When my father went to be with the Lord, he had pastored the church for forty years. For seventeen years I had been behind the scenes doing the television production. When he died, I had only ministered one time, but I knew I was supposed to step up and pastor. The first few months I felt like I had to be like my father, but it was a struggle. My father was outgoing and strong, with a dynamic personality. I'm more laid back and easygoing. I tried my best to preach like my father, but I discovered that there's no grace on your life to be somebody else.
One day I read that "David fulfilled God's purpose for his own generation" (Acts 13:36). I heard something on the inside say, "Joel, your father fulfilled his purpose, now quit trying to be like him and go out and fulfill your purpose." It was like a stronghold was broken in my mind. I thought, "I'm free to be me." I quit trying to imitate my father, and I stepped into my own anointing. That's when the ministry started to grow.
I've learned that it's easy to be me. I don't have to perform or pretend. I can relax and just be myself. When you're comfortable with who you are, you're not trying to impress people or be something you're not, and it allows your uniqueness to come out. You'll be more creative, and talent will come out in greater ways. You'll step into the anointing on your life. Be you. You're powerful when you're you. Here's the key: nobody can beat you at being you. You can be a better you than anyone in the world. You're anointed to be you. Quit focusing on what you don't have and what you didn't get and just be the best you that you can be.
I used to think that to be powerful and effective, I had to be loud and dynamic and forceful. I have minister friends who are like that, and they are powerful. It's who they are. But I've learned that when you're who you are, you can be quiet and be powerful, you can be small and be powerful, you can be in the background and be powerful. The whole key is to be you, because when you're you, you activate your anointing, which gives you a grace that is unique to your life.
Be who God made you to be. You are unique. You have something to offer this world that nobody else has. Let your gifts shine—show your personality, your talent, your style. Don't be an imitation. Be the original you.