As I approached a busy season in life a wise man told me that I needed to cultivate the kind of soil God could use to work on my soul. It was his opinion that strong external living only comes from a place of internal fortitude and cultivation.
Over the past few years I’ve been involved in a lot of public ministry. Ministry where my name and my face are in front of a lot of people, and any success I’ve had in those opportunities is due to the inner transformation God did over the course of many years.
I know you and I both desire to make an impact with our lives. We want to make a difference for other people. We don’t want to waste this life we’ve been gifted.
So we focus all our attention on things we can do, and then become frustrated when our work-level continues to ramp up, while our level of impact is often diminishing.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone if this is exactly where you are at.
What we often lose sight of is that authentic external influence can only flow out of inner transformation. Now you want to ask me, “You mean I have to some other kind of work before my actual work will make a difference?” Well, yes. But if your work toward inner transformation is truly impactful it will change the way you live, making your external actions a natural outflow instead of a forced activity.
Of course, inner transformation isn’t something you can buy at the grocery store. And for most of us, we fight against the restraints that hold us back from inner transformation. Our desire for transformation can’t overcome the monsters in our closet that teach us we’ll never change.
If you want to make an impact, first change yourself. Here’s four restraints holding you back from inner transformation:
#1: Unknown Identity
“You are not defined by what you do. You are defined by who you are. You are a son of the King.”
If you don’t know who you are you will constantly aim to prove yourself as someone else. Right identity is a foundation for god-inspired living.
#2: Life is a Battlefield
And you have to fight to win.
This is a mindset I struggle with mightily. I’m extremely competitive. I take non-competitive things such as conversations over coffee, and I make them competitive. I probably should have become a sports analyst so I could be competitive and get paid for it, but I’ve been slowly learning that life is more about care for others than it is about #winning.
#3: Functional Atheism
Functional atheism operates with this kind of mindset: “It all comes down to me.” In this kind of worldview, there is no god.
Impact goes up as you give up control, allowing God to not only work in your own life, but also your circumstances.
#4: Denial of Death
I’ve written extensively the past six months about our general denial of physical death. What I’m getting at here is more emotionally focused. Not only do we deny the reality of death (and then we act as if the dead never lived), but we also treat dying circumstances in our lives as untouchable.
Not everything is meant to last forever (no, I’m not talking about the culture’s accepted view on marriage). Your business venture, your small group, your yearly vacation to the beach—none of it has to last forever.
Sometimes you need to quit something so you can start doing what you’re supposed to be doing.
Just like in a forest, death provides opportunity for new life.
What restraints have held you back from inner transformation?
(HT: Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak)