How to Effectively Impact Those Around You

BY LAUREN WITTEL

Photo by Emily Fletke

Photo by Emily Fletke

You are uniquely positioned to positively impact people only you can touch, and only now, in this season, and in your sphere of influence. Who knows? You may be the only encouragement they receive all week. Your small act of generosity may be the best gift they receive all month. Your decision to sacrifice comfort and, for example, invite a woman struggling with homelessness to share a meal might spark a chain of events that completely transforms her life. (Take 5 minutes to watch this story.)

So, how do you bring positive change to those around you? Make these things a priority:

STRENGTHEN YOUR ROOTS 

A tree’s roots are the true measure of its vitality. Without strong roots and access to nutrients, a tree cannot remain healthy or produce a crop of fruit. In fact, most mature trees contain roots that spread two to three times the size of the tree’s canopy! 

In order to be a sustainable, generous, and compassionate person that does good, our hearts need to be rooted in love. We need to put down roots so we can grow strong: “If I give everything I own to the poor...but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”  When we put down roots into a relationship with God, his perfect love begins to flow through us. 

The posture of our hearts is a priority.

MAKE SPACE

Too often when we neglect our roots we begin to wilt. Or we allow weeds of fear to creep up and stifle our purpose of fruitfulness that benefits ourselves and others. In order to do good, we must acknowledge the fear of failure or fear of discomfort and then, do good anyway! We must make space in our hearts and in our schedules for compassion, mercy, and justice.

If our hearts are not open, we will miss opportunities. 

RESPOND TO THE OPPORTUNITY

Over 2,000 verses in the Bible speak about poverty and social justice. They communicate how important this is to God and give a sense of the urgency with which we should respond. But even more than that, Jesus told his followers how much he identified with the marginalized: “I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me — you did it to me.” Did you catch that? Just one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored. At the core, helping others isn’t about systems, strategies, or impact assessments — which are all good things — but rather, it’s about understanding and responding to the opportunity right in front of us. 

Is there a person right in front of you who you can encourage, show generosity to, or start a chain of events that transforms his or her life?

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Lauren is the Communications Director at a local non-profit New York City Relief -- a mobile outreach to our homeless neighbors in NYC & NJ. She has worked at local, state and national levels of government administration & political campaigns, and has served as a digital advertising consultant. Lauren loves eating tacos, going to the theater to see her incredibly talented friends perform, book store/thrift store/coffee shop hopping, and taking dance and yoga classes. Formerly in the Village, she now lives on the Upper East Side.