Stop Worrying So Much About Making a Big Impact

What are we called to do with our lives?

“She is so successful.” “He is on a path and going somewhere.” “Isn’t it amazing how she’s so purposeful and productive?”

People talk about intentional living like it is the epitome of Christianity, like success in the eyes of our peers is the goal. "Don’t waste time." "Get busy." "Do good."

But Jesus cares so much more about our heart for Him than our work for Him. True that faith without works is dead, but works without faith are useless. And where does faith come from? How does it grow?

In the soil of empty hours, as much as in busy ones. Faith grows with time.

Slowing Down

In a culture obsessed with wasting time as quickly as possible, it's a foreign idea for us to waste time slowly and purposefully. But I think purposefully wasted time isn’t actually wasted. Our culture has become a strange juxtaposition of hundreds of minutes wasted browsing Facebook and no minutes wasted letting our thoughts wander. It is when we allow our minds to quiet and our thoughts to slow down that we can uncover a seed of creativity or nourish the roots of faith.

It is when we allow our minds to quiet and our thoughts to slow down that we can uncover a seed of creativity or nourish the roots of faith.

Being successful is good. But how do you define it? With so many options in life, using time wisely and being good stewards of it is something to be commended. But when success becomes the god of our lives that is when we fall. All too easily it becomes a contest to see who can do the most, make the most money, change the world fastest, climb the career ladder quickest or check off the most life milestones before they turn thirty.

Life is a race. But not the kind you think.

It isn’t a race against other people. It’s a race against time. It’s a race against yourself. It’s a race against the pressure to conform, to measure up, to be enough, do enough, to say the right things, to change the world, to impact the right number of people. It is a race against outside expectations. We are accountable to God, first and foremost. We were made with broader vision, bigger dreams and greater capabilities than any other species on the planet and it wasn’t accidental. With that comes responsibility. A responsibility not to waste our lives. But also a responsibility to enjoy them.

True Value

One of the greatest lies that we’ve been lead to believe is that our lives are only worth something if we produce things that other people value. That is incorrect.

If that were true, almost every poet, painter, author and inventor, would be worthless (and many of them were considered so in their own day). It would also mean that every child would be worthless. Because, what do they produce? Words that don’t mean anything. Pictures of scribbled lines. Loud noises. Food made out of dirt. Not exactly the kind of things people value. And yet children are intrinsically valuable. Why?

The greatest impact we can ever have on the world is by loving Jesus so much that His love transforms us and the way we treat others.

One of the most beautiful things about children is their perspective. Everything is 10 thousand times more important to a child than to an adult. They are not ignorant, carefree little creatures like people so often pretend. They have deep emotions and serious concerns. At the same time, they are able to enjoy things at a level that most adults have forgotten exists.

Meaningful Impact

We live in the shadow of success, in that grey danger zone of "making an impact." And if the impact isn’t big enough by our own personal standards, then our lives aren’t fruitful. When we allow success to become our idol, and try to make the outwards signs of our faith the basis of our faith, we fall into a trap. Working for God, instead of living with God.

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The greatest impact we can ever have on the world is by loving Jesus so much that His love transforms us and the way we treat others.

Instead of applauding the obvious successes, instead of praising only the people who get things done, let’s start praising the people who live life well. Each of us are called to make an impact in this world in different ways, and all of us are called to love people. The kind of love that Christians are supposed to be known for grows best in an unhurried life that is centered on Christ, not success.

It’s hard to be spontaneous when your life is scheduled down to every single hour of every single day. Let’s take a moment to breathe. To slow down. To savor. Maybe we should reschedule our lives to reflect the characteristics we want to see most in them.

Sure, you may not be known for your genius ideas or big house, and you may not be on the Forbes 500 list. But you might be known for your kindness, your compassion or your sense of humor. You might be known for what Christians are supposed to be known for: love.

Top Comments

Joshua

9

Joshua replied to Joshua's comment

P.S. I almost fell out of my chair laughing that "Related Articles" listed one "5 Things World-Changers do before they're 35". I didn't read it, but enjoyed the irony. -JDoney

Joshua

9

Joshua commented…

Spot On Ms Sadler! I have also noticed the 'American Dream Christian' trend and keep coming back to how pointless it is to strive for greatness, even in the eyes of heaven. Our greatness is married to our identity in Christ, and not in the good works. I think the account of Mary at Jesus' feet while Martha bustles around is admirable by Christians, while, in fact, it is the epitome of the nature our relationship with Christ should resemble. Not to say we sit around and ponder the beauty of God all day, rather that the moments when we do encounter His presence serve as the source and fuel for all we do in life. This will always be a struggle as we live in a culture that derives its identity from its success, but I am confident that the more we dialogue about the true source of our identity, we will continue to see more victories - leading to a healthier Church body. Thanks again. it was a good read. -JDoney

