Audacious: Asking How to Change the World
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Wandering through a bookshop, several months ago, the title of a book caught my eye, Writing to Change the World, by Mary Pipher. That’s a bold title, I thought. I felt compelled to buy it. Over the time I was reading the book I found myself doing something that felt a little crazy. When visitors came into my home, if that book (with its bold title) was sitting in plain view, I would quickly turn it over or hide it.
It felt audacious; to even read a book like that.
Writing to Change the World may be a bold title, but the author, Mary Pipher, had previously written a book called, Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, a book that influenced how I’ve parented my own daughter. It was a#1 New York Times Bestseller, so it seems the book’s influence has extended far and wide. My respect for the author was high enough that I was willing to give Writing to Change the World a serious look.
It was a great book, which broke the writing process down in a helpful manner and inspired me- but the purpose of this post isn’t to review a book. Instead, I want to talk about taking risks. After awhile, I started to appreciate that audacious title, Writing To Change the World. Why not? Why shouldn’t a person set the bar as high as possible when setting goals? That question was suddenly presenting itself to me in multiple ways.
I saw some of my writer friends asking, why not? Several of them recently submitted their writing to a big name publication…and they were accepted! Their courage was contagious.
Why not? I pondered the question of whether or not to apply. I wanted to attend a conference that I read about on Facebook. It was called Gates Social. I have a high regard for the work that Gates Foundation is doing around the world and I wanted the chance to learn more about what they were doing. The deadline for the application was due on the same day I was reading about it- so it was now or never. Maybe I was already too late? I didn’t have long to think about it. It felt too bold but I applied anyway. To my delighted surprise, I received an invite!
I went to the conference and listened to the speakers. These were people who were making a positive difference in the world, heroic people. These people have tremendous financial resources at their disposal. They have brilliant minds and powerful partnerships. But still, they’re just people. I heard someone talking about the effort to eliminate the poliovirus from the world. Another person spoke of the Foundation’s goal to help eradicate malaria.
As I listened to these people talking about what they do, I realized that though their goals may be audacious, they weren’t out of reach. Did you know that we’re already very close to living in a world without polio? That didn’t happen on accident. It was through a concerted effort, by thousands of caring people, that this is the case. Polio cases have decreased 99% since 1988. @@Effective change agents are more than emotional dreamers.@@ Yes, they all have a passion for what they were doing, but that passion is harnessed in a way that sets them up for success. Here are some common themes that I heard mentioned throughout the conference:
- They had taken what might seemed impossible and they had methodically gathered the facts they needed to study the problem until they understood it.
- They broke the problems down into bite-sized components.
- They formed partnerships.
- They balanced a sense of urgency with a need to build capabilities.
- They focused on asking effective questions and they were willing to change course when the answers showed it was necessary.
Writing to Change the World, by Mary Pipher, is a book that served to spark some needed courage in my life. I was willing to listen to what the author said because I respected her. That spark became a small flame as I observed the bravery of friends in my writing community. Attending the Gates Social was like putting a fan to that flame. The theme of the conference was titled, Taking Risks. Repeatedly, over the last couple of days, I’ve heard from respected people, who have the audacity to ask: Why not?
As a follower of Christ, I have another book, the Bible, which asks me to do some pretty audacious things. Love my neighbor as myself, (Mark 12:30-31) overcome evil with good (Romans 12:17-21) and put my trust in someone I cannot see, (1 Peter 1:8) are a few examples. This message of this book has already changed the world for good…and it will continue to do so. The author of the Bible is worthy of the absolute highest level of my respect and my love. Through the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit, not only can I read the words in this book to find the way to a relationship with God, through Jesus his son, but I can also learn how to join him, on his mission.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:17
When we follow Christ, not only does God place that passion inside us, to be on mission with him, but he also gives us instructions, in his Word, on how to do that. Most importantly, he has not left us alone to do this. He sends the Holy Spirit to us. @@Prayer is a powerful way to access the power that's available to us.@@
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8
Be daring enough to ask how you can change the world. Be audacious.