I met a man recently who changed my entire perspective on what it means to make a difference. When I met him, he was slow and gentle. He spoke of his three children and how he was incredibly proud of them. He had a small job full of frustrations that would bother any typical man. But for him, his job was perfect. It had meaning in it, and he loved serving people—no matter how menial the task.
Oftentimes, we can look at these sort of people and think of failed potential. We imagine they could’ve been so much more. But we can overlook that these people chose this life.
Today, we celebrate the extreme life—people who do big, bold stunts and make a visible difference in society. Yet, we ignore the small, meek, every day people who are making a difference in their immediate communities—we just can’t see it so clearly.
I’m learning with each new day that making a difference doesn’t require being a celebrity; it is most certainly the work of the saint—the one who does their work regardless of the attention or cameras.
We think heroes are born in public, but maybe heroism is much more quiet than that.
And maybe we value the loud, extreme heroes so much, that we miss the quiet heroes—those who are moving pieces each day—while we only watch the celebrities do their work in front of the cameras.
There is no shame in living a quite life. In fact, I’m learning that making a difference is something that occurs in the quiet parts of life.
I can’t ignore that Jesus spent three decades of his life living quietly, with no public attention whatsoever. Only a handful of people knew what He was capable of. Instead, Jesus worked in the background. He labored with His hands, made connections with people, and set the groundwork for His ministry to flourish later on in life.
Jesus felt no shame in being quiet for a few years. In fact, it helped His ministry.
If we’re honest, not many of us would choose to do what Jesus did in His twenties. In our twenties, we’re ambitious. Once we get that degree in our hands, we want to set out and make a difference in the world. We chase radical endeavors. We travel, collect stories, post them on social media, and reap the praises. We don’t want to live quiet lives in our twenties—or really, at any time in life.
But I’m learning there are a few benefits to living a quiet life that actually helps us make a difference. Here’s what a quiet life can do for our impact:
1. A quiet life focuses us on the people in front of us.
When we’re living loud, extreme lives, our attention is spread across the masses—how can we love all people across the world. But we neglect that we are placed in our communities for a reason. We should first be seeking to enhance our local community before we move on to making a bigger impact.
A quiet life sees the need to love the people around them, not just the crowds. They know how to be faithful in the small first.
2. A quiet life prevents burnout.
When life is moving fast, we expend our energy faster. We then become paralyzed from doing more.
But the quiet life acknowledges limits. They move slower and only take on what they can. Because of this, they never truly stop working in people’s lives. They give only what they can, and they continue doing it without the burden of burnout working on them.
3. A quiet life gives you time to learn.
One thing I’ve learned is that if you live loudly, you also fail loudly.
By being patient and quiet, you give yourself a time of apprenticeship—where you learn all you need to before setting out. This does not mean you defeat the possibility of failure. You just ensure that you have all the right tools before embarking on the journey. If anything, you possibly make failure less likely in having this time of learning.
I’ve learned to acknowledge the dignity—and even necessity—in living a quiet life. It helps us move in God’s rhythm, not with our rushed pace that tries to control everything. And it is in this rhythm that I know we can make a difference. It’s just a matter of trust, and if I’m willing to quiet my life for Him to work through me.
The stillness does not mean God is absent. Truly, quiet spaces are oftentimes the canvas in which God chooses to paint His masterpiece. This is how there is dignity in the quiet life: as long as God is working, there will always be an echo in eternity.
We just have to be quiet enough to let Him work on our lives in whatever way He pleases.
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