Many Christians have big dreams, legitimate God-breathed dreams, in their heart for big impact. They imagine the impact their life could have on those in need. They consider how God could use them in big ways. They are ambitious for God and His call on their life - and that is a good thing.
Ambition is actually a good thing.
The disciples were ambitious, and Jesus did not scold them for it. When the disciples asked Jesus who would sit at His right and left hand in heaven, Jesus answered by simply re-defining their concept of greatness, but did not shame them for desiring to be great (Mark 10:35-45).
Then we see in 1 Timothy 3:1 that "to aspire to leadership is an honorable ambition". Based on this scripture, it seems like ambition is not the problem; it can even be honorable. The problem with ambition comes when the motive for greatness and/or the method used to make a big impact is wrong.
The pattern that seems to be prevalent in our social media, celebrity-driven culture is that people so badly want to make a big impact, and maybe even for the right reasons, but they lose sight of what is real and end up taking a deceptive path that never leads to true greatness.
The truth is we need to stop worrying about making a big impact, and instead start focusing on multiplying the small thing that is in our life right now.
I see the same situation repeated over and over again among Christians: They start off with a genuine, God-planted dream in their heart to help people, make a difference, and make a big impact. With the dream bubbling in their heart, they start making baby steps towards that dream. They go to school, work hard, save money, intern at their church, or volunteer at a local outreach.
But after a couple months or a couple years, they realize the baby steps are super ordinary and boring things. They are in behind-the-scenes roles, and they don’t see how God could do anything big with what they are currently doing. So they jump ship. They give up on faithfulness and start chasing the shiny stuff, the “new” stuff. At first the “shiny” new experience is exciting, but then over time it looses it’s glimmer and they are face-to-face with faithfulness again. The “shiny” did not get them closer to their dreams of making a big impact, but instead put them frustrated and behind the curve.
Scripture’s message is clear: “he who is faithful in the little will be entrusted with much” (Luke 16:10).
The Biblical method to making a big impact is found in being faithful in the small… being faithful in the now.
So, what is your “now”? What is in your life, right now? What are your current roles, responsibilities, and opportunities?
Tomorrow’s influence is dependant on today’s faithfulness. If God was looking down on you and looking at what is in your life right now, would His response to you be, “Well done, good and faithful servant”?
When we are a good and faithful servant, God positions us to make a big impact. He says, “'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things'” (Matthew 25:23).
Making a big impact is birthed by faithfully multiplying the small.
And, the kicker is this: we can’t “make it happen” on our own. We end up chasing the wind, when we strive and rebel against faithfulness. We have to trust that God’s Word is truth. We have to trust that His way of faithfulness and multiplication of the small creates the big impact we desire. When we submit to His method and humbly rely on His grace, He opens doors and favors us in ways that we could never have done on our own.
God is the one that makes the big impact happen; our role is to follow Him and be faithful in the little.
If you are in a place where you are striving and chasing big dreams, instead choose to plant and prove yourself faithful. I challenge you, stop chasing the shiny stuff, it will leave you empty and frustrated. Follow the ways of the Master, and know that He will entrust you with big impact, once you prove faithful in the small.
Erica Giesow empowers millennials to live well for Christ at ericanderica.org. She is also co-director of EPIC Commission College-age Discipleship Program and a pastor on staff at Valley Family Church in Kalamazoo, Mich. She is wife to Eric and mom to Ella and Eli. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.
Publication date: April 5, 2016