Making an IMPACT?
We all probably want to live impactful lives - lives with meaning and purpose. In the most literal sense, impact could be thought of as the result of an action - that of making contact with another object. I think this may be what we hope for in our daily walk - that our lives would make some type of impact - there would be some positive result of the actions we take. What makes a life one which has an impact on others? I think it may be that the life is lived with integrity, manifested mercy, perseverance under pressures, a high level of accountability for one's own actions, compassion for those in need, and temperance in one's dealing with others.
...let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 CEB)
Integrity: Living with integrity involves all of the character traits I listed above, but people with integrity become highly trusted companions in this life because they can be counted on to be consistent. There is congruence between the principles they propose as important in their lives and the actions they manifest as a result of those believed principles. In other words, they aren't focused on others always seeing their "best side", but knowing they are human, struggling with the same things the other guy or gal is struggling with, and yet leaning heavily upon the mercy and grace of God to live in a way which points others toward this same grace and mercy. A life of integrity isn't one which is perfect, but is one which is honest, straightforward, and not lived in the "shadows".
Merciful: Honest lives learn what it means to be merciful because they have learned how much they themselves need to rely upon the mercy of God in their own lives. What we receive so graciously from God is to become a hallmark in our own lives for those who observe out own actions toward others. God never tells his children to hoard mercy and grace - instead he points us toward manifesting it in a consistently generous manner in circumstances where it is least deserved and often not sought.
Perseverance: Most of us think of the perseverance a person manifests as part of their "stubbornness" - they are continuing to move in the direction they are moving because they are just stubborn enough to not give up. In contrast, a believer is asked to lay down their stubbornness and in place of stubbornness pick up perseverance. This differs from moxie because it isn't reliant upon what WE can do, but upon what God is doing IN us. There is a steadfastness in spite of obstacles. Yes, there are still obstacles, but from somewhere deep within, there is a trust in the one who helps us maneuver around, or actually remove those obstacles from our path so we have safe passage. WE don't DO everything on our own anymore, but lean into the wisdom and truth God reveals in our lives and then use it to overcome those hurdles.
Accountability: Accountability is really a result of the actions of God's Spirit within our lives. We become "answerable" for our actions - not because we are trying to be "super-spiritual" or because we want to portray some "goody-two-shoes" kind of lifestyle. It is because we know the only way out of wrong actions is by owning up to those actions and then allowing God's Spirit to guide us into the right ones. We don't like being accountable until we see the advantage of accountability - true freedom from those things which plague us daily and trip us up every time temptation comes our way. As soon as we begin to become "answerable" for our decisions, we realize something dynamic taking place - we begin to recognize where we went wrong. This is something we truthfully see without a high degree of accountability - for accountable people want to understand the source of their missteps in order to avoid them in the future. God is excited when he encounters this type of willingness to yield to the leading of the Spirit in our lives and he honors that willingness.
Compassion: Believers should be some of the most compassionate people in the world. Why? I think it is closely related to the mercy we have been shown. Mercy is getting what we don't deserve. Compassion is extending grace (mercy) where it is not always sought, nor is it always deserved. Compassion is revealed in the tenderness we exhibit toward those who get on our last nerve, give us a ration of trouble, or intend harm for our lives when all we are doing is trying to live uprightly. It is more than just turning the other cheek - it is living in such a way the other guy doesn't stand a chance! Mercy might not be understood 100% of the time, but when the other guy runs headlong into mercy, it leaves an impact - they just don't stand a chance!
Temperance: Temperate lives are simply lives lived with control. Not under control, but with control. There is a difference. To be under control means we are kind of like a pressure cooker - we keep all the steam built up, but it is still there and given the right circumstances, we could actually blow! Living with control means we release before the pressure builds - this is why mercy and compassion are such a big part of our lives. I have to work on this one kind of frequently in my own life because I am a little bit of an "under control" kind of gal and need to be more attentive to letting go of things which don't really matter in the scheme of things. Mercy and grace go hand-in-hand with temperance. When we can learn to extend grace, we let go. When we are compassionate toward others, we seek to understand their position, not just our own. These are characteristics of the temperate life - living with control - not so as to control another, but to be an example of the mercy and grace of God to those around us.
Want to make an IMPACT today? It isn't too late! Just sayin!