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Doing Good

"Making a difference for the future starts with planting that seed of service today." By Lt. Meagan Ruff

Have you ever had one of those moments where you had to take a step back and recognize, “Wow, this is worth it?”

The first few times I attempted making a difference in my little corner of the world did not bring about this reaction. My focus was on accumulating volunteer hours for college applications more than doing actual good. I saw service as a project rather than a purpose. 

The good news for us is that the God of the universe sees and knows and loves us and doesn’t want us volunteering and serving just to mark it down on paper. He’s got good things for us. He created us with giftings, desires and endless opportunities for us to stretch those “do good” muscles and make a real difference where we’re at. 

So how do we wade through all the opportunities, the rallies and the nonprofits to figure out what kind of purpose we have in our spheres? I’ve got a few ideas. 

Know Your Gifts

As followers of Jesus, we’re all given different gifts. I love the NIRV translation of 1 Corinthians 12:4-6:

“There are different kinds of gifts. But they are all given to believers by the same Spirit. There are different ways to serve. But they all come from the same Lord. There are different ways the Spirit works. But the same God is working in all these ways and in all people.”

God infiltrates the world through us. He cares for people through us. And He uses us to make a difference in the world. You can go out and try to do great things for God, but it’s helpful to know what gifts He has given you to use in that endeavor!

If you’re unfamiliar with spiritual gifts, it may be overwhelming at first. The Bible offers many different gifts that the Spirit distributes to believers. Some sound super church-y, like prophecy, wisdom, discernment and mercy. Some sound just like normal, everyday jobs, like administration, service, hospitality and giving. 

The lists go on, but these gifts from the Holy Spirit are meant to equip and empower the Church on earth. They are for us to grow into and wield for making a difference in our communities, our relationships and the world.  

Get Real About Your Passions

So, does making a difference only count if it’s something spiritual? 

I’d argue that most things can be spiritual. God didn’t intend for us to live two lives, one spiritual and one worldly. But instead, He wanted us to infiltrate the world for His cause. If we truly are temples, and the Holy Spirit resides within us, then we make places, events and relationships spiritual just by being there. 

So, that brings us to passions. What do you care about? What gets you fired up? These are things that God has placed in your heart as arenas to make a difference. 

If God so loved the world, it makes sense that our passions would be vast and varied, reaching into popular culture and the random side passions that we may pick up, to tell others about Him, directly or indirectly. No passion is too big or too random to be chased after.

Find The Sweet Spot

I once overheard someone say that there was no way that video games could be a ministry. And now, five years later, there are more gaming ministries than I can name. There are gamers on Twitch who stream their play while engaging with their audience. There are groups that get together and pray or have a simple Bible study before gaming. For some gamers, simply entering the online gaming world and being a voice of encouragement and light is exactly what God has called them to do.

These are examples of people taking something they are passionate about and using their gifts to make a difference. What used to be seen a way for teenagers to waste time is now one of the biggest ministry opportunities of our lifetime. Recognizing that and finding that sweet spot of gifts and passions is crucial in making a difference in our world. 

What’s that for you? Where do your passions and gifts line up? The opportunities to do good can be endless! 

If your spiritual gift is teaching, and you’re passionate about the environment, use that gift to teach others how to care for the world God gave us. If you aren’t a big people person, but your spiritual gift is service, volunteer time to pack food boxes at your local food bank! You can spend time to pray for the families who will receive the food and be a huge help to the food bank. It may not seem like much, but that is changing your community and the world. 

Whether you’re going to go out and care for bees, start mentoring a younger kid or raise awareness for causes on social media, you’ll never know what good you can do until you take that first step. Making a difference for the future starts with planting that seed of service today.

for further study

Ready to get started? Here are some steps you can take to start making a difference where you’re at:

  • Talk with your pastor or corps officers about taking a spiritual gifts inventory, or search for one online. 
  • If you’re still unsure where to start, get in contact with your local Salvation Army Corps. There are always ways to join in on the mission, make change and do good!
  • Find ministries like Salvation Army Gaming to get involved in. 
  • Read: Letters to the Church by Francis Chan 

Lt. Meagan is a follower of Jesus, serving as a Salvation Army officer (pastor) in the great PNW. Her and her husband, Aaron, have three adorable and rascally daughters, and love to spend time outdoors. In her spare time, Meagan co-hosts a podcast through Caring Magazine called The Commons Podcast, where they get real about everything from mental health to zoo ethics and TikTok trends.

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