What It Takes To Make A Difference
My guess is that you want to make a difference. Deep down is the desire to contribute to the world in a way that leaves it better than it was before. However, you may overlook the brilliant contributions you are able to make day to day because it’s the world-changing differences that count in your mind.
The truth is that small contributions add up!
Superheroes continue to be wildly popular. As a culture, the idea of being able to swoop in and instantly accomplish something unprecedented and remarkable for good is incredibly appealing.
The superhero concept is not new. While many believe Superman to be the oldest superhero, Mandrake the Magician debuted four years before Superman hit the scene in 1938. Mandrake the Magician’s superpower: he was able to make people believe anything, simply by gesturing hypnotically.
Since the introduction of Mandrake the Magician and Superman, there have been a whole host of superheroes created. No doubt your favorite superhero has come to mind!
I confess the concept of costumed crime fighters with special powers is not really my thing. But the idea of jumping in and saving the day – that’s something I‘m on board with! Who doesn’t light up with the prospect of making a difference?
A Purpose and Plan
When it comes to making a difference, God has a purpose and a plan for each of us. He has something perfectly suited for the unique person He has created you to be. It’s something you will find outrageously fulfilling AND that brings Him glory.
God may have placed something significant on your heart – something that seems too big or too hard to accomplish. Yet, because it’s something you are passionate about, sharing the vision and taking steps to reach your goal initially doesn’t take much effort. In fact, you venture out enthusiastically, and then, in keeping with the superhero mentality, you expect your vision to instantly become reality.
In my experience, big visions or goals rarely happen overnight. That’s because the only One who is able to swoop in and take unprecedented action is God. He’s the real superhero!
For the rest of us, it requires a slow and steady plodding over an extended period of time to accomplish something sizable while carefully following His leading. Often, it is simply living out who God created you to be that makes a profound difference.
Saul is seemingly an example of an instant success: he saw a bright light and encountered Jesus in a “superhero” sort of way that suddenly and radically altered his name and his life. It led to his conversion, and, as a result, he had a powerful effect on many, including those of us who read his letters in the New Testament today. (Acts 9:1-9) Wouldn’t you like to have that kind of ongoing impact? I would!
After Saul’s conversion, God changed his name to Paul. He went on to work with Christians in Damascus, the desert regions of Arabia, and Jerusalem. Opposition from Jewish leaders forced him to go to Tarsus where he worked for about ten years – his preparatory years. It was after this preparation that Paul left on his first of four missionary journeys. None of his famous letters were written until his second missionary journey, and don’t overlook that several of his letters were written from jail.
Paul’s goal was lofty: sharing the Good News with the gentiles. He worked steadily and consistently towards that goal.
Paul & Superheroes
So, what does Paul have to do with superheroes? Perhaps the real superheroes are those who, like Paul, stay the course day after day in spite of the circumstances they are in – Captain Steady! Paul certainly faced situations I can’t even imagine, like being beaten, stoned, imprisoned, and being ship wrecked three times. He went hungry, was thirsty, and survived the cold, and experienced significant sleep deprivation. (2 Cor. 11:23-28) He had a myriad of reasons to give up and yet he stayed the course. I don’t know if I would have had that kind of fortitude.
Maybe you‘ve been pursuing the vision God’s placed on your heart, your calling, or daunting goals for some time and yet are not making the progress you anticipated. I imagine Paul having similar feelings during the ten years he was in Tarsus.
What kept Paul focused and continuing to pursue his calling? Paul was…
- Clear on WHO called him and WHAT he was called to do.
- Faithful to the calling even when everything seemed to be working against him.
- Not discouraged by terrifying or violent opposition.
- Patient, consistent, and intentional.
- Not venturing out on his own – he took faithful believers on his journeys.
- Clear about his values and lived them out.
- Fully reliant on God.
- Persevering – he didn’t give up
While the path to your big dream, goal, or calling may not be as dangerous as Paul’s, although the path is sure to have its ups and downs and moments where you might even think you’re on the wrong path. That’s when it is time to hunker down and follow Paul’s example.
Here are five ways to become more of a “Captain Steady” superhero:
1. Take Small Steps Every Day
When you take them consistently, small steps add up! What small steps will you take every day that will get you closer to realizing your vision, walking in your calling, or reaching your goals?
Focus on the steps that will have the greatest impact. Remember to rest on Sunday – perhaps that’s the day you focus on praying and seeking God’s direction.
2. Anticipate Obstacles
Even Paul was not immune from obstacles! On the contrary, he probably encountered greater obstacles than you or I will face. When obstacles pop up, and they will, how will you handle them? While in prison, Paul continued to rejoice in the Lord, pray, and write! (Acts 16:25-26)
Rejoicing in the midst of obstacles is not easy for me! As I have shared previously, I battled Lyme disease. It was an up and down adventure that went on for more than two years. There were good days and bad days. Some weeks were incredibly hard, and while I did turn to God and pray, my first inclination was not always to rejoice!
As I’ve gotten older, I’m less surprised when obstacles appear and I’m quicker to face them with curiosity. What will God do this time?
3. Keep Your Eyes Open
Don’t get so set on what moving forward will look like that you miss the divine opportunities that God offers you! Pay attention to what God’s up to and let Him lead you!
I am continually amazed by the seemingly out of the blue ways God blesses me and my coaching business. I’d like to say they are the direct result of my amazing efforts, but it’s abundantly clear to me that it is all God. That’s encouraged me to work intelligently, stop striving, and trust that God is at work on my behalf even when I can’t see it. That doesn’t mean that I’m not doing anything, but rather I do my part and trust Him with the rest.
4. Superheroes Need More Than Tights and A Cape
The make-believe superheroes in movies and comic books all have their own unique costumes that, frankly, take guts to wear! Thankfully, releasing your inner superhero doesn’t require such getups.
Instead, hang up your tights and cape and enlist the help of a solid support system to lean on when the going gets tough! That might be a network of friends and family, a spouse, or a coach. A community to keep you on task, challenge your limiting beliefs, point you to God, and help you be more creative than you would be on your own.
5. Remember Who Planted the Vision – the One Who Called You
The most important factor of all as you set out to pursue something significant is staying tightly connected to the source! The lover of your soul, the Vision Giver, the One who called you in the first place. Make time for Him daily! Savor time in His presence. Nurture that relationship. You want to know and recognize His voice so you are able to follow His lead!
No doubt your vision, goals, or calling, have the potential to make a happy difference. What dulls the brightness of your vision? What dampens your excitement around your goals or causes your calling to fade?
If “Captain Steady” is the superhero that makes a difference, how will you be steadier and more consistent going forward?