Making a Difference by Dave Kahle

April 18, 2024

For most of my life, I’ve been driven by a desire to make a difference. And, for much of that time, that motivation was lurking below the surface, taking up significant space in my sub-conscious and subliminally prodding my thoughts and actions. Sometimes that thought rose to the top of my mind and became a recognized, conscious effort.

In those seasons, I would give conscientious thought to it.  The question took various forms, but it ultimately settled to this, “How do I make a difference — in my life, in my family, in my career and in my business?”

I suspect that a good number of my readers share the same urge. It’s for that reason that I am sharing what I have learned.  As a veteran professional speaker, author and consultant, I’ve had decades of experience on which to reflect. I’ve been privileged to have the experience of interacting with thousands of people, across every state in the Union, most of Canada and Mexico and a dozen or so other countries.

Understanding that there may be lots of different, and valid, answers to the question of “how do I make a difference,” here’s one guy’s opinion.  These three strategies rise to the surface.

Give dedicated expression to our unique gifts.

I use ‘gifts” as a catch-all term for our unique talents, interests and motivations. We are all unique and have a one-of-a-kind combination of latent talents, core interests and life experiences. When we realize that and develop them to the highest degree that we can, we fill a unique need in the universe.

I love the expression that Christ used, when He said of his followers that they were salt and light to a dark and hurting world.  Salt is only valuable when it is placed in a non-salted environment, where it can touch and flavor everything around it. Light is only useful in the dark, where it illuminates the world around it. I like to think that, like salt, we are sprinkled into the environment in which we find ourselves.  Developing and giving fruition to our gifts is a way of claiming our ‘saltiness’ and influencing those in our spheres.  In that way, we make a difference.

Seek to discover the needs of those who pass through our lives.

Every now and then, I have the experience of hearing someone’s life story. I am continually amazed at the difficulties they faced.  Everyone confronts adversity, experiences trouble, and struggles with the ups and downs of life. Lots of people in your world could benefit from your help.  Most of us, myself as well, are most of the time oblivious to the hurt around us. Yet, making a difference means that you make a difference to some individual.   The first step in making a difference to that person is to become aware of their pain and their need.  Easier said than done in a world where social media promotes superficial experiences and phony personalities. Like the first point, this isn’t an event, it’s a continuous, never-ending process.

Work at developing a higher character

            That our character impacts everything we do is a fundamental human truth, that for generations has been a bedrock to our understanding of what it means to be a mature adult human being. That seems to have been lost on much of the population these days.

Some time ago I came across this quote:

Watch your thoughts:  They become words.

Watch your words:  They become actions.

Watch your actions:  They become habits.

Watch your habits:  They become character.

Watch your character:  It becomes your destiny.

As we develop certain “higher” character traits, we gain the capacity to make a difference. The Bible has a prescription for what those should be, as well as a promise about their impact:

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, Christian love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful….2 Peter 1: 5 – 8

Developing the character traits of moral excellence, godliness, brotherly kindness and Christian love is a great prescription for making a difference.

It occurs to me that the three ideas above all have something in common.

All of these have God in the center of them.  It was God who gave us the talents and life experiences he wants us to have.  The idea of sensitizing our antenna to the needs of those around us is an oft-repeated encouragement in the New Testament, probably best expressed by Jesus’s commands in articulating the ‘greatest commandment:

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[ Matthew 22: 37-39

And developing a Christian character is clearly a Biblical directive.

Add those up and you come to the conclusion that in order to make a difference in this world, we need to strive to bring God into our lives.  Of course, He has said as much in the Bible over and over again. Here’s one such promise:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In

With him actively involved in our lives, we’ll tap into his power, get in sync with his plans for us, and make a difference. all your ways acknowledge him and He shall direct your paths  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Without his active involvement in our life, we’ll eventually default to the baser human characteristics – pride and self-absorption.

He’s the ultimate difference-maker.

Dave Kahle
The Kahle Way 
sell better, manage better, lead better
(616) 451-9377