6 Things Holding You Back From Making a Difference

Examining a few of the the things that get in the way of being world changers.

As a child, I used to dream of changing the world. But now, I no longer treat that dream as a reality.

That desire to dream big and make an impact still lives on inside me, but I’ve buried it deep inside my imagination and tend to think of it as a fantasy.

We all want to be world changers, but many of us give up on the idea as childish and unrealistic. Maybe we think we can’t make much difference as one person, or our contribution will be too small. We can become complacent, settling into our normal routines and giving up on the idea that we can really make an impact.

But recently I began changing my perspective on things. I realized that it is only a choice not to make a difference in the world, and an idiotic one at that. There are no real circumstances truly hindering us from making a difference, whether it’s in the lives of two people or 2 million, whether through giving of our time, talents, money, influence or whatever else.

If we search deep down in our hearts for the true reasons we choose not to engage toward making an impact, I believe we’ll find petty, avoidable circumstances with no depth to them. Here are just a few of those reasons:

1. Comfort

In our age of convenience and instant gratification, We are told that comfort is king, when in reality comfort is a lie. It’s funny how we race so hard to get from one place of comfort to the next. It’s how we are conditioned to behave in our society.

We believe life is best lived when we are lounging on the beach just watching the waves, but maybe life is better lived when we’re swimming the sea, working against the raging current.

Don’t let comfort dictate your willingness to engage in meaningful work.

Don’t let comfort dictate your willingness to engage in meaningful work. To really make an impact, you almost always have to step outside of your comfort zone. Be willing to get uncomfortable, and don’t give into thinking comfort is where you belong.

No smooth road leads to the top of the mountain; you only get there by climbing.

2. Entitlement

Entitlement is a selfish lie. It tells us we deserve things when we actually don’t. It has our best interest in mind, but the problem is that it holds this interest above the sake of others.

Making a difference is an inherently unselfish act. In its true nature, it lifts us out of ourselves to see the world from a higher perspective, one that highlights the needs of society and our ability to be the solution.

The truth is we don’t deserve anything, and If we simply keep telling ourselves what we feel we deserve, we’ll never truly be able to see the needs of others. This world we’ve been given cries out for a movement of people healing what has tainted her beauty. It’s up to us to let go of our entitlement and ask God to use us to bring about justice and change.

3. Apathy

In our modern age, we’re flooded with information about every problem, every cause, every heartbreaking conflict. The overwhelming amount of things we should care about can make it easier to just shut down and not care about anything.

Apathy is my archenemy. There are times when my heart doesn’t break, doesn’t budge a centimeter for the cause of others. My lack of compassion often translates into no interest.

But, I’ve learned that compassion works best like a muscle. It requires the exercise of involvement, stepping into the situations you wouldn’t normally deal with.

The more you steep yourself into the needs of others, the softer your heart will become.

4. Money

Quite possibly the greatest excuse to not making a difference is money. It seems like we always see the media highlight the generous actions of celebrities, and we start to believe that the only way we could make a change is if we have a certain amount of money. But this is a lie.

Money is useful, but it’s not everything. Even the poorest person can make a lasting change, because true change is measured in the heart and not in numbers. If we can affect how a person lives, interacts and sees the world, then we’ve made a difference.

Money doesn’t dictate our ability to make a change. It might help, but don’t forget about the little ways one can make a difference through small acts of great depth.

5. Time

Many people believe they’re busier than they actually are. When we pack our schedule, making a difference often comes last. We think we’ll get around to it when we have some spare time after we get everything else done.

When we pack our schedule, making a difference often comes last.

The reality is we all have time to do something. It’s what we choose to do in the time we have that makes a difference. Many people might spend their downtime lying on the couch or surfing the Internet, but this is time that could be used for something more life giving.

The little amount of time we have carries with it the responsibility to make an impact. We could do great things with our time, but it all begins with accepting that burdensome responsibility or not.

Time is not our enemy, but how we treat our time is.

6. Yourself

In the end, the only true hindrance we have is the lies we use to justify our complacency. Underneath the petty falsehoods lies something true, something deep feeding our inaction. It might be a lack of courage or self-respect stopping us, but it’s time we filter through the excuses above and cut to solving the true matters that hold us back. Once we confront what’s stopping us, I believe change will be a natural result of us living our lives.

It’s time to sift through the pettiness of our excuses, and become part of the solution this world needs. It’s time to posture ourselves with change rather than schedule it. It’s time to make a difference by living lives of impact.


Emily Lofgren


Emily Lofgren commented…

This is great. I think one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is that there's not enough time. We will always make time for the things that matter to us. It's just a matter of what we have to give up to do so.

Luke Thomas


Luke Thomas commented…

"Making a difference" is not an unselfish act. If you elevate the lives of others, then you have just elevated the social infrastructure; within which, you prefer to live. This is an 'enlightened self-interest'. "Comfort" is a variable threshold for uncertainty or cognitive dissonance; interdependent among evolving skills of exploration. Therein arises the synergistic self or "yourself" and it's dynamic functional empowerment. But we are all restricted by the laws of physics; in & around us. We are social animals and are psychologically programmed by this parameter of survival. This is why culture lags technological ephemeralization--to allow for integration. Reflectively, Monetary exchange--now unnecessary, is the structural violence of leveraging each other against relative control over resources. Hence, you have your resulting mentality of "entitlement" or narrow self-interest; perpetuated by this neurotic culture of acquisition and hoarding. "Apathy" and "time" are both the editing of relevance; based on the relative acuity of the aforementioned narrow perspective. But this level of autonomy is the collective momentum of skills we develop by sequential experiences. That is, variations in behavior and selections for quality in life--through history. AKA 'the scientific method' or 'trial & error' as we accumulate system adaptations or refine behavioral patterns in congruence with affect interpretation. Since there is no independent mechanism in the brain, the premise for personified blame is a fallacy. Instead, we must elevate causal understanding; furthering spatial awareness. We are all constantly upon situational discovery. Our skills emerge systematically and in synergy. To "make a difference" is to acknowledge and communicate this connectedness; for understanding facilitates action and is the perpetuating function of an enlightened self-interest. P.S. I have no need of the anthropomorphic hypothesis suggested in this article since it based on circular logic and without evidence; other than what our illusory senses may confabulate.

Steven Green


Steven Green commented…

I would add #7: Doing it alone.

Really, I think we often place too much importance on our own individual contributions, asking ourselves, "How can I change the world?" where "I" is the centerpiece of the discussion, rather than asking "How can WE change the world?", or better yet, "How is God changing the world?"

From my own experience, focusing too much on myself and my own contributions simply elevates a bit of a god-complex, believing that it is my individual job as the sole responsible person in this crazy place who will fix things once and for all. Not only can that develop into an attitude that denigrates everyone else on the planet, but it can also develop into an attitude where God is no longer part of the picture at all.

John Lankford


John Lankford commented…

Could it be that one of God's most beautiful promises to His people is that we are never alone and that our inheritance can most readily be experienced as we step into the curious puzzles of humanity on a daily basis. We live in interesting times with painful challenges that can draw us out into adventures that stretch our dependence on a God who designed us for dependance. Who is my sister/brother and where can I walk with them into a changed, integral life for both of us? Stepping out of comforts seems to be the first step to a moving into this lavish kind of community that is our inheritance if we pursue open handed living.

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