Define Your Core Gift and Remain Faithful To Who You Are

By Bo Sanchez

Here’s My Gift: I’m Not a Theologian With Three Doctorates---Just a Preacher In Blue Jeans…

UNLESS you remain faithful to who you are, you have no gift to give to the world.

A few months ago, The Philippine Daily Inquirer ran a cover story about me in its Sunday edition. If you were not able to buy a copy, blame my mother who bought every single copy she could get her hands on—and gave it as a gift to all her friends. (She is still the uncontested President of The Bo Sanchez Fans Club.) My photo was so large, covering the entire spreadsheet, it made my nose look like the grand piano.

But I loved the label. Because in that article, editor Ruel de Vera officially knighted me as the “Preacher in Blue Jeans.”

Ruel said I’m a “Preacher in Blue Jeans” because people understand what I preached. That I don’t lecture about purely “spiritual” stuff, such as doctrine, or prayer, or the Bible... Instead, I speak about the nitty-gritty stuff of daily life— like how to earn money, how to have a loving family, and how to overcome temptations and problems…

When he interviewed me, he said I’m also a “Preacher in Blue Jeans” because people can identify with me. Especially when I become vulnerable, sharing my weaknesses and sins. (He was referring to how I confessed that I was sexually molested as a child.)

Not everyone feels the same way though.

I remember how an old priest scolded me many years ago for writing the way I did. He was a learned, scholarly priest, and he castigated me, saying, “Bo, stop writing about yourself. All you talk about is yourself. Start writing about God!”

I told him, “I’ll consider your advice, Father…”

I did, oh, for about 10 seconds. (I wanted to respect an older man.)

But I threw away his advice in a snap.

Because he wanted me to write like him.

Because he wanted me to write to religious guys like him.

Because he wanted me not to use my core gift and become someone else.

Others can do that, but that’s not my edge.

Yes, I usually write about me. And about my 87-year-old father who can’t see clearly anymore, I have to cut his fingernails and toenails for him, which is to me my greatest achievements in life. And about my 81-year-old mother who at an early age infected me with her devotion to God. And about my loving wife who is the real magic behind the preacher. (I cannot do what I do now if she didn’t support me 100%.) And about my wonderful sons, Bene and Francis, who remind me that life is unfair: How could I have deserved such fantastic gifts as these two boys?

I write about my large nose, my missing tooth, and my daily struggles.

I write simple stories, discerning God’s fingerprints in ordinary events.

I write to people who like listening to gritty reality, not scholarly theology.

And do you know what made me more confident in throwing out his advice?

As I spoke to this priest, I was leaning on a five-drawer filing cabinet, jam-packed with happy, tear-stained, heartfelt letters from my readers. Thousands of thousands of letters, telling me that they have seen God through my stories. (I was tempted to ask him, “Do you also have a filing cabinet filled with thousands of letters from your readers like this one, Father?” Thankfully, I stopped myself.)

Friend, don’t let anyone force you to be who you are not.

Your gift won’t be for everyone. So don’t try pleasing everyone.

But there are people out there who will be desperate for your unique gift. That’s your target market. Go after them and serve them. Don’t mind everyone else.Some people won’t like you. (That particular priest didn’t like me, but I’ve got lots of priest and bishop friends who like my writing—and tell me that they steal my ideas for their homilies.)

Friend, define your core gift, and remain faithful to who you are.

1 comment:

Laurence Gonzaga said...

I think you are on to something here... I am for the most part, just like your priest in the story, I write theological and apologetical articles, because that is my gift, indeed, it is what brought me back to the Church, the reason behind the faith... Nevertheless, your message is good, and it is what Pentecost is all about, isnt it? Sharing the gifts...

God be with you.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam,
Laurence Gonzaga
San Bernardino, CA