How to Impact the World Without Being a Celebrity

by Andy Wood on August 11, 2015

in Enlarging Your Capacity, Five LV Laws, Leadership, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Legacy

man and woman

World changers… Meh.

We’ve turned that into a badly-worn cliché. It seems as though anybody with a Selfie Stick and a cause can be labeled a world changer.

And if your goal is to be famous – to get your 15 minutes of viral – let me just remind you that these days that cuts both ways. Thanks to the wonders of always-on video, social media and instant rushes to judgment, you can go from completely unknown to globally hated within hours. Just ask Walt Palmer or Justine Sacco.

But what if I were to tell you that it’s possible to have global impact – the long-term kind, way past your local address and far past your own lifetime – without being a celebrity or even well-known? What if it were possible to shake the earth with potential without ever holding a microphone or appearing in the media? What if I told you that even when you felt swatted away like a gnat by the elites, you could still make history?

This is for those who are looking for a hero without a stage, press conference, or package to sell. This is for those who may have resigned themselves to obscurity at best, or chronic rejection at worst. This is for the ordinary guy with average intelligence or the woman who has a cause (or calling), but no one to recognize their genius or talent.

I want to introduce you to the first “power couple” in the New Testament. But let me hasten to say that these two never conducted a massive missionary campaign, started a church, wrote a book of the Bible, or even said anything that was written down for future generations. They appear to be walking wallflowers. And yet the most famous Christian of his day said something about them that he never said of anyone else.

Why?

Because he saw the enormous difference these two people made, not just in his life, but throughout the Roman Empire. Check this out:

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house (Romans 16:3-5).

Stop.

Read that little phrase again:

…to whom not only I give thanks, but also ALL the churches of the Gentiles.

Interesting compliment for a first-century Jewish couple, who became followers of Jesus. Their influence greatly exceeded the lives they personally touched, and it reached way past even their own local culture and race. In saying “thank you” to Priscilla and Aquilla, Paul also said that all the churches of the Gentiles owed them their thanks.

Pretty profound impact, wouldn’t you say? For somebody you may have never heard of?

And just think… they didn’t even have Instagram or Facebook.

The Resume

Here’s what we know of know of Aquila and his wife. He was from what is today northern Turkey. Somehow they migrated to Rome. They were Jews who became followers of Christ, and owned a tent-making business. When Emperor Claudius kicked all Jews out of Rome they relocated to Corinth, where they met Paul. Their common interests, both in business and the gospel, represented the first documented instance of marketplace ministry.

Aquila and Priscilla apparently hosted Paul, professionally and personally, in their home for a year and a half there in Corinth. They left with him, when he sailed for Syria, but stayed in Ephesus as Paul sailed on to Antioch. They were in Ephesus when the fiery, golden-tongued Apollos arrived, and took him aside to “explain the word of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26).

Everywhere they went, Priscilla and Aquila seemed to have a church that met in their house. It was most likely true in Corinth, and was definitely true when they lived in Ephesus. Evidently they moved back to Rome when the coast was clear, and once again, they hosted a house church.

What You Can Learn

In one simple greeting, Paul reveals some things about this original “power couple.” And what I love about his description of them is that anybody can do this, given the right amount of commitment and passion. Here is how Aquila and Priscilla earned the thanks of every church of the first century – and how you can have the same level of impact.

Innovation

They constantly used their home, wherever it was, as a ministry tool. They practiced hospitality and looked for ways to leverage their business to achieve their life purpose. They didn’t allow themselves to be defined by their trade, but used their trade to further their cause. Most importantly, they didn’t get stuck in old ruts – they remained creative and nimble, always looking for new combinations of work and practice.

Missionality

Whenever this couple is mentioned, they always appear to be heading in the same direction. Whether they were stitching tents or hosting a meeting, on a ship or mentoring a leader in the making, they always appear as purposeful. They didn’t get distracted by the trauma of moving, the pain of rejection, the lure of profit, or the headiness of hanging with high-powered people. They stayed true to their unique and primary purpose.

Partnership

They were known, not for the headlines they made, but for the partnerships they invested in. They were Paul’s fellow workers, with enough assurance and authority to work shoulder-to-shoulder with him and to instruct a firebrand like Apollos. They learned early on that they could move mountains by connecting with mountain movers, and so can you. But it takes a rare combination of humility and confidence. Priscilla and Aquila didn’t have to be the focus of attention. But they also weren’t afraid or intimidated about engaging powerful people face-to-face or side-by-side.

Adaptation

What would you do if you and your business were no longer welcome in your community? (If you’re thinking something like that could never happen to you, get your head out of the sand.) After being forced out of Rome because of racial hatred, Aquila and Priscilla learned to adapt. They flexed with needs and opportunities as they presented themselves, but stayed true to who they were. Their business was mobile, and they were willing to hit the road with it if they could further the gospel in the process.

Community

They were constantly the new folks in town. Who could fault this couple for blending into the background and living anonymously? But that wasn’t their style. They wisely recognized their need for deep relationships, as well as their unique gifts of leadership and shepherding. So everywhere they set up home and hearth, a church was soon to follow. They were all about impacting the lives of the people they connected with, regardless of the location or source.

Teamwork

They were partners themselves. Everywhere one was mentioned, the other was there. This husband and wife figured out how to live, lead, and run a business as a team. Did they have individual influence and reach? Of course. But they obviously learned that they could multiply their reach and influence by working together – in a world where women and men worked in completely separate environments.

Effort

Paul referred to them as fellow workers in Christ. From the get-go, they both understood that living missionally involves work, and work they did. They were willing to go wherever the work took them, and offered no whining or excuses for the demands placed upon them.

Risk

Aquila and Priscilla took risks – literally of their lives – for the benefit of Paul personally, and the gospel corporately. They were willing to do the inconvenient and uncomfortable, and risk their business, reputation, and lives to further the kingdom.

 

Neither of these people ever wrote a book or epistle that we know of (they hardly had time!). They never made a recorded speech. They walked among some spiritual giants, but didn’t get caught up in celebrity. Yet Paul makes it clear that every Gentile church had part of their DNA flowing through it.

Aquila and Priscilla were I.M.P.A.C.T.E.R.s. They literally changed the world without being celebrities. And so can you. Here are some starter questions to get your wheels turning:

  • Can you define your life mission or purpose in one or two sentences?
  • How can you bring your life and work into alignment with your life mission?
  • Who can you partner with to multiply your influence?
  • Who is/are your life partner(s), and how can you work as a team?
  • What would you do for the mission and/or the Kingdom if convenience, comfort, or risk weren’t a consideration?
  • How can you stay road-ready and adaptable?
  • How can you use your home and/or business as a ministry tool?
  • Who’s in “your house” – that is, who’s in the organizations you meet with, or the groups of people you meet regularly with to “do life” together? How can you build them up and encourage them?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Martha Orlando August 12, 2015 at 3:06 pm

Inspiring post, Andy! I loved hearing about Priscilla and Aquila – we can (and we do) accomplish great things for the Kingdom when we use the talents God has given us.
Blessings!
Martha Orlando´s last blog post ..Our Father is at the Helm

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