I will never forget that sentimental moment, out at our beach house, where my pre-teen son let out the epitome of all of his life’s desire. “What is it?” I cried at one of those points of frustration, not knowing how to parent my first born child. “What is it you want?”
I thought he would answer with common route words most sons might; like, “I want to just play video games”, or, “I just want to sleep all day”. But, what he said left me spinning, made me re-evaluate my life and the “simply to survive” existence I was living.
With the fullness and power of any evangelical preacher, His Spirit surged, looking bold at me, both eyes filled with tears. “I just want to change the world”.
At the time, I was taken back…speechless. At the time, I had no answer for this gifted son sitting helpless in my arms…looking for answers. After all, I was just a young mother, trying to pay bills, trying to make sure that somewhat of a healthy meal sat on the table each night.
What was I going to tell him about changing the world? How was I going to lead him to where his heart most passionately and desperately longed to go?
Still, as I searched my heart and scripture, I found a different picture of Christianity than my mundane, “just make it through the day” existence. I found a Christianity led by disciples who lived radically, Acts 17:6 saying God’s people “turned the world upside-down”.
And wasn’t I a disciple of Jesus Christ? Wasn’t I called to that same high calling, to live radically for Jesus? Or was I just supposed to crash at night, exhausted, consumed with my own mundane, futile living?
Why did it become harder as years passed me, to grab ahold of that vision found in my little boy? That vision, if we are honest, inside all of us…”To change the world”?
When along the way did I stop dreaming, growing….really living a life of faith? Didn’t God call us all to have faith like a mustard seed, saying it will move mountains (Matthew 17:20), slay Giants (1 Samual 17), drive us to walk boldly around our own personal walls of Jericho (Hebrews 11:30) so, how did I stumble along the way? When did I stop wanting to change the world? Stop wanting to live…radical?
What I found was that radical world changing often starts with living with, not-so-radical fundamentals. Here are a few tips to encourage you to start reaching, influencing, changing the world for the glory of God:
1. Identify when and where you lost faith.
Like my son and most of us deep inside know…We were made for so much more. Yet, as we get older it is easy to stumble, shrink back, lose the zeal and fervor we had when we were younger. It has helped me to sit down, even write down, what happened, where might I have chosen unbelief over faith? Did a situation take place, did someone betray me, did hardships sway me, or disappoints with God lead me away from a life lived radically in His ways.
Scripture tells us, “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?” (Gal 5:7)
2. Ask God to show you where you have looked inward, instead of upward and outward.
Most religions call you to look inward, but Christianity necessitates a life lived upward and outward. If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you have learned how easy it is to start living for the glory God; but like a slippery slope…family, ministry, route obedience can lead us into a pit of inward, works-based legalism. And dutiful legalism can be hard to be freed from. Motives can get off and instead of living for Christ alone, we start orchestrating situations for our own benefit. Often we can follow God’s purpose, but then as fallible human being, somehow turn our works into something that brings glory to us…comfort or contentment…instead of something done solely for the glory of God and the good of others.
Ask God to search your heart for areas you have been imploding? Where you have taken the ropes and led the horse of your own destiny. Then repent and daily “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, then all these things will be added unto you as well.” (Matt 6:33)
3. Be Authentic in a plastic world.
I have always been a writer. It’s what I do and what I love. But for decades, I didn’t want to create with words. I wanted something bigger, a calling more seen…more like others. But, God made us to be each unique, original, authentic. Isn’t it time we stop copying another person, their family, or their ministry? From my experience, nothing will make us lose faith, impacting the world the most radical-less than comparing, trying to be like or living like someone else. See, 1 Cor. 12:12-31
4. Don’t despise small beginnings.
Ever heard of that saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, or “You can’t eat an elephant in just one bite?” Well, changing the world isn’t something that happens overnight. What gifts, talents, and passions has God put in you to realistically develop practically in your life, right now? Start there, start small. I guarantee that as you are faithful in the small things, (Luke 16:10) God will call you to something larger, something radical…something that will change the world.
