How can an insignificant person like me make a change in today's culture?

Dear younger Duncan,

 

Not many know this, not even my closest friends. A couple of years ago when I was appointed to be part of the leadership team in a cell group, I was honestly not very enthusiastic about the appointment. I wasn’t ready to heed such a calling then.

The all familiar thoughts of “why me?” and “someone else would be better for this” flooded my mind. I guess many of us would have had similar thoughts, if we were given an important role or responsibility.  

This self-doubt is exacerbated by this modern society that seems to overemphasize the effect of going against the cultural norm. In the process of doing good, where we are called to embody the change we would like to see, going against what is deemed as normal seems almost taboo, especially with the prevalence of social media.

So again, how do we go against the grain and why should we be a part of that change in today's culture?

It starts with you

Unfortunately, when we are discontented with the situation at hand, we may find ourselves just expressing dissatisfaction with that area of our lives, instead of taking the effort to work towards that change we envision.

However, to quote Gandhi, I would like to encourage you to, “Be that change that you want to see in the world.”.

We live in a society where talk is cheap, and actions speak louder than words. I would like to stress that we cannot expect others to change if we don’t take courage to lead by example, to embody and show others what those changes mean. Hence to expect change, we need to embody that change.

I know it’s hard and I know you may struggle along the way, but even if it just starts with you, be that change. Christianity as we know it started with just Jesus and his twelve disciples, and it eventually grew and is growing to be one of the most popular religions of the world.

The current youth community at Maranatha Seventh-day Adventist Church started off with five of us with a WhatsApp group name of “Something that’s going to happen” to a growing and loving community of 29 Youths today.

But this community only started because someone decided that he cared for these people, even though people were dropping out and leaving church. This caused a ripple effect and eventually created this community.

Change: Start Small and Work upwards

Another piece of advice would be to start small.  Work on the “small” things faithfully and take ownership before starting on the bigger things in life. Using a gaming analogy, a level 1 character cannot be successfully thriving in an environment that has tasks/quests for a level 50 person. That level 1 must undertake quests/tasks that commensurate with one’s ability, before one can build on that and grow to eventually handle harder and more complex tasks.

To re-emphasize this point, Simon Sinek said that “It is not about the intensity, it's all about consistency. It is the daily or consistent practice of all the monotonous things that get you to your goals.”

Years ago, we formed and continue to maintain this community at Maranatha Seventh Day Adventist Church, which is sustained not just by the intensity of our initial bonds, but also by the fact that we began to consistently and faithfully do the small things that mattered for the group. These things could be as simple as checking up on each other every week, planning the next dinner spot for the group, planning a catchup session, or even movie nights.

To quote a very wise woman: “Focus on the things that you can do, things that are within your control.  For everything else, pray about it, and let God show his power in your weakness.”

If you are feeling overwhelmed and struggling to go against worldly norms and against the grain, to take things one at a time. Regardless of how or what you may be going through at this point, even if it’s self-hatred, being overwhelmed or weariness, remember that we aren’t built to be superhumans, who can work miracles and “save the world”. We all have our strengths and limitations as human beings.

With this perspective, we must recalibrate our perception towards the process of change, not as a giant leap forward but as a series of well-executed small steps. Plans or ideas that involve you as the agent of change, should be broken down into segments that you can do and which you cannot execute.  I’m sure with this method, many will avoid the all too familiar feelings of being submerged and burned out.  

While it may seem like a simple thing to say but hard to apply, I urge you to try to think small as you dream big.

Final Words

Before doing anything search your heart for what is true and what is right, and focus on what you can do, what you want to do, and what you can’t do. Change isn’t something that happens overnight; nor does it happen by itself. It may take months or years before the fruits of your labour are manifested.

We can and we will make this change when we care about the things or problems around us. I honestly don’t have an answer as to when or where this change will begin to have an impact beyond our areas of influence. But I do know that every effort and drop of sweat that you contribute to doing good in today's culture, will not be in vain.

 

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Note from the author: Hey Everyone, I honestly hate self-introductions but I hope this article about my experience encourages other like-minded individuals struggling to find themselves.  I want to encourage everyone, especially the young aspiring leaders, to press on despite all the potential hurdles and challenges that you may face along the way.

Special thanks to the people who shaped this article from its conception along with the inspired readings from Fireseeds and On Earth as it is in Heaven.