“He who goes about to reform the world must begin with himself, or he loses his labor.” – St. Ignatius of Loyola
There seem to be a lot of people who want to reform the world lately. I often wonder if they are spending as much time focusing on reforming themselves. As the saying goes, we must be the change we wish to see.
That’s not to say we can’t and shouldn’t try to do our parts to make the world and our communities more just and compassionate places to live as we are evolving in our faith. We are in fact called to be Christian stewards of our time, treasure, and talent and lift up those who suffer. This work must continue.
If we don’t work on ourselves and our own hearts first, however, how do we really know we are doing the work of God? If we aren’t aligned to God’s will, and if we aren’t listening to His Word and voice in our lives, how do we really know what He wants us to focus on in our service? How do we know that what we are doing is glorifying God versus glorifying ourselves and our own social or political views?
Most of the world changers in history went through personal and spiritual conversions and transformations before they were given their big mission - before they truly made their mark on the world. In fact, many of these conversions and transformations have striking similarities. In my own life, several years ago, I said "God, I want to change the world," and God said "Hold that thought until I change you."
I'm learning that here’s a reason why this transformation is necessary. Transformation purifies our hearts, humbles us, and deepens our trust and obedience. It places us more closely in union with God, which allows us to do His work … His way. If we are chained to deep patterns of sin in our lives, do not lead active prayer lives, or fail to fully obey God’s call and commands, we have some serious gaps that are going to to limit our good work.
Consider your own personal reformation before you consider how you might impact the world’s reformation. Only then, will you make the impact that you truly desire to have on the world, but more so, the coming of God's kingdom into the world.