The Problem with the Idea of World Changers
All in all the concepts behind being a “world changer” is not a bad aspiration to have in life. However, despite my Alma Matter’s desire to graduate all students as “world changers” this aspiration might be at best unrealistic, and at worst, completely misleading and disappointing. Perhaps the true argument is one of semantics, but I do not think this is entirely the case. I think at the core of it all is a misinterpretation of the Bible mixed with perhaps a little ignorance. The Bible never mentions once that Christ’s followers are going to be “world changers.” Jesus never said that, and he never would have. The Bible does say that we are the salt and light of the world. But what do you think about when you hear the words “world changer?” What exactly is a world changer and how does someone become one. It might at first seem easy to say that the invention of the internet changed the world. But did it really? Or did it simply change a large portion of the developed world? What about the places in the world that have never seen or heard about electricity? As a matter of fact, there are people who live about 45 minutes away from me that are nearly completely removed from the internet. By this same logic, Jesus himself was not even a world changer because there are people who have not yet heard about him at all. However, I do think that thinking this way is a bit unfair and the concept of a “world changer” is to be taken more as a metaphor. . . at least I hope so.
I believe that the idea of world changers is something colleges are trying to portray as a person who is making a difference and changing the world they are living in.
Not necessarily the entire planet, but the pieces of the world that they are coming into contact with. This definition seems to fit a bit better with something that someone could actually achieve. In reality, this makes more sense with the rest of the mission statement presented from Indiana Wesleyan University. They are developing students in character, scholarship, and leadership in order to “change the world.” This is still a bit loose since they are using the word world, but again, this is in my opinion semantics because you would have to be crazy to believe that a person could actually impact every part of the world (except arguably greenhouse gasses, I suppose if you mess up the entire ozone and atmosphere of the world then yea, you changed it all right). At least by saying that a world changer is someone who is changing their world some kind of an agreement can be made with the extreme critics to the entire world-changing concept.
However, there is an entirely different issue that I have discovered with phrases like world changers, and the book “Do Hard Things” that I talked about in my last post. They tend to give people an unrealistic expectation of the life they should be living. The entire operation works on the grounds that every single individual is destined for greatness. That every person is going to do something amazing with their live and create some kind of big movement or make a big difference in the world — regardless of whether or not it is the entire world or simply “their world.” I wish that this was simply me reading too much into the matter, but I do not think this is the case. In the book there is a chapter dedicated to “doing small hard things.” When I started the chapter I thought it was going to move in the direction of telling people that they might not ever do something huge, but this does not mean that their life is any less important than a political leader. But no. Instead, the “small hard things,” which consisted of things like taking the garbage out and doing dishes and obeying your parents, were simply stepping-stones for more important hard things. Newsflash: Doing the dishes and taking out the trash are “small hard things” that you have to do for the rest of your life (unless you hire a maid or make your spouse/kids do it all the time — good luck with that). The book, like the concept of a world changer, essentially made the claim that the small daily tasks in our lives will prepare us to do something spectacular in the future. But what happens if we never do something spectacular?
Here is the problem. The majority of people are never going to do something tremendous. Say that again? Most people are not going to do some huge feat that makes them known for the rest of time. Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble but this is the truth. If everyone who ever lived did something amazing, amazing things would cease to be amazing and would instead be the norm. Lots of people are going to be normal, average, everyday people who never do anything to bring recognition to their name. But so what? Why is this such a bad thing and when did this become a problem. First of all, these concepts that I have mentioned belong to the Christian circle. The Christian circle whose Bible specifically says things like “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Matt 6:3), and “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). Eating and drinking are normal people things, and yet this is something to be done for the glory of God. Despite apparent popular belief, it is okay, and completely normal to be a normal person who never does anything great with their life (Key: or at least anything great by human standards and the standards that go along with things like “world changers” and “do hard things”). Ouch.
