What’s Your “One Thing”?
If you ask almost anyone what they want to do with their life, they will respond with something along the lines of “I want to help people.” While that’s all well and good, it’s a bit vague. I definitely believe that we are all called to help each other in our own unique way. You have something to give me that I need and don’t have, and vice versa. You more than likely have something that a lot of people need, not just me. Any great legacy can be measured by the amount of influence someone had during and after their life, and how much they leveraged that influence to help others in some way. The problem is that, as a course of action, that motivation alone won’t get us very far in life. We need some clarity on what our “helping people” looks like and the context for it. I want to propose a way of getting that clarity, and it starts with something much more personal.
What do you love?
I believe God intentionally gave us very specific desires. Things to pursue; things to discover that are unique to us. While helping people is great, it will never suffice as an end unto itself. We need something more. We need that desire to point the way, to be our compass.
Here’s what I mean. Say you love to write. You are passionate about it and know it might be what you are called to do with your life. Well, as you pursue that desire, get proficient with it, and put it out into the world, people will notice. Specific people actually. At first it will be a small group of people, and then it will grow over time. Those people aren’t noticing and following you because you love sports or movies, they’re following you because you love writing. That’s what they noticed. As you get better at writing, you gain authority in that area. Eventually, you grow to a place where you know how to help writers. You have something they specifically need. Instead of just pursuing helping people and trying to figure out exactly how you are supposed to do that, pursue the specific desire in your heart. Grow it into a tree that produces fruit for others to eat.
When desire comes, it is a tree of life.
You’ll then find that helping writers eventually expands into a much broader audience of people in different walks of life, not just writing. More on this in a moment.
Chad Johnson loves music. He also really loves helping people. If you know anything about Christian rock music in the last 15+ years, then you might be familiar with his name. His story is an incredible one. (You can hear it on the podcast here.) Through his love for music, Chad started a record label and quickly signed on a few bands. He eventually garnered the attention of Tooth and Nail Records, who offered him a position in the company. It was a great gig, where he worked with bands such as Underoath, Anberlin, and many others. But Chad felt pulled toward something more. His real passion wasn’t the music itself, but the people – the singers and musicians. They are a group of people who get lots of attention and love from adoring fans and the media, but are in desperate need for real connection and mentoring. Enter Chad. That’s what he really loves, and that’s what he’s doing today. It just so happens that his pursuit into the music industry opened the door to reach that very specific group of people who need exactly what Chad has. He could have chosen many paths for his life, but that one desire led him down the path that gave him access to the people he was supposed to help. (See what that looks like today over at Chad’s organization, Come and Live.)
The pursuit of your specific calling will give you access to the people you are supposed to help.
Now, let’s expand on this a little.
Take a second and think of someone that you admire who’s no longer here, someone that you would definitely say has left a great legacy. What is it that they are known for? More than likely it’s something very specific. Steve Jobs is known for Apple – the iPod and iPhone more specifically. Walt Disney is known for Mickey Mouse, for animation. What’s amazing about people like this is the quotes we love from them. Here’s a couple, for example.
From Steve Jobs:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.”
From Walt Disney:
” All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
Notice something interesting? None of these quotes have anything to do with iPods or movies. They’re bigger than that. We can take this wisdom and apply it to almost any path in life. But wisdom like this started from a very specific course of action, a very specific desire. Because these men pursued that one thing in their life so relentlessly, they eventually gained access to speak to all of us, to help all of us.
And so can be the case with your life, and with your desire. If you will pursue that one thing that stands out above everything else, you will position yourself to help people – the right people. The more you pursue that one thing, and the better you get at it, the more people you can help. Eventually that sphere of influence will bleed into many walks of life and influence multitudes of people. But it starts with one thing.
Chad’s one thing was music. Steve Job’s was the iPod. Walt Disney’s was a cartoon character.
What’s your one thing? Find it and you will discover what your “helping people” looks like.
“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.”
- Walt Disney