The belief that we are each special is, by and large, complete tosh. Most of us are mediocre, make unique contributions only in the peculiar ways we screw things up, and could easily be replaced as husband, father or employee, by somebody better suited to the task. The mythology nevertheless helps to sell things and allows us feel good about ourselves; indeed, the older you get, the more things it sells, from gym memberships, to cosmetic surgery, to hair pieces, to botox injections; but it is just mythology - the whole of human history so far strongly suggests that, as you get old, you cease to be as cool, and that you inevitably find that life just isn't as sweet as it was when you were eighteen.
As I look round the church, it strikes me that far too many Christians have senses of destiny which verge on the messianic. The confidence that the Lord has a special plan and purpose just for them shapes the way they act and move. Now, just for the record I certainly believe each individual has a destiny; what concerns me is the way in which our tendency to think of ourselves as special and unique (which we all are in some ways - D.N.A. etc.) bleeds over into a sense of special destiny whereby the future, or at least the future of myself, comes to be the priority and to trump all else.
Put bluntly, when I read the Bible it seems to me that the church is the meaning of human history; but it is the church, a corporate body, not the distinct individuals who go to make up her membership. Of course, all of us individuals have our gifts and our roles to play: the Lord calls us each by name and numbers the very hairs of our heads; but, to borrow Paul's analogy of the body, we have no special destiny in ourselves taken as isolated units, any more than bits of our own bodies do in isolation from each other. When I act, I act as a whole person; my hand has no special role of its own; it acts only in the context of being part of my overall body. With the church, the destiny of the whole is greater than the sum of the destinies of individual Christians.
This is an important insight which should profoundly shape our thinking and, indeed, our praying. My special destiny as a believer is to be part of the church; and it is the church that is the big player in God's wider plan, not me. That puts me, my uniqueness, my importance, my role, in definite perspective. The problem today is that too many have the idea that God's primary plan is for them, and the church is secondary, the instrument to the realization of their individual significance.
The West worships the individual; from the cradle to the grave it tells us all how special and unique each of us is, how vital we are to everything, how there is a prize out there just for us. Well, the world turned for thousands of years before any of us showed up; it will continue turning long after we've gone; and even if you, me, or the Christian next door are tonight hit by an asteroid, kidnapped by aliens, or sucked down the bathroom drain, very little will actually change; even our loved ones will somehow find a way to carry on without us. We really are not that important. So let's drop the pious prayers which translate roughly as `Lord, how can a special guy/gal like myself help you out some?' and pray rather that the Lord will grow his kingdom despite our continual screw ups, that he will keep us from knocking over the furniture, and that, when all is said and done, somehow, by God's grace, we will "finish well" despite our best efforts to the contrary.
So then please realize early that you are not actually the messiah and you have no special destiny which sets you apart from everybody else. The former is Christ alone; the latter is primarily reserved for his church. We all need to cultivate a certain unmessianic sense of non-destiny which will make us better citizens of the kingdom.
adapted from an article by Carl Trueman