If there is anything that marks my generation of leaders, it’s the desire to be “radical”—to violently overthrow old paradigms. We want to shake up the status quo in the church, in government, in business, in philanthropy. And this is good.
By and large millennial Christians want offer lives in service to God and others by offering new and creative solutions. This is good.
But if I could speak a word of caution, from one rabble-rouser to another, I would say that sometimes the most radical thing you can do with your life is to simply be faithful.
Yes, you heard that right. By consistently doing the same thing every single day you might be more radical than you think. I know that doesn’t sound very sexy, but it’s the stuff that gives weight to significant social movements.
1 Corinthians 4:2 says that God holds his people accountable, not for the big splashy things they’ve done, but for simple faithfulness:
In this regard, it is expected of managers that each one [of them] be found faithful. (1 Corinthians 4:2, HCSB)
So to my fellow young leader, here are three ways your faithfulness just might impact your world:
- Your Personal Peace. Activists rarely like to sit down. There’s always one more report to write, one more blog post, one more conversation, one more educational opportunity. And yet a restless soul is an inefficient soul.Jesus Christ, the only perfect person who ever lived, took time to daily cultivate his inner life. He rested. He prayed. He relaxed. And you are not better than Jesus.
Faithfully cultivating your inner life with God is the most important part of your mission. If you neglect this, you will burn out and your impact will be severely lessened.
The most effective change agents realize their mission is not theirs, but God’s and is fueled by His supernatural power.
- Your Personal Presence. I once heard Chuck Swindoll say, “Leadership has more moments of the mundane than the magnificent.” The dirty secret of success is the ability to just show up. Day after day. Week after week. Year after year.The world is full of people who show spurts of greatness only to yield to laziness or indifference. Talented quitters are a dime a dozen, but people with marginal talent who commit to hard work in the day-to-day grind always stand out as radical.
- Your Pleasant Personality. Determine to be the one guy at the airline ticket counter or the scene of the accident who doesn’t act like a jerk. Sure, we all hears stories of great men and women who fly off the handle and treat their employees like dirt. But those are historical anomalies.Over time, a constant, even attitude of servanthood and humility will attract others to your cause. What’s more, if you can let go of yourself and see your life as just one spoke on God’s great wheel of Providence, you’ll realize the people around you are instruments of His grace. Yes, even the annoying and the incompetent and the rude.
The world is full of diners who snap at waiters, hacked off employees, and belligerent leaders. But a person of winsome, gracious love will, in the end, rise in influence and walk thru doors left shut by those who refuse to control their anger.
So you see how you can change the world? Starting your radical mission by being faithful where you are, to the people in your sphere of influence. It’s a myth that change agents are above the rules. No, if you look closely, they just more consistently apply the simple graces that form a life of deep impact.