How Your Ordinary Life Can Make an Extraordinary Impact on the World
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2013 29 Aug
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of M. Scott Boren's newbook, Difference Makers: An Action Guide for Jesus Followers (Baker Books, 2013).
There are so many problems in our fallen world that it’s easy to feel as if one person’s efforts can’t do much to fix them. But God calls every believer to help solve the world’s problems, and one ordinary person’s life can actually make an extraordinary impact on the world.
You can make the world a better place through your life, and you don’t have to be in worldly positions of influence (such as Hollywood or Wall Street) to do so. When you rely on God to help you impact the world, His power will start to work through you in your neighborhood, workplace, and everywhere else you go – impacting the world around you significantly.
Here’s how your ordinary life can make an extraordinary impact on the world:
Shift your focus from heroism to love. You don’t have to be a superhero in order to make significant positive difference in the world; you simply need to bring love to people who need love. When you rely on God to help you reach out to others, God’s love will flow through you into other people’s lives in every situation. So instead of seeking only dramatic ways of trying to help people, simply make a habit of inviting God to work through you, and you’ll make an extraordinary difference even in ordinary circumstances.
Forget about following a set of rules or tactics. The most effective strategy for making a positive difference in the world isn’t really a strategy at all. It’s just a simple habit of encountering God’s love, experiencing that love as you work in the world, and engaging others with that love – all of which you can do in any situation. Keep in mind that impacting the world for the better is much more about who you are than it is about what you do.
Dance with God. Develop greater unity with God by staying in step with Him as if you and God are dancing through life together. Follow these three main dance steps: “God in me” (asking yourself: “How is God transforming me?”), “God ahead of me” (asking “What is God already doing in the world?”) and “God through me” (asking “What does God want to do through my life?”).
Seek God’s guidance through prayer. Prayer is the key to both discovering how God wants you to do contribute to the world and gaining the power to do that work. Pray for God’s perspective to see the needs around you, God’s compassion to feel the pain that you see, God’s love for people so that you’ll consider them more important than yourself, God’s power to do something about the needs around you, and the ability to hear God’s voice so that you can act with wisdom.
Discover your unique contribution. The way you can best make a difference in the world will line up with the unique way that God has made you as a person. You have something to offer the world that no one else can contribute. So ask God to help you figure out what you’re most interested in doing, and what you do best. Then use that information to discern which opportunities to serve are best for you to act upon.
Serve alongside others. Join your mission with other people who share similar missions, since you can have a greater impact on the world working together with others than you can alone. Ask God to show you what He wants to do through a group of people that includes you, such as a small group from your church or a team of volunteers for a specific charitable organization. Open your heart and mind to work together in unity with others who are different from you yet committed to working toward the same goals. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you forgive people who have hurt you, ask forgiveness when you’ve hurt others, and resolve conflicts so they don’t harm your relationships.
Create space in your life to make a difference in the world. Free up time, money, and emotional energy in your life so you’ll be able to take on the service assignments that God brings your way. Eliminate activities from your schedule and expenses from your budget that consume your resources without adding significant value to your life. Be fully prepared to say “yes” to God whenever He calls you to give to others in need.
Engage people with the “restful force” of Jesus. Just as Jesus’ ministry work on Earth flowed well with people’s real needs and God’s power to meet those needs, your own ministry work can do the same. Don’t force an agenda on people; instead, approach them restfully by asking them questions, listening to them, observing them, and paying attention to their needs. Then, rather than offering a prepackaged response, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to respond in ways that best fit each situation. When you do, people will feel cared for rather than manipulated.
Join God in His work among your neighbors and networks. Pay attention to what God is doing in the lives of the people you relate to regularly – from your family members, friends, and coworkers to people you know from local businesses and civic organizations. Consider what specific needs you notice among them and how God is already at work meeting those needs; then ask God to show you how He may want you to get involved in the process of helping them.
Seek to meet three key needs. In every situation, follow the Holy Spirit’s lead to give people hospitality, generosity, and forgiveness – all of which are vital needs that, when met, will inspire people to seek God more.
Share the Gospel story naturally. Whenever people ask you why you’re serving them, those are opportunities for you to share your faith in Jesus Christ by putting the Gospel story in your own words and discussing it naturally in conversations with them. Practice telling people a brief (two to four minutes long) story of how Jesus has impacted your own life, including: your life before knowing Jesus, how you encountered Jesus for the first time, and how Jesus has changed your life. Hearing your story can inspire others to begin their own relationships with Jesus, which is the best impact you can possibly have on them.
Adapted from Difference Makers: An Action Guide for Jesus Followers, copyright 2013 by M. Scott Boren. Published by Baker Books, an imprint of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.bakerbooks.com.
M. Scott Boren is one of the pastors at Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a trainer, consultant, and author of Missional Small Groups and The Relational Way. Working with Allelon, he develops materials for the missional church. He shares life with his wife, Shawna, and their four children. Visit his website at: www.mscottboren.com.
Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the new Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood's golden age. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.
Publication date: August 29, 2013