How Can I Make A Real Difference?
Statistics say that the average person will influence around 10,000 people over the course of a lifetime.
That is massive! This is not just 10,000 people that we will come across, or chat to, or share a library with, it is 10,000 people on whom you and I will make an impact, whom we will have the opportunity to influence for good.
Since the start of 2014, this is something that I've been mulling over: how can I make a difference in the world for God? I like to dream dreams and want to do exciting things to help people, yet so often my life feels so pedestrian. My average day involves getting up, working, eating, perhaps seeing a couple of friends, and sleeping. It doesn't exactly sound world-changing, does it? So how can I be a girl of influence, rather than just going through the motions day-in, day-out?
In Matthew 5:13-15, Jesus says:
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house."
Jesus is saying that Christians should be like salt and light. We all know the power that salt has when we accidentally drench our food in it - we've all done it... sad times! And similarly, we know how difficult it is to do anything when there is a power cut - even finding where you left the matches without stubbing your toe is a story of huge success.
So how can we be salt and light? I found this verse especially helpful: "Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do." (1 Peter 1:13-15)
The last part of this passage sums it up: "be holy in all you do". If we want to be girls who are influential, like salt and light, the Bible says that we should pursue holiness, by setting our hope on God's grace.
Now pursuing holiness can sound a little overwhelming. But really, pursuing holiness is abut pursuing God. God is holy. The more we grasp how holy God is, even one tiny baby step at a time, we see how amazing it is that, by grace, he loves people who are as messy as you and me. The stronger and deeper our relationship is with him, the more we pursue holiness.
Later in 1 Peter, we read:
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (1 Peter 2:9)
We are God's SPECIAL POSSESSION! Reading these words gives me goosebumps! Nothing I have every done, or will ever do, will make me worthy of being God's special possession. However, because of His grace, that is what we are: we are special, and we are His! God has given us SO much. The more we understand how amazing this is, the more we see of God's character. He has given us the gift of a personal relationship with himself, the creator of the universe, who can do immeasurably more than we could even imagine.
Let's be praying that God would help us pursue Him, to pursue holiness, and that the Holy Spirit would be at work in us to help us see a little bit more of how amazing God's love for us is each day. When this happens, our lives will be ones that begin to be characterised by God's priorities, and this is how we truly become girls who make a difference.
So, if the big picture is that we should pursue holiness, how does the detail work itself out? How is this going to change my mundane day-to-day life?
Although this is not something that comes naturally to me, I think it is really important for us to trust God with the details. He created the whole world and everything in it. When I begin to see more of who he is, of how holy He is, and how loving, it is surely easier to trust him with the nitty-gritty details of my life.
It is also worth noticing things that we really love doing, things that God has given us a passion for and things that bring us joy. So for me, at the moment, one of my passions is music. I love to sing, and I really love to sing to my Father in heaven. Singing His praise frees me to express my love for him in a special way, and I believe that the Holy Spirit often uses music to help me encounter God.
I also love trying to give other people time and space to worship God through singing, and this is something that I am really excited about. So whilst my focus is on pursuing God and pursuing holiness, I think it is helpful to prayerfully consider how God might use my passions - so for me, my love of music - for his glory and to make a difference.
For others of us, our passion might be working with children, it might be politics, speaking foreign languages, or you might be a beauty expert (if so, please contact me - winter has not been at all kind to my skin!), or have passion for helping those less fortunate than we are. It will look different for each of us. God can use all of these things for His glory, and can use you and me to make a difference to those 10,000 people that we will influence over the course of our lives.
I don't have a clear picture right now for how God will use me as a girl of influence over the course of my life. But I trust that if I keep my eyes fixed on the Father, if I ask him to show me more of who He is and ask him to use my passions for his glory, then I need not worry about the details.
Let's not forget, we are his special possession - we are dearly loved.
Emma graduated from Cambridge two years ago, having studied law. She now enjoys working in finance, which comes as a surprise to those who know her. Emma lives in Cambridge and loves being a member of Christ Church. She loves music, food, her friends and Jesus and is very excited about her wedding next April.