The Greatest Possible Impact

August 16, 2022

If you had to choose one strategy to be impactful to others, what would it be? The apostle Paul shares the answer in one of the most beloved chapters in the Bible found in 1 Corinthians 13. 

In chapter 12, however, Paul focuses on the importance of spiritual gifts, sharing, “And yet I will show you the most excellent way,” 1 Corinthians 12:31 (NKJV).

Paul shares that it is okay to desire greater gifts, but reminds us that it is not the most excellent way. Paul gives examples of greater gifts counterposed to his idea.

He says, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal,” 1 Corinthians 13:1.

On July 8, 1741, American theologian Jonathan Edwards preached a powerful message called “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” When Edwards gave this speech, it rocked Europe so much so that it is known in history as the First Great Awakening. It rippled through Europe. People fell on their faces before God. You may think that Edwards had the gift of speaking or that he was a very influential pastor with many connections, and that is why he made a great impact in Europe. Historians tell us that, when Edwards gave this speech, he was in a place of deep love with God and a deep love for the people he spoke to and, when he gave this sermon as a humble man, he literally put his head down and read this manuscript word for word. It wasn’t his ability or connections that created the impact; it was what was inside of him—a love for God and a love for people.

Back to 1 Corinthians, Paul emphasizes that words spoken without a foundation of love have little impact. However, when you have earned the right to speak out of the loyal love you have for another person or a group of people, those words, simple though they may be, can have their most significant impact. Have you heard the phrase, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care?”

Our greatest impact doesn’t come from what we do but comes through who we are. A person can do many things without being a loving person and have little or no impact on people’s lives. But a genuinely loving person can possess none of the big gifts and can radically impact people.

The idea is simple: Having God anchored in your soul will enable you to discover the gifts God deposited in you. Only then can you dispense that love through your gift—whatever it may be, however big it may be, however small it may be—and you will have positioned yourself for the greatest possible impact with your life.

By Elton DeMoraes, D.Min.