This does not mean that people are not going to do good things with their life and have a good life. It simply means that they may never achieve the ranks of Bill Gates, Tim Tebow, or Mother Theresa. I believe that this is a biblically accurate assumption. Think about it, there are tons of people in the Bible that are completely normal people. At least half of the twelve disciples are never mentioned beyond being a part of the twelve. These are the normal everyday pastors that lead their church to the best of their ability. They are not the Joel Osteens, the Rick Warrens, or the John Pipers. They are the Pastor Toms, Reverend Bills, and Father Bobs. Good people, doing a good job, but for the most part, not recognized by most people. They are however, doing what God has asked them to do in their circumstances and callings. The twelve disciples were hand-picked by Jesus himself, and yet most of them do nothing important enough to be mentioned in the Bible. Normal people. Even Jesus’ “father” on earth (Joseph) was nobody special. He was a carpenter. Normal grunt laboring job. Yet despite helping to raise baby Jesus, his name is nowhere to be found after the manger scene (or perhaps the temple scene in Luke, and even at that Mary is the one who tries to reprimand Jesus).
There are plenty of examples of people in the Bible who God recognized as being more or less good, but at the same time never did anything great. The entire tribe of Israel was chosen by God, but not everyone could be Moses and Aaron. Even Moses’ wife is a hardly mentioned nobody. Even if Moses was a world changer, none of the people that he was leading were on his level (except maybe Joshua).
So what does this mean? Well, I would definitely like to clarify that this does not excuse us from trying to do great things. God uses nobody’s to do great things. He is kind of in that kind of business (Moses had a stutter, Gideon was a chicken, David was an adulterous murderer). We can still have great aspirations and a desire to make a difference in the world. However, we cannot be dissatisfied with a normal life if that is what we are given. Also, this does not exclude us from trying to make a big impact in the world around us and with the people around us. Furthermore, we may never know that we had a great impact on someone. Perhaps our greatest achievement is going to be building someone else us to be a “world changer.” We are not the one making a difference, but we made it possible for someone else to make the difference. We should support good causes and things like that. It is possible that we can do important things that are not world-changing.
I also believe that God has called us all to live life, and live it to the full.
This means that there is no room for laziness no matter what circumstance life has put us in. If God has made us to be a janitor, then we should be the best janitor that we can be. If God has called us to be the pastor or a mega church, then we should lead the people to the very best of our ability. Each person’s life is important to the will of God. In the twelfth chapter of the book 1 Corinthians Paul talks about how we are all part of the body, but we make up different parts. He mentions that God has placed some people in one role with certain gifts and other people in other roles. I think that this chapter does a great job at portraying what I am getting at so read that if you want more information.
On the other hand, I think that dreams are good. We should all have some kind of image of what we would like to be in five years, ten years, and so on. It is good to be working towards something. We should constantly seek to better ourselves. Likewise, we can even have dreams of changing the world. However, we need to be willing to humble ourselves and really look at what God has in store for us. Perhaps one day we will be a great name that people praise for many years to come for our great deeds on earth. But maybe we won’t and our deeds will be recognized by none other than God when he says “well done good and faithful servant.”
I suppose the ultimate point that I am trying to make here is that we should not judge other people. Just because someone plans to be a lowly janitor their entire life does not make their life any less important. Maybe they love knowing that they are making other people’s lives more sanitary. They are not changing the world, and no one even knows who they are. Their contribution to society is very real and we all appreciate a clean bathroom, but we never really think about the person who cleaned it. Some people are destined to be normal everyday people. Perhaps they do not want to be recognized by everyone. Is it possible that God can give someone a passion in being an average person? To simply do the small tasks in life? I think he can, and I think he does. Not everyone has the fiery passion burning inside of themselves to be a great leader and “do huge hard things.” It is okay to be normal, if we are content in what we are doing and we are abiding by the will of God. Now, if we are pulling a Jonah and avoiding the great things that God wants us to do, that is an entirely different story. If that is the case, then get out there and follow what God is trying to get you to do! God needs heroes of the faith as well as janitors of the faith. Knowing the difference and being content is what matters. Not trying to say that everyone is a world changer and that everyone needs to view their current situation as a stepping stone to something more important.
What do you think? Is it okay for someone to be content without desiring to be a world changer? Or should all of God’s people seek to make some kind of heroic difference with their lives on earth? (By heroic I mean being recognized, it is entirely possible to be a “hero” when we pray with a child, or feed a hungry person, or take someone out to coffee who cannot afford it. But this is a normal hero impacting the world around them, not a hero in the sense like Moses or Rick Warren).