Who doesn’t want to change the world?
I feel that every single one of us alive wants to make a difference in the world; be significant; live an impactful life.
I’m not merely projecting here, am I?
My issue is, when I engage in something I want it to have a big, deep, and lasting impact. Not only that, I want the results immediately.
The Jesus effect
I want people to have the effect Jesus had on Zacchaeus.
Jesus had one conversation with Zacchaeus and Zacchaeus turned his life around 180 degrees. Whatever Jesus said had such an impact on Zacchaeus, he pledged to give half of his money to the poor and if he had defrauded anyone, he’d pay them back quadruple times the amount. Zacchaeus was a tax collector. He definitely defrauded someone.
But I want to have that kind of reaction to what I do from a majority of people — not just one.
Ultimately, this is driven by ego. I want to make sure that what I engage in is worth the sacrifices I’ll have to make. I want to be noticed in how I’m playing a major part in the changing of the world.
I want to be validated and affirmed. Which, to be fair, these are not detrimental things to desire. However, if those are the sole reasons for wanting to “change the world”, what kind of change am I really seeking?
Here’s the hard cold truth (perhaps more for me than you): not all of us are going to impact the whole world. A majority of us will not have the power, influence, idea, invention to impact and change the entire world.
And that’s okay. Who wants that kind of pressure anyway?
But all of us can make a difference in someone’s life.
We may not able to change the world, but we can change someone’s world.
One of the ways we can do that is to be committed to serving our community and neighbors. Being a constant inviting presence. Being rooted in our neighborhood and embodying the love, grace, and hope of Christ.
We can do this by being blessing people.
But how does one really bless someone?
How to be a blessing
Blessing was always rather abstract in churches. We’d say things like, “bless their hearts” — which, you know, isn’t a blessing. We say “Bless you” after someone sneezes. We say “Have a blessed day” and “I’m so blessed” but, really, what does all that really mean?
Michael Frost tackles this in his book Suprise the World:
I’ve heard that part of the etymology of the term ‘to bless’ is ‘to add strength to another’s arm’... what does it mean to add strength to another’s arm? Anything that relieves their burden in life. Anything that helps them breathe more easily. Anything that lifts their spirit or alleviate their distress.
That’s… doable, right?
We most definitely can “add strength to another’s arm.”
How can I help someone breathe just a little bit easier?
How can I leave this situation/interaction/person better than I found it/them?
The great thing is that it doesn’t have to be a massive thing. An uplifting snail mail; an encouraging text; bringing over a meal; catching up for coffee/drinks; giving them a lift to the airport; treating them to a meal; actively listening to their situation; able to help with bills; being fully present, yet engaging in mindless activities with them; offering to babysit; able to help with one’s rent — how can I make this moment better for my neighbor?
As Mother Teresa once said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
So we keep on doing things (both small and great) with great love, blessing people that we encounter. Granted, we might not make that much of a difference in the world doing this, but we might be able to make a difference for that person.
Maya Angelou has that beautiful quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Let’s go forth to help people feel blessed and loved. Let’s make blessings less abstract and more tangible.
Instead of having lofty thoughts of how we can change the world, let’s aim to be difference makers in moments: how can I make a difference in this moment; how can I make this moment better?
May your faith continue to lead you to be a blessing for others.
Joseph Yoo is a West Coaster at heart contently living in Houston, Texas with his wife and son. He serves at Mosaic Church in Houston. Find more of his writing at josephyoo.com.