God created each one of us with an inbuilt desire to know who we are and what we are here for. We long for a sense of meaning and purpose. We each need a clear sense of ‘vision’ (Prov.29:18) that we can passionately pursue, and that vision comes from God (Gen.1:26-28). Here at CityLife, we have a strong sense of purpose. This is reflected in our Mission Statement which declares that our mission is ‘to raise up fervent followers of Jesus Christ who will reach out and impact communities, cities and nations for the kingdom of God’. This is ‘why’ we exist as a church. Our Vision 2010 Statement puts some legs on this mission by painting a picture of what our church could look like by the year 2010. It contains some faith goals for us to prayerfully stretch towards as we seek to maximise our God-given potential. See the March monthly newsletter for an update.Called to Impact
Notice that our mission is to “… reach out and impact …” God is calling each one of us to ‘move to the next level’ and to increase the level of our impact. God has called us to be ‘out there’, not hidden away like a lamp under a basket. Jesus came to let people know that the kingdom of God had arrived and that it was spreading in its influence. The kingdom of God is within us (God’s rule and reign) and we are to impact all around us with his love and goodness.
What is ‘impact’? In the natural it means the striking of one thing against another; a forceful contact; a collision. Figuratively, it means to have an impact or effect on someone or something; to influence. God's purpose for us is that we impact our world. There is no doubt about that. We see this right from the original mandate given to Adam and Eve after creation (Gen.1:26-28). We see it in Jesus’ instructions for his followers – his church (Mt.5:13-16). We see this in the Great Commission given to Jesus’ followers (Mt.28:18-20). Jesus commissioned them to world-wide influence. This influence refers to every aspect and sector of society – family, religion, government, education, business, arts and media.
We are called to influence others positively and move them towards fulfilling the purposes of God for their lives. All of us influence other people to some degree. The question is not whether we are influencing people but what kind of an influence we are having. We each have different spheres (or areas) of influence and we all have different degrees (extent) of influence within those spheres. Also, our influence or impact can grow or it can shrink.How to Increase Your Impact
How do we impact our world … and how can we increase our impact?
In many ways, impact or influence is an ‘outcome’ (result) not an ‘input’ (a thing you cause to make happen).
It’s a bit like health or even wisdom – it is the result of other things (habits). What are some things we can do or give attention to that will increase the breath and the depth of our influence? Let’s glean some lessons from the life of David who went from being a shepherd boy to become to one of the greatest kings of the nation Israel.
- Develop your Character. God chose David and increased his personal influence and impact because of his heart. The Lord described him as a ‘man after his own heart’ (1 Sam.13:14; 16:7. Acts 13:22). God works from the ‘inside out’. What’s happening on the inside of us is very important to God – our thoughts, attitudes, motives and character qualities.
Ultimately, our greatest influence usually comes from ‘who we are’ as a person, not ‘what we do’. If you take a moment to think about the people who have impacted you the most, I’m sure you’ll discover that it was the character of their life that made the biggest impression on you, not their talents, gifts or abilities. In the same way, who you are as a person will most likely have a greater influence on those to whom you minister than any specific thing you do, whatever that may be. Who we are often speaks louder than what we say. People tend to do what they see other people they respect doing. Nothing is more harmful than people who give good advice or who are very talented but who are poor examples in the way they live. Each one of us is influencing and being influenced. The issue is not whether we influence others but what kind of an influencer we will be. What do you want people to be like? You be that kind of person. Ultimately, the people you influence will be a reflection of you, for better or worse. You are being watched! So think about the kind of example you are giving people to follow.
Character is the foundation of all of life and ministry. It gives credibility, safety and accountability. We are to be changed into the image of Christ and be conformed to His character and nature. This occurs as we partner with the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our life (Phil.2:12-13). As we develop good character like David did, our impact and influence will increase.
- Improve your Skill. David developed his skills and abilities – in music, warfare, speaking and personal presentation (1 Sam.16:18). This prepared him for greater influence.
Every follower of Christ should develop their life and ministry skills because God desires excellence. The Spirit anoints and uses our spiritual gifts and natural abilities. Lack of skill may limit God's use of us. Skill refers to the level of competence you have in carrying out a task. Skill is what you can do. It refers to excellence in ability – like an experienced craftsman. There are God-given abilities and gifts resident within each one of us. We must develop them. Receive training from others, learn new skills and strengthen your weaknesses. Be the very best you can for His glory. Aim for excellence, not mediocrity. Stretch yourself and keep improving (Prov.22:29). As we develop our skills like David did, our impact and influence will increase.
- Seek God’s Favour. It was said about David that “the Lord was with him” (1 Sam.16:13, 18). He was anointed with oil and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. The anointing is the power to do what God has called us to. It refers to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. It is God’s ability or enablement. Every Christian needs to be anointed because it is God's presence and power that enables true impact and influence. Anointing is not personality or charisma, style or technique, natural ability or talent.
We receive the anointing by spending time with God (prayer, worship, God’s word, fasting, etc). Spend time getting to know the Holy Spirit - fellowship with Him. Learn sensitivity to His voice. Also, humility attracts God's favour and is the key to receiving more of God’s grace on your life (Prov.15:33; 18:12. 1 Pet.5:5-6. Jas.4:6). As we seek God’s favour on our lives, our impact and influence will increase.
We need all three of these qualifications - character, skill and anointing. They are absolutely necessary if we desire to impact others positively. Also, remember that the purpose of any influence we have or receive is to bring glory to God and to extend his purposes in the earth. It’s not about US – it’s all about Him!
Are you preparing for impact or waiting for it? Develop your character, improve your skill and seek God’s favour. As you do you’ll see your impact increase.Sample Discussion Questions
- Why are things such as ‘purpose’, ‘mission’ and ‘vision’ so important?
- Share about some people who have positively impacted your life. What was it that caused them to influence you?
- What do you think are some of the most important character qualities to develop?
- How does development of our skills and abilities impact people?
- Describe God’s favour’. How do you recognise it? What does it look like? How would you discern when it is absent?
- Spend some time praying for one another for an increase of impact and influence this year (see Jabez’ prayer in 1 Chron.4:9-10).