Maximize impact? I well remember the days of wondering if my life would ever be significant to anyone other than my parents and family. I questioned and searched for purpose. Even as a half-hearted follower of Jesus I prayed that my life would have an impact on the world around me. But at a deeper level I was afraid of the future. I was afraid of failure.
In spite of those thoughts, God has taken me on a journey far beyond what I imagined as a kid. As I look back in hindsight, there are three principles that continue to challenge me to pursue the future aggressively and with hopeful optimism.
Serve God and people with a willing heart.
It was an automobile accident that initially awakened me to become a willing servant of God and people. But since that day—and after 34 years of pastoral ministry—my heart still has a way of becoming resistant, skeptical, self-centered, cynical, and rebellious toward God. And I’m tempted to isolate myself from the very people God has called me to serve. To serve God and people with a willing heart is a choice I have to make every day, lest my life become about me. Every time I make that choice, I become a tool through which God uses to impact others for His purposes. Keep a willing heart!
Contribute massively where you’re gifted.
God has gifted each of us uniquely. It often takes a few years to understand our own strengths and weaknesses, but once we do, we must be wise with that information. “Where God gives much, He expects much in return.” There are two key questions that help me in this area:
In what way has God uniquely gifted and equipped me to invest in others?
Is that where I’m using most of my time, energy, and effort?
Once I can answer those two questions, I’m in a position to maximize my lifetime impact. I may contribute to my church, staff, family, and others in a variety of ways, but I must contribute massively where I’m gifted.
Eagerly walk into new territory.
I was not an adventurous kid. Instead, I craved sameness, stability, and familiarity. I avoided meeting new people. I avoided new experiences. I avoided change. Today, many who know me think I love change! Some have called me a pioneer. The church I’ve led for almost twenty-one years has a reputation and culture of doing new things, of trying what we’ve never tried, of going where we’ve never gone. I’ve even been called on to teach and train people on principles for leading through change. My natural personality still craves sameness, stability, and familiarity, but I’ve learned that I must fight that tendency.
God is not content with leaving people the same. He changes us. He takes us on the most adventurous journeys imaginable. We must train our hearts to trust Him. To walk by faith. And to eagerly walk into new territory each day! Doing so keeps our impact trajectory on an upward climb for a lifetime.
Have you been on an adventure lately? Do you experience maximum impact? If that is your desire, I encourage you to serve God and people with a willing heart, contribute massively where you’re gifted, and eagerly walk into new territory.