How to Make an Impact on Your World
Who has had the biggest influence on your spiritual development? Perhaps one of your parents, a pastor, or another mentor comes to mind. For the first-century church, the apostle Paul was such a figure, and he remains an example for us today. Not only did he preach the gospel until his death, but he also modeled how to live the Christian life (See 1 Corinthians 11:1.)
The tremendous scope of Paul's influence was determined by the specific calling God had for his life. But since the principles he lived by are unchanging, let’s consider what made his life so effective.
1. He learned to depend on the power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul knew that he needed to rely on the ability of Christ to live through him (Gal. 2:20).
- Read Romans 8:11-14. How are believers to overcome sin, or the “deeds of the body”?
- How does verse 14 describe the children of God?
- Why do you think we have a tendency to “do it ourselves”?
- In what ways would you experience greater personal victory by consistently leaning on God instead of trying to handle challenges on your own?
2. Paul sought and relied upon fellowship with other believers.
Most of the time, the apostle traveled and preached with fellow Christians.
- Describe how each person helped Paul:
- Acts 9:26-28 and Acts 13:1-3
2 Timothy 4:11
Many people have a hard time receiving unexpected service or gifts. Does that describe you? If so, why?
Read James 5:16. Do you have friends to whom you can confide your failings in order to find healing?
If not, what steps could you take to put yourself in situations that develop deeper relationships?
Would you say your friends “sharpen” you spiritually (Prov. 27:17)?
3. Paul remembered his need for God's grace.
Although the apostle had reasons to boast from a worldly point of view (Phil. 3:4-7), he called himself the chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15).
- How successful did he consider himself in the struggle with sin (Rom. 7:23-24)?
- Do you generally see yourself as more qualified than most believers or as someone desperately in need of grace?
Humility also includes thinking less about our own agenda and more about the needs of others.
- Read Philippians 2:3-8. How could you look out for the interests of others today?
- What is a practical way to consider others more important than yourself (v. 4)?
- According to this passage, how should Christ's example inspire us (vv. 5-8)?
4. Paul stayed focused on his God-given mission.
- What was his mission (Gal. 1:15-16)?
- List a few ways our devotion to Christ could be compared to an athlete's commitment to win a race (1 Cor. 9:24-27).
- What “affairs of life” tend to distract you from following God’s will (2 Tim. 2:3-4)?
Paul wrote, “If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).
- Describe where you are in the effort to please God rather than man.
The Great Commission, to “make disciples of all the nations,” is the mission Jesus gave to all believers (Matt. 28:19).
- In what ways do you participate in sharing this important message, whether in your community, in your nation, or around the world?
- What has the Lord called you to do with your life? What interferes with that mission?
5. Paul sought to know God's will for his life, in both large and small decisions.
Those who want to make an impact for the Lord must not only discover His will; they must also rely on His guidance day by day. Even after Paul discovered his mission, he didn’t take for granted that he knew how to fulfill it. (See Acts 16:6.)
As believers, we should recognize and follow the voice of Jesus as He speaks to our hearts (John 10:27.)
- Have you discovered God’s will regarding your life’s major decisions, such as your career, church, relationships, and ministry?
- If not, in what areas are you still seeking Him?
- Have you been obedient to follow what He has already revealed to you?
- Would you say that it’s common for you to follow the Spirit moment by moment? Explain.
Your impact for Christ will increase dramatically if you walk in daily obedience to God. As you increasingly surrender to the Spirit’s leading, it will become easier to sense His direction.
- How might you remind yourself to listen for God's voice in the little things?
Note: There is no need to wait on a special word from God before making simple decisions, such as choosing what to eat or which shirt to wear. Generally speaking, the Holy Spirit will warn you if you are about to make a mistake.
Prayer: Father, I pray that You would show me how to be an effective witness and role model, so that my life will have a positive impact. Make me more sensitive to Your Spirit, and give me the grace to follow Your will. Amen.
Application Makes All The Difference
Have you ever resolved to get in shape, even purchased the equipment or gym membership, but not seen it through? The same thing can happen in your spiritual development. (Watch Application Makes All The Difference.)