I was once a fitness coach. Don’t laugh. It is true.
I know that you would never believe that to be true if look at me now, but it was. I worked for a company selling and coaching clients in their health and fitness. It was fun, somewhat profitable, and helped me stay accountable for my health journey.
Here is the BUT…it wasn’t really me.
Sure I could play the part. I took over-the-top selfies sharing perfect pull-ups staged with a stool. I shared ridiculous recipes for protein shakes. I did all the right things right. And at the end of the day, I felt miles away from myself.
It wasn’t the company’s fault. It was not my customer’s or client’s fault. It was something in me. It was something that leaked out when I was trying to coach others. It was not that I wasn’t concerned with their waistlines and fitness ambitions. It is just as if I peeled back the layers. I was more concerned with their souls.
As a fitness coach, I did the one thing in life you should never do, be someone else. Or better yet, disguise who you are in the clothing of someone else.
What God Showed Me
Before he was king, David was a shepherd who God had already anointed as the next king. We know the outcome of David’s heroic feat in taking down the giant, Goliath. What we forget is the moments before the fight. King Saul reluctantly agrees to send the shepherd into the battle. Saul does what any half-decent leader would do in this scenario: He equips David. He gives him his armor. This is seemingly right.
Yet, as David clunked around the tent in the armor, it just wasn’t a fit. At this point in the narrative, David was a shepherd, not a battle-ready armored warrior. So David did what all of us should do, step out into the fight with what is in our hands and the authenticity of who we are. David was a shepherd. David had killed the bear and the lion. David took the tools of that trade and stepped onto the biggest stage of his life that day. And David won!
I know we don’t fight 8-foot giants in our day, but we do go to battle. We mostly fight the giants in our minds that attempt to tell us to wear armor that was never meant for us to put on. I think we try to clothe ourselves in identities and false selves that are so far from authentic. We run into battles not ill-equipped, just with the equipment we have no idea how to use because we are playing pretend with our identity.
I still enjoy running. I still exercise because I want to live to hold and play with grandkids one day. Yet, I quit coaching. Not because it is a bad profession, but simply because it was someone else’s armor. As the white pages of this screen fill with black text of the words I am now sharing, I sit here in my office as a church planter and pastor. That is what God put in my hand to use. I put down the dumbbell and picked up my pulpit. I did so for one simple reason: it is who God designed me to be.
Who has God called and purposed you to be? Are you living and operating with what God has already placed in your hands, or do you keep picking up armor that is not yours?
We may not know each other, but with relative certainty, I can say this: you will be more fulfilled in what God has dressed you in than in the armor of someone else. So be the ‘you’ God created you to be.
Jeff Pitts is a church planter in Cleveland, TN. He loves his family, coffee, and NEEDTOBREATHE.