At Work

Changing the World Might Actually Be Pretty Boring

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Young people today don’t just want to change the world, but they firmly believe they can. One study shows the 74% of Millennial leaders believe they will make a global difference.

Relevant magazine recently published “How to Change the World: Advice from Seven Leaders” in their July/August print issue. They interviewed leaders making a difference in their field – from business, to ministry, to music, to non-profit work – to get an inside look at what it takes to affect real change.

Here are some highlights:

It Will Be Harder than You Expect

“No matter what man’s idea of success looks like, you never know what God is working out in your heart in the process, and that counts for a lot more than the world’s applause.” – Tyler Merrick, founder, Project7 

“You’ll probably overestimate what God wants to do through you in the short run. But you’ll also likely underestimate what God could do through a lifetime of faithfulness.” – Craig Groeschel, senior pastor, lifechurch.tv

It Won’t Be Comfortable

“[Go] way outside your comfort zone and [establish] relationships with people you normally wouldn’t. […] Rather than sitting on the sidelines, you have to get out there, create your own luck and make it happen.” – Debbie Sterling, chief executive officer, Goldieblox, Inc.

Admit You Don’t Know Everything

“In the pursuit of justice, we sometimes try so hard to be a voice for the voiceless that we forget they already have a voice – often-times, we just aren’t listening. We unknowingly trample over those we are trying to serve. […] As we collaboratively pursue our vocation, let us listen better to the stories of those around us.” – Nikole Lim, co-founder and international director of Freely in Hope

Break the Mold

“…be bold, break some rules and throw out traditional playbooks in service of chasing God’s creative impulses whenever they might lead.” – Joshua Dubois, head of Values Partnerships and former presidential advisor

Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

“One mistake I made was growing too fast…my eyes were bigger than my stomach – and it cost me. It cost me a lot. There is a reason you train for a marathon.” – Debbie Sterling

“[One] mistake I made was trying to be all things to all people – this is a niche economy, and by trying to appeal to everyone you really limit yourself. People go to Chick-fil-A because they have great chicken – not burgers, fish, etc. but chicken.” – Tyler Merrick

Every Little Moment Matters

“Don’t discount what you can do locally, regionally or for just one person. We’re people who have a passion to change the world, and that naturally has a really big scope and vision, but it’s a lot. Jesus taught us to be faithful with the little things. Check your ego and steward things and wee what happens after that.” – Tyler Merrick

“Every day you’re alive you change the world. […] No matter who you are, your actions and thoughts every moment of every day have powerful implications for not only your life but the lives of those around you.” – Jon Foreman, lead singer and guitarist, Switchfoot

Changing the World Is Boring

Of all the advice from these leaders, “every moment matters” resonated with me the most. That’s when I realized that changing the world might actually be pretty boring.

We should all have a strong sense of hope and optimism about making a real difference in the world through our vocation, no matter what our age might be. But we shouldn’t expect “changing the world” to feel like we’re on top of a mountain. Most moments will feel ordinary. In My Utmost for his Highest, Oswald Chambers says,

We all have moments when we feel better than ever before, and we say, “I feel fit for anything; if only I could always be like this!” We are not meant to be. Those moments are moments of insight which we have to live up to even when we do not feel like it. Many of us are no good for the everyday world when we are not on the mountaintop. Yet we must bring our everyday life up to the standard revealed to us on the mountaintop when we were there. […] We must learn to live in the ordinary “gray” day according to what we saw on the mountain. 

Changing the world might not feel like we think it will, but maybe that should encourage us even more. Perhaps we are already changing the world more than we know, just by faithfully following God in our most ordinary moments.

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  • Allen Lai

    trying to “change the world” is distressing

  • LuckyDog

    Craig Groeschel nails it: “You’ll probably overestimate what God wants to do through you.” Sure, he went on, but I think that’s the heart of it. While you’re out “changing the world,” what’s happening to the people in your neighborhood?

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