Be All You Can Be


We often hear parents and teachers these days tell children: "you can be anything you want to be" or "you can accomplish anything you set your mind to." On the surface, these phrases have a wonderful after-school special morality -- easily digestible and properly worshipful of Self-Esteem, the modern god. Unfortunately, today's prevailing Christian world view seems to have co-opted these kinds of banal sentiments. These shadows of truths gain prominence in the absence of Scripturally based Christian thinking.

Surely those two phrases above are meant only to encourage children and empower them with a sense of freedom. What's the harm in that? The harm is, their implications are deceitful. Children are expected to engineer happiness by their own devices, as in their mind and body. The spiritual element is deliberately omitted. As in the case of "God-fearing," the term "God willing" has completely disappeared from contemporary usage.

Does this sound like overstatement? Let us compare "you can be anything you want to be" to the following verse from Psalm 37 (KJV):

4 Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
The Biblical verse acknowledges the Self as subordinate to God. True identity cannot exist without existing in the Lord. Psalm 37:4 is one of the most powerful verses in all of the Bible because it summarizes the believer's purpose: to glorify God.

In stark contrast, "you can be anything you want to be" acknowledges only the Self: "to be" and 'to want" exist only in the Self. Yet even common sense refutes this. A basic example: man, try as he might, cannot be a woman, and woman, try as she might, cannot be a man. That person can alter their physiology and behavior, but anyone can tell you that there is more to gender than the superficial.

Fallen man's desires often run contrary to the will of God, which is precisely why the Biblical truth separates "to be" and "to want." An individual may want anything that pops into their head, but they cannot "be" (as in possess identity) without God. The most basic level of being, i.e. taking the breath of life, requires God. Even an unbeliever recognizes that life and death are completely out of their control. God can and does make the impossible happen (as plenty of Biblical evidence attests to), but He doesn't alter physical realities to indulge our selfish fancies, only to glorify Himself.

"You can accomplish anything you set your mind to." Where is God in this statement? Here, the mind is the be-all, end-all. The human mind is certainly a powerful tool, but it consistently fails in the area of foreknowledge. Without precise foreknowledge, all anyone can honestly say is they're "hoping for the best." Now consider the following verse from Hebrews Chapter 11 (KJV):
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
The individual who trusts in God accomplishes their goals. God is omniscient; He is the Creator. Sometimes it rains on the day you planned a picnic. Life doesn't always agree with our plans. But God is the ultimate guide because He knows what's around the corner. The mind can only get you so far.

The U.S. Army slogan "be all you can be" is, among these secular axioms, closest to Biblical truth. Each one of us has a God-given potential, but we cannot be more than God made us to be. Lest that sound like some kind of binding limitation, we are often much, much less.