Boldness! Think for a moment of difference makers — those who are bold in their faith, willing to stand, or even fight for what’s right. How many difference makers do you know? Is your list long or short? What qualities or attributes secured their place in this elite category?
Even in the most difficult of circumstances, they rise fearless, daring and brave before danger. Others on your list may possess a steady confidence and assurance. Do you know people who stand out from the mediocre crowd as adventurous, free, and bold thinkers? Or perhaps audacious, gutsy faith makes them bold difference makers.
I guarantee none of them secured the weighty mantle of boldness by marching in step with crowd-pleasers or glory-seekers. Thirty years ago, my search for fearless risk takers for the Kingdom of God would have appeared scant. Today, I hear a distinct sound rising from off-beat places, setting a new rhythm, as more people respond to God’s call to make a difference.
We all desire to be bold, to become true difference makers. We want our lives to matter both now and for eternity. But how?
A Different Spirit
If we follow the masses, we will become disillusioned. If we cast our gaze to earthly leaders as our example, it may disappoint us.
“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”
Moses picked the cream of the crop, the best of the best from each tribe, the fathers and leaders to be the forerunners and difference makers, paving the way for all to follow. These recognized leaders were to be the first to step into God’s promise.
Even after rereading this passage dozens of times, the names of these twelve delegates slip from my memory. All proved to be cookie-cutter replicas of would-be greatness. Except for two of them, the rest fade into oblivion. Why? Boldness, or lack of it, created the dividing factor.
“Each time you fail, there’s a clue to your future success. You need to fail boldly if you want to succeed extravagantly.”
Ten recognized leaders viewed themselves through the lens of the natural. They focused on fortified cities. Intimidated by giants, they conclude,
” . . . We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.’ And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, ‘The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size . . . We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.’ ”
The majority, ten of the twelve, “dibbat” — whispered a defamatory evil report. Just that one word paints vivid imagery of their true nature.
Only two men, whose names have endured and whose prominence increased, stood against the crowd. Joshua and Caleb rose with boldness,
“Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.’ “
Oh, how my heart leaps to see the Calebs of our generation rising with a clear voice, inviting us to join them. “Go! We can!”
Recognized within their families and communities, all twelve men occupied platforms of influence. Little did they realize the impending consequences and impact of their unsteady leadership.
Because of small thinking, weak faith and fear-based assessment, they and an entire nation of people wasted forty years in the wilderness until a new generation rose with boldness to do what should have been done decades earlier. What a sobering reality! Too afraid to pursue God’s promise, they died running away from it.
Only Joshua and Caleb marched resolutely into it!
“But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.”
Caleb became a difference maker because he possessed a different spirit — a spirit that flowed directly from following God wholeheartedly.”
Few people reach the height of influence these twelve possessed. Unfortunately, they underestimated the power of their influence for both good and evil. Our impact may never reach beyond the boundaries of family, workplace, community, or church, but we dare not repeat their error. With God in the equation, only He knows the ripple effect of our voice of influence.
The power of our influence exceeds our wildest imagination. Ears listen to our voices; eyes watch our steps; hearts follow our ways. Let’s strive to be a Caleb, one who follows God wholehearted and possesses a different spirit. May we develop boldness to use our influence, becoming difference makers.
Caleb literally means “whole hearted”, which also encompasses “faithful, devotion, bold and brave.” Even in old age, he refused to excuse himself from battle, while leaning on a cane or resting under an olive tree.
” . . . So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day . . . ” Numbers 14: 10-12
With the wind blowing through his whitened beard, Caleb raised his sword, pointing toward the territory of “his” promise, where the largest of the giants perched themselves resolutely behind their walled fortresses. “Let me loose!” Caleb shouted, “I’m prepared to conquer!” What boldness!
He knew the success of the conquest lay in divine, not human, hands.
“Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. So Hebron has belonged to Caleb . . . ever since, because he followed the LORD, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.”
Joshua bless Caleb, but he still had to fight to secure that blessing!
Boldness flows from an intimate relationship with God. Caleb’s family participated in, and benefited from, his audacious faith. As a watchful guardian over his own household, he promised to give his daughter in marriage to only the bravest and boldest man, willing to take the city by force. His nephew, Othniel, rose to the challenge, seizing Hebron with his uncle.
“Only those leaders who act boldly in times of crisis and change are willingly followed.”
Difference makers become mountain takers, passing the mantle of boldness to subsequent generations.
The Bible preserves these defining moments of ancient encounters with giants, impossible assignments of combat, and incredible conquests for God’s purposes. Through them, the Holy Spirit warns us:
“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”
1 Corinthians 10:11
Though the circumstances vary, everyone faces challenges — challenges to overcome through wholehearted devotion to God and unflinching boldness. We must resist the temptation to look for the easy way out or follow the often misdirected crowds.
Second, these accounts create pathways of hope.
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”
“Fear no one! Love everyone!”
Rob Reimer, Senior Pastor LSC
As we ponder boldness and influence making, the question that each of us must answer is, “Who is the strongest voice in our lives — God or people?” Have we become more concerned with what God is saying or what people are thinking about us? Only if we develop the attributes of Caleb will we become difference makers in our time.
May our lists of difference makers expand as men and women, boys and girls, the old and young, rise up: daring and brave, fearless before danger, confident and assured, standing out prominently, audacious, adventurous and free. Listen! Look around! Can you see and hear them?