5. Think globally, but remember “the one”.
As Christians we are called to reach the world for the glory of God, but we must also remember the “one” God put before us. Who is your “one”…your husband, your neighbor, your children? Like a pond and the ripple effect, we must have faith in the little things before God will ever give us a sustainable, larger ministry. Still even in radical ministry, Jesus always had eyes to see those forgotten ones before Him. He was willing and obedient to touch “the one” along with the business of actively ministering to the multitudes.
6. Don’t leave your strong foundation.
Anyone can change the world. A mother nurturing her children, a believer talking to the dis-heartened one at a grocery store, a friend bringing cookies to her neighbor is changing the world. However, as we walk where God calls us, as we live to change our worlds, we must be careful to remember…people are watching us. Integrity is vital. We must never lose sight of what God has done for us, putting ourselves in a place of humble acknowledgement that anything we do and are is not because of us…but because of what God has done for us. We must keep ourselves in the Word, building our lives continually upon His rock. Where is God calling you? Have you been building upon the rock…or the sand? (Matt 7:24-27)
7. Continually pray.
So many start strong, then get discouraged, sidetracked, lack direction, wisdom, and grace. After all, truth is, we can never reach the world for the glory of God, in our own strength. The greatest world changers came because they first found strength, power, and grace…in the most humble of places; in prayer, upon their knees.
Do not be fooled, God has a great plan and a great destiny for you. He has called you to be more than a conqueror, a victor, an heir, a son or daughter who is called to live for His glory. Still, God calls the humble, not the proud; the lowly, brought down ones; not those who are high and proud.
There is no doubt…you are called to radically change the world. But I wonder first, if it is in the not-so-radical life of humble submission to God that we see our greatest reward? If it is that daily diligence, that self-less obedience, that prayerful position of God-seeking and repentance that leads to that child-like faith that cries out with unhindered God-centered faith…”We are more. We were meant for more. We have the power to change the world”.
I am not sure about you, but I want to be like my son. I want my greatest heart cry to be that prayer birthed in child-like faith, solely by the grace of God, “Lord, let us change the world.”
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Though born, raised, and still living only miles from where she grew up, Jen's heart lies in the nations. Jen loves the beautiful tapestry found in the wide diversity of people, different cultures, and all nations. Jen and her husband have been married twenty years, and have parented fifteen kids and counting; twelve foster, one adopted, and two bios. Her multi-racial family reflects her passion for unity, desire for faith without walls, and missional mindset to share both the gospel and the power of redemption to a world desperately needing the hope found in Jesus Christ. Jen and her husband have led in a variety of ministries; including prayer, small groups, children's, and women’s. Jen advocates for the orphan as a board member for the non-profit, A New Song; and loves doing missions work internationally, along with her family. You can find Jen writing about faith, while challenging her readers at her blog, Rich Faith Rising, as well as at tweeting faith-filled messages @Jen_Avellaneda . Jen is also on facebook.
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10/16/2013 04:06:16 am
Powerful thoughts here: "But I wonder first, if it is in the not-so-radical life of humble submission to God that we see our greatest reward? If it is that daily diligence, that self-less obedience, that prayerful position of God-seeking and repentance that leads to that child-like faith that cries out with unhindered God-centered faith..."
10/16/2013 07:37:11 am
Deb - Thank you for your thoughtful comment! Deep planting friend, yes, I too think that is where the greatest of blessings come from.
10/16/2013 11:21:50 am
Jen, I love all these practical tips. I, too, struggle with the inward, and not outward and upward thing. It seems to rear it's head in certain times of stress or uncertainty and is a battle to put it to rest and put on the Spirit! Thankfully we have such a great Helper to accomplish the task he's called us to! Blessings!
10/18/2013 07:24:48 am
Wonderful advice here! Remaining strong in our foundation (Jesus) is so vital! Thank you!
10/18/2013 10:42:00 am
Wonderful and thought provoking!
10/21/2013 08:48:45 am
Beautiful!! Everything you said so true. Thank you for writing this!
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