What’s Wrong with Having an Impact?

Disclaimer: The following is written by a hypocrite.  While I know I am highly valued by God, I still crave affirmation from people.

For the longest time, I prayed that I would have a greater impact for God’s kingdom. I want God to be known and glorified, so when I consider Bible studies or writing- the bigger the better, right? If more people are involved, the effect will be greater, and God will receive more glory. Numbers provide a simple but inaccurate way to measure impact. Receiving appreciation for a task is also a faulty measure of impact. When someone tells me, “Thank you!” or “You really made a difference,” I feel my actions were influential and beneficial. However, if no one appreciates that same action, does that nullify the impact? Of course not, yet I feel affirmed when people appreciate me or numbers blossom.   Have I created an idol out of “making a difference?”

What a slippery slope I have fallen down!  I put on the thinking of man and left behind the thinking of God. For example, consider the prophet Isaiah. When Isaiah answered the Lord’s call, the Lord told Isaiah even though no one would listen, he was to keep speaking. Year after year, it would appear that Isaiah did not have an impact, yet what was significant is that Isaiah heard God, obeyed and persevered in the task whether Isaiah himself was able discern any change in the people’s hearts or lives.

I think the root of my faulty thinking is the sin of comparison. Since I compare my activities to others, I believe God also compares my impact with that of his other children. I forget God’s ways are so high above my own and that God is as fully pleased with me when I am in my own house doing the things He placed before me as someone who is doing the things He called them to do which reach thousands of people.

I desperately need God to transform my thinking to stop thinking like the world and to perceive things more like He does so I am able to serve joyfully doing mundane tasks without acknowledgement, appreciation or visible impact. God is more interested in the internal than the external. While the tasks I do may not make an impact on the world, my attitude will impact my heart. Am I listening for the Lord’s voice to obey whether I perceive the task as trivial or grand? Is my heart impacted by the tiniest whisper from God? Am I as faithful for five as I would be for five hundred?

Lord, in your strength, I tear down this idol of making and impact and replace it with faith in your ability to fulfill your good and perfect plans no matter what my role.

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From Prison to Purpose

Now I want you to know that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel. Philippians 1:12

During his imprisonment, Paul sent a letter the church in Philippi urging those who were worried about him not be alarmed but instead to rejoice. Why? The gospel was advancing. Paul’s imprisonment was actually his pulpit to bring the good news of Jesus to others.

While our prisons may not be literal, as Paul’s was,  God is more than able to use any limitation we experience  (whether a circumstance, relationship, or physical condition) as His platform for others to hear truth and for us to share the hope we have in spite of the difficulties we are facing. When I consider this idea, I am tempted to think that while that may be true for Paul, no one will benefit from hearing about my unexciting life.  Admittedly, my parenting experiences with a child who has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism and my struggles with depression are minor compared to Paul’s imprisonment for the gospel, but God has given me the opportunity to honor Him in the midst of the circumstances  which He ordained for my life.

In another letter, written by Peter, believers who had been scattered by persecution were reminded to continue to declare the praises of Him who called them out of darkness into His wonderful light. In the midst of their suffering, those chosen by and belonging to God were urged to live such godly lives that others would see their good deeds and glorify God.  In any situation, we can declare God’s faithfulness and loving-kindness. No matter the extent of our limitations, our ability to pray for others is not thwarted.

Although it may be imperceptible to us, the Lord is working in our circumstances bringing opportunities for His grace and truth to reach others. Whether by prayer, or through the written word, or in person, God is leveraging your limitations for the greater progress of the gospel. If you are in a season where your activities or interactions are restricted, allow your “prison” to become His platform to bring the good news of Jesus to someone else.