How to Change the World by Changing Yourself
- Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Editor’s note: The following is a report on the practical application of Jay Milbrandt's book, Go and Do: Daring to Change the World One Story at a Time (Tyndale, 2012).
The overwhelming amount of needs to be met in this fallen world may give you mixed feelings: an intense desire to do something to help, yet painful frustration that you can’t do all you want to do to make the world a better place.
If you sense God calling you to go do something to help redeem our world, you can take action even if you don’t know right away which needs He is calling you to meet. That’s because a world revolution results from personal revolutions in individual people’s lives. As you change yourself, you can change the world in the process.
Here’s how you can rely on God’s power working through you to go through a personal revolution that ends up changing the world for the better:
Ask a key question during a crisis. The next time you’re going through a crisis of any kind, use the experience to reflect on your life, ask God to give you the answer to the question “What am I doing here?” and carefully listen for God’s response so you can learn from it. God’s answer will reveal valuable information about His purposes for your life: both what kind of person God wants you to become, and what kind of work God wants you to do in the world.
Challenge yourself to change the way you approach the world. You can be the change you want to see in the world by inviting God to change every part of your lifestyle to orient it around discovering and fulfilling His purposes. Place your relationship with God at the center of your life as your top priority, and revolve everything else in your life around it. Invite God to change every part of you and your life, according to what He knows is best for you. Make a habit of seeking God’s guidance and following it. Then, as God transforms you, you’ll begin to influence the lives of the people you encounter.
Pursue significance simply in being faithful. Don’t worry about trying to accomplish something major in the world through some kind of momentous action. While God does call some people to do that, most people impact the world in smaller, quieter ways – yet they accomplish something just as significant, from God’s perspective. Keep in mind that you can have a significant impact on the world just by consistently showing up to do whatever work God places in front of you each day. Simply try to base your decisions on what you believe is best as you prayerfully go through each day with God. In the process, God will use your life to touch other people’s lives and change the world, one life at a time. Recognize that your story is an important part of the larger story of what God is doing in the world. When you step up to fully play your role in that story, the world will change for the better because of you.
Focus on a lifestyle rather than a mission. It’s within the reach of everyone – not just missionaries with special callings from God – to change the world for the better. You don’t need to have any special training or have received any special assignment; you simply have to develop a lifestyle of saying “yes” to whatever opportunities God places in your life to help others. Strip away from your lifestyle whatever isn’t necessary to pursue God’s purposes for you, making room to follow wherever He leads you.
Discover what makes you come alive. Explore what types of needs in the world resonate in your soul, and what types of service projects give you the most joy to do. Learn which ways of helping others mean the most to you. Then focus your efforts on that area and incorporate it into your lifestyle so that you’re serving others in that way. Make a commitment to serve regularly (rather than as a one-time event) so you can build ongoing relationships with the people you serve.
Be an ambassador for God. Respond to God’s call to be an ambassador, going out into the world to help people reconcile their relationships with Him and each other. Engage in relationships with diplomacy and develop friendships with non-Christians who are spiritual seekers. Respond to the opportunities you encounter to share the Gospel message with them, communicating with respect and love. Work among the people you know to help resolve conflicts and solve problems whenever crises arise. Aim to inspire people by living a life of integrity and peace. Pray for the discernment you need to envision the unique role that God wants you to play to help restore this broken world.
Focus on God’s desires for your life rather than on other people’s expectations of you. Don’t hesitate to follow wherever God leads you, even when that conflicts with what other people expect you to do with your life. Pray for the courage you need to base your decisions on God’s guidance and refuse to let pressure from other people pull you away from God’s direction for your life.
Take action despite your fear. Don’t let fear stop you from doing what you sense God leading you to do. Identify what you’re afraid to sacrifice (such as safety, money, time, or family relationships) in order to serve God, and then pray for the courage you need to sacrifice them whenever necessary to take the risks that God wants you to take while serving Him. Keep in mind that when you’re afraid, you’re forced to rely on God, and relying on God is the position you need to be in to change the world for the better and enjoy an abundant life.
Develop greater generosity. Keep in mind when you encounter needy people that you could have been born into difficult circumstances (in poverty, in sickness, as a refugee, as an orphan, etc.) just as easily as them. Realize that you’re not entitled to the resources you have; they all came to you as gifts from God, with the hope that you would be a good steward of them. Ask God to help you generously share your time, money, energy, and talents with the people He wants you to serve – from people in your local community, to people across the planet with whom you’re globally connected.
Adapted from Go and Do: Daring to Change the World One Story at a Time, copyright 2012 by Jay Milbrandt. Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Ill., www.tyndale.com.
Jay Milbrandt is an attorney and serves as the Director of the Global Justice Program and Associate Director of the Nootbaar Institute for Law, Religion, and Ethics at Pepperdine University School of Law. Jay travels regularly throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America as a human rights lawyer. He manages global initiatives in Africa and South East Asia. He speaks frequently about his work. Jay is the author of numerous articles on legal and global topics and has written for numerous publications. You can connect with Jay at JayMilbrandt.com and on Twitter.
Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles. Contact Whitney at: firstname.lastname@example.org to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.
Publication date: September 19, 2012
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