Do you want to make a difference in other people’s lives? Since I was in high school I had a dream to become a psychologist and help people who were hurting. But even after becoming a school psychologist and helping a lot of families learn valuable information, I still felt I didn’t know how to effectively help people and make a lasting impact in their lives. One of the greatest things to me about becoming a Christian was that I learned with the help of the Bible and many friends how to go deeper and experience real change in my own heart, and as a result I learned to help other people through giving them the same things I had been taught. I learned how to connect with my own heart and to have compassion for others.

Personally, I think everyone has a dream inside of doing something meaningful and successful with their lives. Many times this dream includes helping others in some way. One of the things I’ve learned is that a difference-maker is someone who genuinely connects with and cares for other people.

So how do you become a difference-maker? Let’s look at 3 decisions that will help us connect and care for people in order to make a real impact on the world around us.

Live Authentically

3 “You look at the bit of sawdust in your friend’s eye. But you pay no attention to the piece of wood in your own eye. 4 How can you say to your friend, ‘Let me take the bit of sawdust out of your eye’? How can you say this while there is a piece of wood in your own eye? 5 You pretender! First take the piece of wood out of your own eye. Then you will be able to see clearly to take the bit of sawdust out of your friend’s eye.

Matthew 7:3-5 (NIRV)

One of the biggest pitfalls to helping other people is criticalness. It can be easy to point out other people’s faults, but not look at our own. As this Scripture says, we need to first deal with our own heart before we can help someone else.

I’ve worked with teenagers for a number of years as a mentor, and it’s easy for me to give them advice and tell them what to do. But sometimes I get stuck and I can’t figure out how to motivate them.  Every time I feel this way, it always means I need to grow or change that same area of my life.

If we don’t deal with our own hearts and constantly work to grow and change personally, we will just be pretending to be someone that we really aren’t. Hypocrisy like that keeps us and others from growing.

Read Matthew 23 and Philippians 2:1-11 and compare the impact of a life of hypocrisy versus a life of humility. Which one do you think describes you more? What is a practical decision you could make based on Philippians 2 in order to live a life of greater impact?

Live Openly

11 Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you. 12 There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us. 13 I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!

2 Corinthians 6:11-13 (NLT)

One of the best ways to help other people is telling them about our own weaknesses and struggles. I hate talking about my fears and insecurities, but every time I open up about these things, people always feel closer to me. I become more relatable to them and they feel needed in the relationship because they see that I have weaknesses. They also feel more willing to tell me what’s going on with them, because they know I can relate.

Do people know what’s going on in your life – the challenges, the sin, the feelings, and the desires? Make a decision to share one vulnerable thing with someone every day. You’ll see your ability to make an impact increase drastically.

Live Generously

26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Matthew 20:26-28 (NLT)

Helping others is not about looking good, it’s about being willing to serve others. Serving is not glamorous; often we want to be recognized and applauded for the ways we help others but being willing to serve means you do what’s best for others even when no one notices.

Serving can mean a lot of different things -from just saying encouraging words, by doing things together with someone, by giving gifts, and so on. Think of a person or a community you want to help – what would make them feel loved, considered or cared about?
I love having quality time with my husband, this makes me feel loved. However, he feels loved when I say encouraging things about him. I can think spending a lot of time with my husband will show that I love him. However, I’ve had to learn that saying one encouraging word can mean more to him than spending the whole day together. As a practical, at your job or school look for ways to serve someone today. Don’t try to be noticed, just do something encouraging or kind for someone else.

Loving others is not about a feeling but being willing to work on our own hearts and find out what makes others feel loved. If we want to make a difference in people’s lives, we need to make regular decisions to live authentically, live openly, and live generously.

To learn more about making a difference, be sure to check out our upcoming campus retreat Bold: Be the Difference.

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Cristina Henderson

Cristina Henderson

Cristina has a background in psychology and works with youth in the Oakland/Alameda region of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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