I have met Billy Graham twice. The first time was during my time in seminary, when Dr. Graham spoke at our chapel. So many people showed up that day that the seminary had to set up a remote video site in the music chapel. That’s where I got stuck. In his sermon, Graham began by saying that he had ten points he wanted to cover. He got to only five before time ran out.

At the end of chapel I left the overflow room and was going down the inside stairwell when who should I meet coming up but the man himself! I said, “Dr. Graham, you said you had ten points and got to only half of them. I have to preach this Sunday and if you won’t be needing those other five points….”

He laughed at me!

I laugh at myself now, of course. In my youthful enthusiasm I thought that having five points of a sermon given to me by Billy Graham would make me a great preacher. I now know better. The magic was not in a few words scribbled on paper. The key was in the life and character of the man who scribbled those words.

One of the most important things for us to do as preachers is to find our own voice. By “voice” I don’t mean the physical apparatus of making sounds in our throats. I mean the entire manner in which we think and communicate. No matter how hard I might have tried, I could not have spoken in the voice of Dr. Graham. I would have been like young David trying to walk around in King Saul’s armor (1 Samuel 17:38-39). The fit was not right and would have caused more trouble than the effort was worth.

Each of us is unique and uniquely gifted through our calling to be ourselves. Learn to trust yourself by trusting that God made the right choice in your calling. Find your voice-your entire manner of communicating-that is yours alone. No, you won’t sound like Rick Warren or John MacArthur or Barbara Brown Taylor or anyone else except yourself. That is not something to be feared-it is a goal to be pursued.

I am a charter member of the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society, a group that loves the music of the late guitarist. For more than a decade we would meet each summer in Nashville and Chet and friends would attend and play. One year we commissioned a young luthier to hand-make a classical guitar to be given away at the convention. At the banquet that night Chet played the guitar on stage and then drew the name of the lucky winner. I was that person. He called me to come up on stage with him and presented me with that unique guitar. I was so surprised I was virtually speechless.

On my way home I thought about what a wonderful gift this was. It sounded so good when Chet played it. Can you imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the guitar didn’t make me sound like Chet Atkins? The magic wasn’t in the guitar but in his hands.

You see the point. I’m not Chet Atkins or Billy Graham or anyone other than myself. So I have learned to communicate like Don Aycock. I don’t sound like anyone else I know and that is as it should be.

Become yourself. Find your voice. You’ll be surprised what God can do with you.

Don Aycock is a pastor, seminar leader, and author. He has written 18 books and speaks at national conferences on writing, prayer, men’s issues, and ministry.  www.donaycock.net

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