For years I have found myself engaged in a tug-of-war; in recent weeks my sensitivity to this struggle has dramatically increased. On one side I find the pursuit of good -the desire to do good, make a difference, leave a mark in the world. On the other side I find priorities -the pull of my face-to-face audience: my children, my wife, my much smaller sphere of influence.
We have all been encouraged to “think big”. We have all been challenged to follow our dreams and to make the world a better place. This inevitably leads us to ask, “How can we accomplish this task without sacrificing those who are closest to us?” I have been asking myself what I must sacrifice to change the world. I often sacrifice the relationships closest to me to make a “bigger” difference. I pursue good ventures at the expense of priorities.
We have often heard our lives compared to a stone thrown into the water and the ripple effect being the difference we make in the world. If you have ever thrown a stone in the water, you know the ripples begin closest to the stone and make their way out. This reminds me that the greatest way to change the world is not to sacrifice those closest to me but to invest in them.
In Hebrews 11:7 Noah’s faith is commended, not for saving the world but for saving his family. We find this pattern true in the ministry of Jesus as well. Jesus ministered to thousands of people, but he never did so at the expense of those closest to him. He invested in the 12 apostles and that investment has impacted the world for 2000 years and counting.
The questions I want to leave with you are these -What are you pursuing? Are you attempting to make a difference in the world while bypassing those closest to you?
I want to encourage you to take the opportunities God gives you to have a greater and broader impact. However, if it requires the sacrifice of those closest to you, you might want to ask the Lord if this opportunity has come from him or if it is a selfish ambition on your part. Because, the ripple effect always moves from the inside out.