[Caleb said,] “I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions,  but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.  So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.’”
Joshua 14:7-9 NIV
Caleb was someone who, despite the fear and doubt of the people around him, chose to stand in his convictions and believe that God would pull through.
He wasn’t any more special than the other Israelites, he didn’t have more talent or even more courage. He simply had conviction, and this is what God noticed. Caleb wasn’t afraid of what anyone thought, and refused to silence what he believed to conform to the culture around him.
Does this describe you? Do you stand for what you believe, or are you a “chameleon,” – always changing your beliefs, desires, and even personality according to what others around you are doing? God doesn’t want us to feel like we have to conform in order to be accepted, and wants to help us become strong enough to stand for what we believe and who we are.
Defined by the World
The Dangers of Conformity
It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you, but if you trust the LORD, you are safe.
Proverbs 29:25 GNT
It’s easy to get lured into compromise by the promise of feeling accepted, loved, and appreciated. Our friends will think we’re cool, our parents will accept us, the person we want to date will like us, if only we become what everyone wants us to be and do what everyone else is doing.
But this ends up being a trap, because people change, and we never will be able to measure up to what everyone wants. We may get liked or noticed for a while, but this fades because what people want fades. And what’s even more dangerous is we end up losing our own identity, because we are constantly defining ourselves by the people around us.
A Lost Identity
But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.  Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
James 1:6-8 NLT
Do you doubt yourself a lot? Do you feel like you constantly go back and forth, wondering what you actually want or believe? This is what happens when we are always trying to please people and conform to the world. Our loyalty becomes divided between God and the people around us. We can become so consumed with being who everyone wants us to be that we don’t actually know who we are.
How do you try to conform to the people around you?
Do you see any ways you have lost your identity? Do you know what your opinions, desires, dreams, and beliefs are? Or have you based them all off of what would make you fit in with people around you?
Empowered to be Different
Loved Just as You Are
Stop trusting other people to save you. Do not think too highly of them; they are only humans who have not stopped breathing yet.
Isaiah 2:22 ERV
Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.
Romans 12:2 TPT
We don’t have to prove ourselves to other people or get them to like us, because God thinks we are satisfying and perfect just the way we are.
Do you believe that God loves you just as you are?
Defined by a Bigger Purpose
What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.
Galatians 2:19-21 MSG
God has a purpose for us that is so much bigger than being consumed by what people think. In this scripture, Paul describes no longer defining himself by his ego and getting people to like him, but rather by how much God loves him. He no longer cares about pleasing people, because he has a bigger purpose to live for.
Is your ego the center of your life? Is making a good impression on others what drives you?
How do you think your life would be different if your ego was “no longer central”?
Believe in Something that Matters
This is how GOD answered me: “Take back those words, and I’ll take you back. Then you’ll stand tall before me. Use words truly and well. Don’t stoop to cheap whining. Then, but only then, you’ll speak for me. Let your words change them. Don’t change your words to suit them. I’ll turn you into a steel wall, a thick steel wall, impregnable. They’ll attack you but won’t put a dent in you because I’m at your side, defending and delivering.”
Jeremiah 15:19-20 MSG
God puts a purpose on each of our hearts that is meant to influence and change other people’s lives. When we’re consumed with what people think, we end up changing ourselves and watering down that purpose to please them. We care more about what people think than what they are going through. But with God, we can use who we are to change others!
What purpose has God put on your heart? Have you watered it down to conform to people, or have you embraced it?
Who in your life needs you to speak up and love them?
Hurricane – Misterwives
This song is about being freed up by the shackles of what people think. When we are confident in who we are and what our purpose is for our lives, we are as unstoppable as a hurricane!
If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath.
1 Peter 3:13-15 MSG
Rather than being held back by what people think, choose to do good. You don’t have to be afraid of what people will say, because as long as you are set out to do good, there is nothing – no mean comment, no rejection, no mistake – that can stop you!