9 Comments

Joshua

9

Joshua commented…

Spot On Ms Sadler! I have also noticed the 'American Dream Christian' trend and keep coming back to how pointless it is to strive for greatness, even in the eyes of heaven. Our greatness is married to our identity in Christ, and not in the good works. I think the account of Mary at Jesus' feet while Martha bustles around is admirable by Christians, while, in fact, it is the epitome of the nature our relationship with Christ should resemble. Not to say we sit around and ponder the beauty of God all day, rather that the moments when we do encounter His presence serve as the source and fuel for all we do in life. This will always be a struggle as we live in a culture that derives its identity from its success, but I am confident that the more we dialogue about the true source of our identity, we will continue to see more victories - leading to a healthier Church body. Thanks again. it was a good read. -JDoney

Joshua

9

Joshua replied to Joshua's comment

P.S. I almost fell out of my chair laughing that "Related Articles" listed one "5 Things World-Changers do before they're 35". I didn't read it, but enjoyed the irony. -JDoney

tunesntoons

9

tunesntoons commented…

I would still argue that one must be intentional in their loving of others in order to avoid floating along and accomplishing nothing, but that is not the same race. In order to be intentional about living for Christ, you have to make room for it.

Frank Colarusso

1

Frank Colarusso replied to tunesntoons's comment

Agreed, it's important to rest- but we have to be careful not to just "let our minds wander" instead we should fix our eyes on Christ.

Keith Edwin Schooley

4

Keith Edwin Schooley commented…

Really great article. I'd add that our desire to make a big impact is often rooted, much more than we want to admit, in pride, in self. It's hard for us to drop the illusion that God needs us to accomplish his plan. Rather, he lets us "help," like a small child helps his father with a project. We're much too enamored with our own effectiveness. I love the picture of the honored woman in C. S. Lewis's "The Great Divorce," who is mistaken by the narrator for the Virgin Mary, and who instead ends up being an ordinary woman whom few had heard of, who was simply a blessing to the people around her. We may find that that is the true picture of a success story, from God's perspective.

RichardL

13

RichardL commented…

I can't help wondering what life stage the writer is at here - maybe coming out of a busy career and longing for some quiet, or something like that? Hard to say.

"But Jesus cares so much more about our heart for Him than our work for Him". Really? "Stop worrying about making a big impact?" Huh?

The writer seems to confuse fruitfulness with "success" (mentioned 5 times). Maybe this is the problem here - the writer is reacting to a cultural focus on success by oversteering the other way and suggesting we should forget about living a significant, impactful life. I couldn't disagree more with this article's premise which seems to say "You don't need to do anything, just love Jesus, other people and enjoy thinking deep thoughts."

That's not how I read my Bible at all. On the contrary, the Bible has a great deal to say about what we do e.g.

- Jesus said he brought the Father glory by "completing THE WORK you gave me to DO".
- We are "created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to DO." (Eph 2:10)
- God is glorified when we "bear much fruit" (Jn 15)
- etc etc

I get the whole love thing, but disciples who love Jesus and who know they are loved go on to do great works, greater than the ones Jesus himself did. And surely that will create an impact?

I want my life to mean something, to count for eternity. OK it might be hidden away somewhere behind the scenes, but we were born to do Kingdom things that have an eternal impact and significance and I don't see that I need to let go of the desire for that when I choose to love Jesus and others?

Are we saying the same thing in different ways?

Evan Gilchrist

1

Evan Gilchrist replied to RichardL's comment

I'd have to say I agree with this comment- I think that "success" and "furthering the kingdom" are being confused here; Although I agree that we ourselves can get these confused due to pride, it does seem as though, in my opinion, my generation often tends to fall more on the side of reading our Bibles in coffee shops than in the category of actually doing something. Faith without works is dead, and our faith does not center on us- it centers on Christ and bringing Him glory. Is that most effectively accomplished when I focus on my relationship with Him? Yes, but often, if not always, I would expect cultivating that relationship with Him to lead me to do things for His glory and for His kingdom. The chief end of man is to bring glory to God, not just think deep thoughts. This article is well-written, and brings up som good points that many miss, however, I believe it is missing the last link in the chain- that this should then lead us to obedience to what Christ is calling us to.

daniel

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daniel commented…

Spending time with God, one of the most fulfilling, yet hardest things to do. As another commenter mentioned Mary and Martha. I think most of us are running on the Martha wheel, myself included. But I'm at least partially aware that God's view of success is far from man's or more specifically "America's" view of success. I needn't own a home, have my own business, or travel the world. I do need to live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God... the latter being the most elusive, but in reality the first 2 are impossible without the third. WOW... there's a sermon in there.

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