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Do you believe one person can make a difference?
Don’t just say yes – really take a moment and think about it.
Do you truly believe that just one person can make a difference in their world?
One of my favorite articles talks about making a difference. The article is the text of the commencement address by Naval Admiral William H. McRaven to the University of Texas at Austin Class of 2014. I have referenced this article before, and I’ll tell you, it’s one that I re-read several times each year.
Because I want to believe I’m making a difference.
In his commencement address, Admiral McRaven tells the almost 8,000 graduates that –
“…if every one of you changed the lives of just ten people—and each one of those folks changed the lives of another ten people—just ten—then in five generations—125 years—the class of 2014 will have changed the lives of 800 million people.
800 million people—think of it—over twice the population of the United States. Go one more generation and you can change the entire population of the world—8 billion people.
If you think it’s hard to change the lives of ten people—change their lives forever—you’re wrong.
I saw it happen every day in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A young Army officer makes a decision to go left instead of right down a road in Baghdad and the ten soldiers in his squad are saved from close-in ambush.
In Kandahar province, Afghanistan, a non-commissioned officer from the Female Engagement Team senses something isn’t right and directs the infantry platoon away from a 500 pound IED, saving the lives of a dozen soldiers.
But, if you think about it, not only were these soldiers saved by the decisions of one person, but their children yet unborn—were also saved. And their children’s children—were saved.
Generations were saved by one decision—by one person.
But changing the world can happen anywhere and anyone can do it.
Individually, we aren’t going to impact 800 million lives. But we may never fully know how our choices will impact generations to come, even eternity.
My husband and I were talking about this exact thing recently.
That right there – that sentence – is one way that my decisions are changing a life.
My marriage has been through pretty much the very worst that could happen. For a long time, I did not know what to do. God kept speaking, reminding me of redemption. My choice to stay has impacted my family forever.
My choice to stay has impacted my life, the lives of the 4 others in this house, and our extended family. If we follow the Admiral’s speech, I can tell you that my choice has impacted more than 10 people.
Back to the conversation my husband and I had, because we discussed another way we’re impacting people who are impacting people.
Our oldest son is 16, almost 17 years old. We both chuckled last night as we agreed that he’s “an old soul”. He is not your typical 16 year old. He graduated high school last June, just after his 16th birthday. He worked hard, had almost all A’s (just one B in high school) and he discussed his plans with us.
He is a pianist. He attends a local university where he is a Piano Performance Major. He attends classes, he does his homework, and then he practices piano. He practices some at school, and some at home. On days when his schedule is very full, he tries to get in at least 4 hours of piano. So he’s certainly not just sitting down to practice a piece once, and then walking away. He’s got an astounding work ethic.
Our choice to help him pursue his dreams is impacting those around him. He’s tackled a piece that is very recognizable to most of us (you may know the tune to Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody even if you don’t know the name). The problem is that while we all probably know the tune, apparently what we know varies greatly from what Liszt actually wrote. So our son has gone back to the foundations of the piece – playing what the composer actually wrote.
His reward? Well, one of his professors said that yes, the tune is very recognizable, and it’s a large, grandiose piece. But, he also said that he finds it very refreshing to hear the piece as it was written, rather than in some variation that is available today, and he’s impressed with our guy’s work on it. Our son’s own Piano professor has said something similar, but just yesterday, after a makeup lesson, he said that the piece is ready to be performed. He said that the piece needs to be out for public consumption and that people need to start talking about it.
Our son’s hard work is impacting the people he interacts with, and in turn, they are heaping encouragement upon him – what a reward for his day-to-day hard work and effort!
But how about us, those of us struggling in our marriages?
Well, first of all, please know that I’m not promising that fighting for your marriage is going to bring your spouse back, though I sincerely hope it does!
What I am saying, though, is that the process of fighting for your marriage, or even wrestling with God to determine His will for your life, is going to impact someone. It’s going to impact you.
And it’s going to make a difference in the lives of the people in your inner circle.
No one comes away from this kind of battle unchanged.
But that’s just it: no one – no one – comes away from this kind of battle unchanged. They stand with us, they watch our choices and actions, and then they have an opportunity to go bless and impact more people, and they carry our story with them. Perhaps, ultimately, our story doesn’t end in the redemption of our marriage, though we pray it does. But it ends with God’s faithfulness to us, His leading us through the storm, and His perfect plan for us, despite how others may fail us.
These choices are part of the legacy we leave – for our children, our family, our friends, our co-workers, our acquaintances.
I want to leave a good and godly legacy, don’t you?
My friend, Leah, has re-released one of her Bible studies after a massive redesign. Not only is the book beautiful, it’s full of great lessons on leaving a godly legacy. These are truths that we can apply to our lives as Christians, but even more – as women who are drawing a line in the sand and letting God know that we stand with Him. What an awesome legacy to be able to pass on!
I’d encourage you to take a look at her Bible study.
“When all is said and done, the legacy you leave for those who come after you will be a result of the choices you make each day…choices regarding your faith, character, and holiness.” -Leah C. Adams, author
Please check out Legacy – I think you’ll find it’s a great encouragement for this journey! Click here: Legacy – or click the image below.
Can one person really make a difference?
The answer is simple – the answer is yes!
Just consider a few examples from the Bible:
Elijah, taking on the prophets of Baal (I Kings 18)
Naomi, allowing Ruth to go with her after the loss of Naomi’s sons and husband (Ruth 1)
Mary, carrying the baby who would save the world (Luke 1:26-38)
Paul, who endured so much and penned the words we’re familiar with in Philippians 3:14.
Jesus, sent from heaven, fully God yet fully man, enduring death on the cross for our sins.
Friend, one person can make a difference. Yes, these are big examples, but there is no reason our faith cannot be as big as that of Elijah, Naomi, Mary, Paul and countless others in the Bible.
Consider your situation and look ahead to the legacy that you can leave, because your life truly does make a difference!
Sharing at Grace & Truth