We long to count.
We want to matter to the world. We long to make a difference. We get bored, tired, even depressed by routine and monotony. We’re desperate for significance. We’re searching for acknowledgment. We beam when someone says, “You matter.” We seek praise, accolades and awards, but somehow once we achieve them, they feel empty and we move on to another desperate search for the next fix that will affirm our worth.
Can you relate?
You are specifically designed to impact the world in a way that no one else can. That’s the influence that has been given to you and to no one else. You have a specific purpose, a calling that only you are qualified to fulfill.
But what does it look like? How do we discover it? How do we find passion and purpose in living out our influence?
Here are a few ideas:
1. Conduct a Self-Inventory.
Study yourself. It seems elementary, but life adds layers that you begin to absorb and adapt to, things that have come to define you without your intention. Before long, you’ve lost sight of what is truly unique and different about you.
What are the gifts and talents you possess? What experiences and opportunities have shaped your life thus far? This collection of gifts, talents, experiences and opportunities is unique to you. It’s what begins to define and set you apart.
Take time and reflect on these nuances that make you unique.
2. Build a Plan.
Much like an architect must create detailed designs for a project, we must take the elements of our self-inventory and build a plan with them. What are the dreams and goals you hope to accomplish? What is the legacy you desire to leave behind?
As you may have heard, “begin with the end in mind.” You won’t achieve what you don’t design.
3. Go Your Own Way.
We’re coached to observe other leaders, and I believe there is great wisdom in studying how others live their lives and exert their influence. But if we’re not careful, we can succumb to mimicry rather than individuality.
Be humble enough to heed the wisdom of others and evaluate all the options, but be confident in the unique ways that you are gifted and go your own way when necessary.
4. Resist What Holds You Back.
We quickly create excuses for why we can’t do what we long to do. Whatever the challenge you’re facing, you must be aware of the resistance you create for yourself, often subconsciously. Rather than hold yourself back, you need to lean in. It’s a posture of engagement rather than retreat. It’s an attitude of confidence rather than defeat.
5. Start Where You Are.
Every significant dream begins with seemingly insignificant steps. Construct the scaffolding that will support the building of your vision. Approach each day with the intention to take another step, to lay another brick. Read, study, learn, grow, network—do whatever will continue to build toward your goal. Define it every day and evaluate your progress regularly.
We get to leave a mark. We are meant to make a difference. As Catherine of Siena so aptly put it, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
Jenni Catron serves as the Executive Director of Cross Point Church, a multi-site church in Nashville, Tenn. She blogs at jennicatron.tv. She leads the staff of Cross Point and oversees the ministry of its five campuses. Find her on Twitter @jennicatron.