The Secret to a Life of Impact
- 2006 29 May
Four great lives in the Bible illustrate the principle well. In fact, you could easily argue that these four people had more impact than all others - and that they had it because they knew this secret. Consider Moses, for example. He had been called to great tasks and had seen God do powerful miracles. A whole nation depended on him, and at times he had people lined up for miles to see him. If ever a man bore the burdens of leadership, Moses did. Considering the weight of responsibility he carried, what would you expect Moses' prayers to be about? A conversation in Exodus 33 tells us. “If You are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know You and continue to find favor with you,” Moses said to God (v. 13). God then assured Moses that His presence would go with him. Moses pressed in further: “Now show Me your glory” (v. 18). And God answered Moses' request. Do you see what happened? Moses could have asked for a shorter time in the wilderness or an increase in power. But when he got face to face with God, he asked for the presence and the glory. His passion wasn't success, miracles, numbers or impressing people; it was to know God. Above all else, Moses wanted favor and intimacy with the One Who had called him. David is another example. He was a highly successful warrior, a king who loved his people, and a popular worship leader and song-writer. Yet imagine him being interviewed on a talk show: “David, you've done great things, demonstrated great power, and defeated great enemies. You've risen to the top. The Scriptures even say you were a really good-looking man. You have it all going for you. What's your secret? What makes you tick?” His answer? “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple” (Psalm 27:4). Behind the mighty warrior, the songwriter, the king, this man who changed the world in his day; and before all the pressures of leadership and even in the midst of his greatest failure; this leader had a passion to meet with God and know His heart. Like a thirsty deer panting for the water in a brook, David's soul yearned for God Himself. That was his secret. Then there's Paul, one of the greatest intellects of his time. Schooled by the rabbi Gamaliel, he was a scholar among scholars, and arguably the most influential man in the New Testament apart from Jesus. In spite of being flogged, shipwrecked, and imprisoned, he was mightily used by God. Most of us, if we could have a ministry with even one-thousandth the impact of Paul's, would be thrilled beyond belief. What was the secret to Paul's success? Was it his education or his pedigree? His methodology? His status? Motives driven by guilt and shame, or an obsessive-compulsive personality? No, Paul uses a word much stronger than “garbage” to describe everything in his past, at least as it compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:7-11). That's what kept him pressing ahead toward the goal. Before going on all those mission trips, before writing profound letters, before the all-important Jerusalem council meeting - even before getting out the whiteboard with Barnabas or Silas and planning his strategy for the next few years - Paul had a greater ambition. He wasn't simply after more converts and churches, wider distribution of his letters, and more opportunities to preach to larger audiences. Everything took a back seat to knowing Jesus. Jesus, of course, is our greatest model. He came to earth and explained the Father, doing amazing miracles and preaching amazing messages. The very last night, at the end of His ministry - the highest-impact ministry ever - Jesus spent quite a bit of time praying. What did He say? “This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom You have sent” (John 17:3). He didn't focus on His disciples serving God better or accomplishing greater things. He asked that they would know Him.