you seek to discover the masterpiece you are to him.

The Bible says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10, NLT).

This verse helps us understand that if we want to discover our mission or purpose in life, we first need to look at the masterpiece God has made us to be. While self-help books tell you to look within, I’m saying the key to living the life you were meant to live is to look to God and ask him to help you discover your uniqueness. Once you discover who you are, then you can start figuring out what God has planned for you, the specific way he designed you to make a difference in the world for him.

Another translation of Ephesians 2:10 uses the word workmanship to describe our uniqueness. It’s from the Greek word poiema, which literally means “work of art,” and is the root of our English word poem. You are a work of God—and nothing but the highest and best comes from his hand. Like the artist who takes scrap metal and turns it into an amazing sculpture, God takes our lives and fashions them into a masterpiece.

You are not only a masterpiece shaped by God’s own loving hands, but you are a unique work of divine art. Like an original painting or sculpture, you are a one of a kind. There is no one else like you, which is why your heavenly Father longs for you to discover just how special and unique you are. As Rick Warren says in The Purpose Driven® Life, “Only you can be you. God designed each of us so there would be no duplication in the world. No one has the exact same mix of factors that make you unique.”

God created you as a unique masterpiece because he has a specific purpose for your life—a specific and unique “contribution” that only you can make.

What does that mean? Your contribution is the unique service God created you to make, a ministry only you can perform. It is the specific mission God has given you to fulfill for him on earth. It is what I like to call your unique Kingdom Purpose.

I define Kingdom Purpose as … your specific contribution to the body of Christ, within your generation, that causes you to totally depend on God and authentically display his love toward others—all through the expression of your unique design. The Bible says, “Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits” (1 Corinthians 12:7, MSG).

Your Kingdom Purpose is way more than a career. It is a special commissioning from God to make a significant difference on this earth. It’s the banner of your life that you carry and wave for God’s glory. Now don’t get me wrong, your career could provide you the platform to direct your Kingdom Purpose, but it doesn’t define it.

I have discovered that most people, myself included, tend to define their purpose in life by one of three things . . . trends, what others tell them, or by truth. When we let trends guide our life, we simply are living to fit into the current styles of the world. When we let others tell us what we should be doing, we are living to please them and win their approval.

However, when we let God’s truth define our Kingdom Purpose, submitting to his authority and desiring to please only him, we are able to lead a life of lasting significance, fulfillment, and Kingdom impact.

God is continually looking for ordinary people who are willing to let him use them to make a difference for his kingdom. From business executives to bus drivers, from teachers to techies, from stay-at-home moms to traveling musicians, from dentists to deli owners, God longs to use ordinary people in extraordinary ways. That includes you!

Will you accept the challenge to find and carry out your Kingdom Purpose? Remember, the Bible says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, NIV).

With this encouragement, challenge yourself to invest in God’s kingdom in a way that will last long after you are gone. Be a contributor, not a consumer. For some people that means trading in a career for a full-time ministry. For most of us, however, finding and fulfilling our Kingdom Purpose means discovering how God wants us to minister in the paths and relationships of the daily lives he has given us. For all of us, it means determining that we will let God use us to impact eternity and leave a heavenly legacy on earth.


SHAPEAdapted from S.H.A.P.E.: Finding and Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for Life by Erik Rees. Click here to learn more about this book.

Tap into the secrets of what makes you who you are—passions, talents, experiences, temperament, and spiritual gifts—and you’ll discover the path to a life of unimagined purpose, impact, and fulfillment.

Rick Warren’s bestselling book The Purpose Driven® Life describes God’s five purposes for every Christian. Now Erik Rees helps you discover God’s unique purpose for your life based on the way God has shaped you.

He made you marvelously unique for a reason. In this eye-opening, empowering, and liberating book, Rees shows you how to uncover God’s most powerful and effective means of advancing his kingdom on earth: your own irreplaceable, richly detailed personal design.

Filled with Scripture and real-life stories, S.H.A.P.E. presents a series of challenges that will guide you through the process of discovering your personal blend of:

  • Spiritual Gifts: A set of special abilities that God has given you to share his love and serve others.
  • Heart: The special passions God has given you so that you can glorify him on earth.
  • Abilities: The set of talents God gave you when you were born, which he also wants you to use to make an impact for him.
  • Personality: The special way God wired you to navigate life and fulfill your unique Kingdom Purpose.
  • Experiences: Those parts of your past, both positive and painful, which God intends to use in great ways.

In addition, this inspiring guidebook utilizes the purpose of ministry outlined in The Purpose Driven Life to give you the tools to:

  • Unlock your God-given potential
  • Uncover your specific Kingdom Purpose
  • Unfold a kingdom plan for your life

It’s all here: insights that can change the way you look at yourself and how you live your life and practical guidance for applying them. Discover how to apply your amazing array of personal attributes in ways that bring confidence, freedom, clarity, and significance that can only come from your Creator.

Erik Rees helped people discover and direct their God-given S.H.A.P.E. at Saddleback Church for over 15 years. After the loss of his twelve-year-old daughter Jessie to cancer in 2011, Erik used his pain to help other families and is the CEO of the Jessie Rees Foundation. Through Erik’s leadership, Jessie’s mission to encourage every kid fighting cancer to “Never Ever Give Up” is becoming a reality. He and his wife, Stacey, live in Orange County, California, with their children, Shaya and JT, and their two dogs.

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