Hungry children in Africa. A car bombing in the Middle East. Racial division in America.
Scrolling through the newspaper headlines each day can feel suffocating. And these are just the headlines. Delving deeper into the content of what makes it into the news all around the world can leave me feeling helpless and negative, unwilling to do anything about the pain I see. As millennials, we have a deluge of information at our fingertips. But what do you do when you feel bombarded by information and want to withdraw those bruised fingertips from the world?
Sometimes it’s easier to become apathetic and ignore the news and retreat to a safer place—to control my little world through filtered photos and selfies narrowly focused on aspects of my face, bucket list and what I can get from life. And while there is a grain of truth to this scenario of choosing to focus on the positive, sheltering myself from what’s going on in the larger world has its own drawbacks, like an unhealthy self-absorption and missing out on what God wants to do through your life and in the world.
What can we do to make the world a better place and address the issues in society in a reasonable way? Here are five suggestions for what you can do to reject apathy and engage with the world.
1. Ask God
I know this can sound cliché, but I truly believe prayer is the best place to start. It not only engages our own heart, but it taps into God’s heart of wisdom for the situation and people involved. Prayer changes things and is the foundation for any action you may take in the future.
2. See how you fit into God’s larger story
This is also foundational, but reading and engaging with the Bible can bring a lot of perspective. As you align yourself with the truth in God’s Word, you learn more about who He is and what His plan is for the world. Jesus laid out the two greatest commandments in the Bible—to love God and love people, so as we do this we can’t help but impact the world around us.
3. Open your eyes to your immediate world
It’s easy in this tech savvy world to focus on things far away and yet ignore the people next to us. Ask God for the ability to observe what’s going on around you so that you can be aware of opportunities to serve or affect change with the people and situations he’s already placed in your life.
Maybe your heart burns for the refugees you see in camps in Greece. Chances are there are also refugees in your community that you can reach out to, who need friendship and someone to help them navigate the new situation in which they find themselves.
4. Take one small step at a time
For someone who likes to focus on the big picture, it can be difficult to know where to start. But really, each larger action is just a compilation of many smaller steps. So even if you don’t know fully where something will lead, if you know what to do next, go ahead and do it and trust that God will continue to show you.
It could be a donation to a cause you believe in, a commitment to volunteer once a week at a homeless shelter or the decision to study counseling. Whatever it is, don’t think because it’s not a huge action that it doesn’t matter or that God can’t use it.
5. Partner with others
It’s tempting to want to do things independently, but there is such a strength in walking with other like-minded people. As we join together, we find we can do so much more than if we were alone. God has created us with different talents and abilities so working as a team we are much more than if we were by ourselves.
Your local church is a great place to get involved in reaching out to the community, so see what they are already doing and how you can join. A quick Internet search can also show you other organizations and what they are doing in the community and beyond.
I would also add to partner with others who are different than yourself. To do this may mean you travel so that you are exposed to different viewpoints, personalities, cultures, nationalities and backgrounds. There is something so beautiful (and yet messy) about working and learning from different people. None of us have all the answers, but we serve a God who does and we each reflect Him in different ways.
So gather your courage and choose to love those around you.
Samantha (USA), did her DTS at YWAM Lausanne, and has staffed several schools here since. She is now serving in our admissions department.
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