The people who make a difference are those who are different. The non-conformist type, you know! Those whom everyone hates and loves at the same time. They thrive best when swimming against the stream NOT when they are simply going with the flow. Do you know anyone like that?
Look around you and see the people who are making a difference in “their” worlds. Study history (any kind of history – church history, political history, you add to the list). Who are the people that have made a difference in the world? They are people like the Apostles in the New Testament who were said to have turned the world upside down because of their commitment to following Christ and preaching His gospel against all odds! Or Martin Luther, the reformer, who refused to keep believing lies and was willing to challenge the “authorities” in the Roman Catholic Church then – and as a result of that, the Reformation was born! Or the Wright brothers who invented and built the world’s first successful airplane. They defied the conventional wisdom. More recently, it’s people like Steve Job’s who in his own way has changed the world because he refused to “fit in” or be put in a box of other people’s expectations of him. Sadly, these sort of people are few and far between.
The reason many of us will never make a huge difference in “our” worlds is because we are far too comfortable with comfortability. We are far too happy with the status quo. We don’t want to “rock the boat” as it’s often said. But more often than not, boats must be rocked if one is going to do anything of significance. How are you doing?
I hear a lot of people, especially fellow pastors talk about “faithfulness in small things.” Now I know that the Bible talks about that in a several passages like Luke 16:10 or 1 Corinthians 4:2 and others. However, I am often weary of people who talk this “talk.” Not because I disagree with the principle – I am a Christian and I wouldn’t dare to challenge God’s Word as given to us in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. My problem with this “talk” is that it is often used to excuse our laziness, to lower our expectations (and other people’s expectation of us), and to explain away of ineffectiveness, inefficiency and lack of competence in a given task or responsibility. Ministers can be notorious for this but it’s not only ministers. It’s everyone! We all love to fit in. We all love to be well-thought of. We all love a comfortable existence and so we often choose the path of least resistance.
In 1 Corinthians 4:2-4 (one of the passages used to excuse mediocrity and our tendency to “fit it), Paul is actually doing the opposite. He is not trying to fit in. Listen to what he says, “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.” He was defiantly bold in what he did. This does not mean that he was trusting in himself instead of trusting God. No! Quite the contrary! In another passage, he writes, “I am what I am by the grace of God, and His grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, yet it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (Italics mine for emphasis).
That’s all, I will say on that (that was a detour). The point I am making is this: every person is unique and thus, you should not be afraid to be unique in the way you live your life. You will never make a difference that way. Pursue your calling with every ounce of energy the LORD has given you; use your time and talents to the fullest; spend and be spent for His cause and purposes. And aim at actually achieving something while you are at it. Mediocrity does not fit in the Christian vocabulary. But even in the secular world, mediocrity is not celebrated but frowned upon.
So whoever you are, Christian or not, aim to make a difference in “your” world. If you are Christian, pray when you are praying! Pray expecting that your prayers will make a difference! If you are a preach, preach when you are preaching! Preach expecting that your preaching will make a difference! If you are a teach, teach when you are teaching! Teach expecting that your teaching will actually make a difference in somebody’s life and in “your” world! The list is endless, add yourself to the list and apply this message to yourself!
Remember, the people who actually make a difference are often those who don’t quite fit in – the mavericks! The ones who defy the odds and conventional wisdom! The ones who don’t act in the same way as everyone else. The ones who would rather take risks than follow the status quo.
What about you? Do you consider yourself one of those people who goes against the grain and challenges established thinking? If so, “Bravo!” Go hard at whatever it is that you are doing and make a difference in “your” world!