The Problems with Your Desire to Be a World Changer

photo by Denys Nevozhai in

It seems like everywhere you look, you encounter a challenge to “change the world.” Motivational speakers urge you to change the world. Advertisements insist that their products will help you change the world. Many of the heroes we hold in high regard have been world changers like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mother Teresa.

Whether you realize it or not, your heart has the world changing message scribbled all over it, especially if you fall into the millennial generation. “You can be a world changer. You should be a world changer. You should do something really big that influences a whole lot of people and makes the world a better place.”

I believe that every person has an innate desire to change the world — and to be remembered for it.

But this constant message of “Be a World Changer” has both benefits and drawbacks.

This message to change the world is an excellent motivator. It gets people excited and energized. You find a sense of joy and fulfillment as you identify how you are going to change the world.

But I’ve also identified 3 problems that come from the message of being a world changer.

1. It creates unrealistic expectations

In a culture inundated with the message of “be a world changer,” society begins to think that every person should do something so epic that it is recorded in history books for the rest of time.

But let’s think about this realistically. Out of all humans who have existed since the beginning of time, how many of them are in history books?

And how many of them set out on a quest to be in history books? Most of the history-making world changers had a vision of making their world, the community around them, a better place — not of being known for changing the world.

If your goal is to make history, you set yourself up with a pass/fail criteria. Anything less than making history will be considered failure (at least by you).

2. It devalues small acts of faithfulness

Jesus (who was a world changer) valued small acts of faithfulness.

Jesus told his followers that small acts of faithfulness done for the benefit of others was a gift to Jesus Himself: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt 25:31–40).

Jesus, in that same chapter, tells a parable of three men who are entrusted with small amounts of money. The ones who were faithful with those small amounts were given more. The parable is not meant to apply to money alone. Jesus said, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matt. 25:14–21).

The message of being a world changer requires that you do something big. The unintended consequence of that message can devalue small acts of faithfulness.

But small acts of faithfulness have been used by God throughout history — without any knowledge that they would change history. None of the heroes of the Bible knew that their small acts of faithfulness would continue to influence Christians today.

David didn’t say, “these 5 stones that I pick up to slay Goliath will change the course of history.”

Paul didn’t say, “I’m going to take these mission trips so that generations behind me will be inspired to do the same.”

The people who had the most profound influence in your life probably don’t consider themselves world changers. Yet they changed the world by changing your life. In high school, my Spanish teacher and my Principal at Asheville Christian Academy both encouraged me in my walk with Christ and in my leadership development. They had no idea how deeply their acts of faithfulness influenced the rest of my life.

Small acts of faithfulness can influence individuals, teams, families, neighborhoods, and organizations for all eternity. But you won’t know that your small acts of faithfulness are going to do this.

Learn to value little acts of faithfulness and little acts of changing the world — one person at a time. One small act at a time.

3. It emphasizes Being over Becoming

A biblical paradox occurs when Scripture simultaneously affirms two truths that seem contradictory. Hebrews 10:9 does this when it says, “For by one sacrifice [Jesus] has perfected for all time those who are being made holy.

This paradoxical passage affirms both being and becoming.

Being — You are “perfected for all time.”
Becoming — But you are becoming holy.

Both being and becoming are important for Jesus’ followers. (See also 2 Pet. 1:3–5). But the message of being a world changer emphasizes being while ignoring becoming. This can have a detrimental effect on your personal growth.

In Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, she defines a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset. Those with a fixed mindset concentrate on a fixed view of their being:

I am smart. Or I am not smart.
I am good at math. Or I am not good at math.
I am a good athlete. Or I am not a good athlete.

Because they have a fixed mindset, they do not believe that they can change the activities in which they do not excel. They also have a much harder time accepting failure and are less willing to try something new or challenging.

Those with a growth mindset believe that they can become better at something. They are more likely to attempt new challenges and are more willing to fail while trying in order to learn.

I am not smart. But I can learn something new today.
I am not good at math. But I can become better if I get help.
I am not a good athlete. But I can growth in my athletic abilities.

The message “You are a world changer” has a fixed mindset. It emphasizes a state of Being rather than Becoming. It unintentionally gives the message, “You are a world changer so you’d better figure out how to live up to that.”

Rather, you should emphasize that your small acts of faithfulness, your attempts at new challenges, and your willingness to learn from success and failure can help you change the world.

Five Mindshifts

The pressure to be a world changer can be exhausting. These 5 mindshifts will be helpful:

  1. Seek God in what he has called you to do. Then strive to be faithful to his calling.
  2. Continually acknowledge that your identity is found in Jesus Christ, not in your ability to change the world.
  3. Continually express satisfaction in God and gratitude to God for any small way that He works in and through you.
  4. If you have a big dream, break it down into small, incremental changes.
  5. Embrace the journey of faithfulness over the destination of world-changing.

God may indeed call you to change the world. But he has definitely called you to Him. And to faithfulness to whatever tasks He has assigned to you. Embrace faithfulness.

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Questions: Have you ever felt pressure to be a world changer? What effect has that had on you?