Created for Impact

You were created for impact.

So how did you spend your day today?

The Bible teaches that God has laid out plans for your life since before you were born.  Plans for purpose. Plans of good things to drop in your lap, gifts from him simply because he loves you.  Plans for a destiny that is both pleasing to him and rewarding for you.  Plans of action, of good works, projects for you to complete placed along the road in your journey.  Plans of relationships — first with himself, and secondly with others.  Good stuff.

And, efficient planner that he is, he gave you all the equipment you need to fulfill those plans.  “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness — through our knowledge of him” (2 Peter 1:3).

We are born with gifts and talents.  We develop skills.  We grow into the internal desires and ambitions that are hard-wired in our DNA. And those gifts, skills, and desires get amplified when we join his family, and our spiritual DNA enhances our natural abilities.  Because of our relationship with him, now “all things are possible”.  We were created, equipped, and then commanded to touch those around us, to use our abilities to help them.  In a word, to have impact.

So how did you spend your day?

I’ll admit, this is a troubling question for me.  “Today? Really?”  Hmmm.  I dropped some money in the Salvation Army bucket while heading into a store.  I looked at my checking account to see how much I could give to an organization that feeds and clothes the poor.  I spent some time writing to a friend, offering some advice on how to overcome some issues in his life (I like to think of it as “encouragement” but it might more closely resemble “nagging”).  Hey, I did let two cars merge onto the road ahead of me (at two different points!) so they wouldn’t have to wait for the mile-long backed-up holiday traffic behind me.  And, resisting the flesh, I didn’t curse at the woman in the opposite lane who seemed to love the sound of her car horn because she was in a hurry and got stuck in the same traffic as the rest of us.  “Impact? Really?”  Hmmm, what else?  I finished up a major project at work that might help make a few customers’ lives easier. (Does that count?)  Ha! — I did spend some time this morning praying for a few friends (squeezed in between my own urgent requests).  Surely, that counts.

You know, we can’t all be Mother Teresas.  We can’t all be Billy Grahams.  Or even Dr. Phils.  We can only work with what is set before us; we can only touch those people we encounter while going about our work-a-day lives.  But our lives have to be about more than just our own interests.  Like Jesus said to his worried parents, we should be more “about out Father’s business.”  And two things he requires of us: to love him and walk with him, and to love others and be a blessing to them.  To deepen our relationship with him, and to become his hands in this world.

My list today seems so insignificant, so pathetic.  But maybe it’s just a starting point.  We have to prove ourselves faithful in the little things before God can use us in bigger things.  I still have so far to grow in my relationship with him, and in becoming more productive in my day to day activities.  But the desire is there.  I want to live a life of greater impact. 

So how did you spend your day?  Today might not have been your most shining hour either, but don’t give up.

You were created for impact.

Change begins with recognition

I woke up this morning feeling a little irritable.  No particular reason — I went to bed early enough, didn’t eat too late, and the day before was relatively calm and stress-free.  But there I was.  I grabbed my morning coffee and sat in my little study to pray.  At first I stayed quiet, hoping to hear some fresh whisper from God. But then my mind wandered to all the people around me who needed prayer (myself included), and the petitions began.  Well, no new revelation this morning.  And I was a little frustrated about that.  “Okay, Lord, here I am, making myself available, spending time with you, opening myself up, and …?”  Nada.  And then it occurred to me that I was not really hearing God, I wasn’t being sensitive, because I was allowing my frustration to put up a wall in my heart. It was blocking my receptivity.

Hmm.  Still with a bit of agitated assertiveness, I started asking God for the big things that were in my heart, the unrealistic dreams I knew he planted there. And I named them specifically.   (Hey, if you’re gonna ask, you might as well ask BIG.)   And I realized that the “no particular reason” was more about my subtle lingering frustration over feeling like my life is stuck in the mud, not moving fast enough toward those great dreams. 

As I started laying out these bold requests before God, the words percolated to the top of my thoughts: Change begins with a recognition of truth.  Truth in who you are, and what you want.

But it’s not the “hi, my name is Steve, and I’m an alcoholic” kind of truth.  It’s not an admission or recitation of my faults.  It’s an affirming of who I am that God made me to be, and embracing the core truths that make up my spiritual DNA. It’s the positives.  And I realized that those big-ticket requests I was making were actually in line with the identity he gave me: my dreams and desires fit neatly with the image he had shown me years earlier of who he wanted me to be. 
 
But those core truths don’t have be just grand visions of the future. The power of truth applies equally on a smaller, more down-to-earth level. They are truths about our present, about our day to day relationships with people around us.  You could say, for example, “I am a good husband, I love my wife, I take care of her; I provide for her, I make sure she has everything she needs.”  “I am a great worker, I do my job well, I am an asset to my company.”  “I am a good friend, God has placed me here, now, in these people’s lives, and I help them, I bless them, I care for them.” 

Of course, these should not be idle words, or mere wishful thinking.  It’s not hocus-pocus, or some magic formula. The truth should be rooted in God’s plan for you life — what he’s called you to do and who he’s called you to be — but it should also be reflected to some degree by your actions in reality. (If it isn’t, start acting the way you should!) You gotta have a leg to stand on.

As these concepts were racing through my head, I noticed my attitude was suddenly different.  I was calmer, more optomistic, and I felt stronger.  And later at work, I was more friendly with colleagues, less stressed, more confident in the projects before me.  But this isn’t simply a matter of me talking myself out of a bad mood into a better one.   It is the key to all kinds of change in life.  How you see yourself, and what you believe God’s plans for you are, will determine how you act. And how you act now will determine your future.

We’re all dissatisfied with some areas of our lives.  Some things need changing to get us in proper alignment with God’s divine design for us.  And we will be restless and unfulfilled until they are.  But all the necessary changes begin with a simple but profound recognition of who God made you to be and of the dreams and desires he placed inside you.  So if you don’t like who or where you are right now, start focusing on the original blueprint for your life.  Check your spiritual DNA.  See yourself as he sees you, and ask boldy for the dreams he’s given you.  That is who you really are — and that is what you really want.  God’s power begins to be released the moment you recognize the truth.  And that truth will change your life.

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As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.  (Prov 23:7)
You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32)