What if you knew how to live a meaningful life full of impact and purpose? How much relief would that bring to you? How would you live your life differently? Some of the most important aspects of living a good life are to be determined to live it well, to make a difference, and to have clarity on your uniqueness. We are uniquely equipped as individuals to be a blessing to each other and to our world. But how do we determine how to utilize our tools to go forth and make an impact? I seek to guide you forward in discovering how to tap into your Impact Matrix to lead a life that will make a real and significant difference in our world.
How Do We Harness Our Tools to Make a Tangible Difference?
I consider this thought to be one of the most important questions to answer in one’s life. While the weight of this question may seem daunting, the good news is that we are all already equipped with specific tools to help us make a difference. These tools are your gifts, talents, passions and resources. Where these tools intersect is what I refer to as your Impact Matrix.
Each of us possess spiritual, God-given gifts, inherent within us. God created us in His image and gave us specific gifts that we use to take care of ourselves and our neighbors, and to give back to the world. Scripture tells us that these gifts are closely connected to our core being as humans.
1 Corinthians 12: 4-7 affirms this claim when it says “[T]here are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
Diving into your spiritual gifts takes a lot of time. There is a lot to learn about each one, and about how to best use it to glorify God and to do good. The image below names each gift listed throughout the bible. It is worth taking the time to research and delve deeply into these gifts to determine which you feel God has equipped you with.
To highlight a few, the gift of discernment is the ability to perceive or judge, especially as it connects to God’s desire and Kingdom impact. The gift of leadership is the ability to be used by God to lead His people into His promises and will. As you read the old testament, God repeatedly calls people to lead in times of major crisis. In the new testament, he chose twelve disciples, who became apostles and launched a global movement that still exists today. The gift of teaching is valuable, as God gives unique insights to those whom he has gifted, and these people can lead the rest of us as we do our best to live out in the flesh what God calls us to do. When I think of someone like C.S. Lewis, I can only imagine he had the gift of teaching, through his writing and speaking that has added so much value to the world.
- Have you ever heard a brilliant motivational speaker and you knew something special was taking place?
- Have you read a book that moved your soul and stirred your heart?
- Have you listened to a song and felt moved by the lyrics, or were mesmerized by a piece of art and how awe inspiring it was? Have you ever left a movie with its message weighing on your heart or your mind?
- Have you dropped your child off at daycare or at school and had peace of mind knowing someone dedicated and nurturing would be caring for them, protecting them and encouraging them?
The answer to the above questions, at some point in your life, is probably yes. These questions are some, of many, examples of people using their talents to make a difference in our world.
There is an important distinction between gifts and talents. You have gifts that are God-given, but talents are skills that you have acquired through life via education, practice, or experiences. In the above examples, a writer may use his or her unique storytelling ability to evoke meaningful contemplation in the minds of others. A person passionate about film or photography can utilize that medium to promote a thought or posit an idea. A person who is skilled at nurturing can make an important impact by caring for others, serving the community as a caregiver, teacher, nurse. Think about what your talents may be. How can you leverage your skills, your education, and your experiences to make a meaningful difference in others’ lives?
What motivates you? What keeps you up at night? What do you love to do? Now, try to connect your passions in life with doing good. Maybe you love and value education – you could get involved by giving your time, financial resources, or advocacy to an educational nonprofit. If you love job creation or healthcare, you can find simple ways, like volunteering, to get involved. If you love fashion, you could support artisan groups by purchasing their products and shopping at their businesses.
So, take a moment and now consider: what are you passionate about? For me, when I met a child, who was orphaned and in need of food at a gas station, ending the orphan crisis became my passion. After spending years caring for children who were orphaned around the world, I realized the best way to care for them was to shift the narrative to keep their families together in the first place, so that moms and dads would not have to make the unbearable decision to leave their children at an orphanage. That passion inspired me to start Help One Now, which now has the goal to empower 100,000 families. We have a real chance to see this vision come to fruition because thousands of others share this passion and are helping us empower families.
Of course, this is not my one and only passion. I’m heartbroken over the refugee crisis. I want to go crazy that racism is still a real issue in our world. It’s baffling that clean water is still inaccessible in so many areas. I will, at times, do what I can to help address these issues. However, with all of the brokenness and chaos in our world, I still find that the majority of my energy goes directly into my passion of keeping families together because I know that this is the best way for me to do the most good. All of this is not to say that you cannot expend energy in more than one passion, but instead, I propose that devoting your efforts on one or two things you are truly passionate about helps focus your impact without spreading yourself thin.
We each have an expansive wealth of resources at our disposal. Each resource can be used to make a difference. The key is understanding what our resource base is, and how we can then activate our resources to make an impact.
I remember in 2013, Help One Now took a trip to Haiti with some very gifted writers. These folks built powerful platforms, and together they rallied their followers to raise money to build a school in Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2012. They used their talents as brilliant writers to activate their resource, which was all the people who followed them on social media. They activated another vital resource: their time — they volunteered their time to do the work that was necessary to go to Haiti, write about their experience, and ask people to be generous and build a school. To be clear, you do not have to be a writer with a huge platform to effectively make a difference. You have a wealth of your own resources that you can draw from: maybe you have some extra time in your schedule to volunteer, or you can use your money to be generous and donate. Maybe you have influence with family, friends, and co-workers, who you can rally together for a cause. Maybe your resource is your education and knowledge you’ve gained, which you can use to advocate for or inform others about a cause. Every human has powerful resources that they can leverage, and when they do, they can make a significant difference in the world.
The Importance of the Matrix
We all have gifts, talents, and passions, and resources. If we choose to view those abilities as ways to build only our own kingdoms, we miss out on the most fulfilling work we can set ourselves to in the world—partnering with God to love our neighbors. Are you ready for the better way? Change always begins with intentional choices. And once you decide what tools you will utilize, you can embrace the calling to do good and solve problems that will improve the world.