World-changers shine in every sphere of influence, but that light doesn’t just happen.
The world praised a remarkable man, Eric Liddell, for his great accomplishments at the 1924 Paris Olympics, but today he is known better for his courageous stand and personal convictions than the racing medals he won. His story is told in The Flying Scotsman by Sally Magnusson. Spiritually prepared, Liddell ran the race of life wisely and changed many people’s ideas about “success.”
Before we run our own race, heading out the door to “change the world,” we must first take these five steps so our ministry becomes more effective and fruitful:
Step 1: Examine your heart and make adjustments to align with the Word and ways of God.
History documents the destruction that can occur from wicked hearts. We think of Hitler, Stalin, Nero, and many others who practiced evil. But we don’t often hear about the harm that can occur in churches when God’s own people allow evil to reign in their hearts. A root of bitterness can “spring up” and cause lots of trouble (Hebrews 12:15
In the Old Testament, God gave His chosen people a heart to know Him, and He only asked them to stay close in fellowship and return with their whole heart if they ever wandered away (Jeremiah 24:7
). Revivalists call for that today too. “Seek God!” they say. “Return to Him with all your heart!”
The psalmist said, “Create in me a clean heart, O God…”
a). David recognized the importance of purity as we serve God and live for Him in the world. In the New Testament, Peter and John echoed this same need for holiness (1 Peter 1:16
; 1 John 3:2-3
In Christ, I am a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17
); yet I am, as the hymn writer said, “prone to wander.” My heart is still “deceitful” (Jeremiah 17:9
). I need to guard my heart because it determines the course of my life, and because many wicked things can still defile me if I am not in the Word and obeying the Lord (Proverbs 4:23
; Mark 7:21-23
Step 2: Examine your thinking and, if necessary, change what you are feeding your mind.
In our natural state without Christ, we conform to the culture
), but believers are not to conform to the world. Rather, as holy “living sacrifices,” we are to be transformed by a renewed mind—completely renovated through God’s Word—so we can serve Him well and bring honor to His name (Romans 12:2
When our minds are renewed, we will begin to recognize God’s truth from the evil strategies of Satan, lies of the culture and deceit within our own hearts (Ephesians 2:2-3
When our minds are renewed, we will understand the difference between being led and controlled by the flesh and being led and controlled by the Spirit. They are not the same; they are in conflict (Galatians 5:17
We will recognize that “nothing good” lives in our flesh (Romans 7:18
) and it is infinitely better to set our minds on the “things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5
; Galatians 5:22-23
) so we can produce good fruit.
As we saturate our thoughts with scripture, our mind will transform from ungodly ways of thinking into new, godly thinking. We will “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”
(2 Corinthians 10:5
). We will stop feeding our minds on the world’s garbage and instead, will pursue God (Ephesians 4:22-32
The Lord makes us holy through His Word (John 17:17
). As we live in dependence upon the Holy Spirit, we develop deep convictions that are foundational for God-honoring actions and ministry.
Step 3: Examine your perspective and look beyond today’s struggles to tomorrow’s rewards.
As I studied 1 Peter 4:7-11
, a list of ways to live out practical Christianity, I was struck by the first words: “The end of all things is near.”
The apostle was saying, live with the end in view. Jesus’ return is imminent—it could happen at any time.
Living with an eternal perspective will affect our choices, ministry and even the way we suffer, should God call us to that. Living with a proper view of eternity enabled Jesus to be willing to go to the cross (1 Peter 4:1
). He saw the big picture, and told His disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled”
Think about it! Jesus is coming again, taking us to our eternal home, and rewarding us for service, pure lives and acts of devotion (1 Corinthians 3:12-14
We were made for eternity. Our lives need to reflect that if we are to minister and live well.
Step 4: Examine your motives and decide who will get the glory in your life.
“Are you living for yourself, or for Jesus, the Lord?” The preacher’s question made me wince.
Everyone might think we are rightly motivated, but the Lord sees the heart. He examines our motives (Proverbs 16:2
; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
) and knows whether we are working to be seen and praised by others, or if our heart is pure and single-focused. God sees everything, and He is just to reward His children (Matthew 6:1-4
; Colossians 3:23
So before we try to change the world, we might ask, “Why
do I want to do this, and for who
?” Are we seeking others’ approval or God’s? (Galatians 1:10
We cannot be humble servants when we’re spiritual exhibitionists, always craving attention.
Step 5: Examine your prayers and make sure your power source is Almighty God.
Sometimes, one of the most uncomfortable things I do is pray. It exposes my selfishness and independent spirit.
Many people trot off to do great exploits for God, energized by self-effort. We don’t ask God for His perspective, plans, wisdom and power. (Maybe we do, but is it just words?)
There is mighty power in prayer (Matthew 7:7
; 21:22; John 14:13-14
), but we often do not ask; or we ask with selfish motives and desires (James 4:3
). Worse, maybe we tell God what to do! We must learn to pray with humble hearts, in accordance with scripture and in faith
God-centered prayer is where all world-changing action begins. “God does nothing,” John Wesley said, “except in response to believing prayer.”
Changed and prepared, we’ll find the Spirit of God might use us in unexpected ways to change our world. What an adventure that will be!
Dawn Wilson and her husband Bob live in Southern California. They have two married sons and three granddaughters. Dawn assists Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth with research and works with various departments at Revive Our Hearts. She is the founder and director of Heart Choices Today, and also publishes LOL with God and Upgrade with Dawn. Dawn also travels with her husband in ministry with the International School Project.
Publication date: June 10, 2016