Stories & Blog

Expanding Your Worldview at Any Age

Connie Neckers | September 29, 2021

When I first started working at the church, the word "worldview" seemed to get tossed around frequently in conversations. I really wasn't sure what it meant—and even if I had a worldview.

I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania where most people made their living by working in small manufacturing companies or by farming. Everyone who lived there basically looked like me—all but one family were of European descent.

Except for one 200-mile train trip to my aunt's house, most of my travels as a kid were no further than 50 miles from home. As I grew older my world still remained small. I went to school to get a technical degree and didn't take the type of classes that would expose me to new ways of thinking or perceiving those around me.

I was well into my 20s before my toe touched the ocean or I flew on an airplane. I was 30 before God first became a bleep on my radar, and I was almost 50 before I went on my first mission trip to Mexico and experienced absolute and profound poverty.

What is a worldview? 
Freelance writer Mary Ihla suggests that our worldview is a framework of beliefs, values, and attitudes which affects everything we think, feel, and do. We begin developing our worldview as children, but we’re restricted by the boundaries of what we can experience. Expanding our worldview helps us develop as human beings.

If this is the case, no wonder I had a limited worldview—I was pretty stunted! Happily for me, God placed me in a work environment where I could grow, expand and gain experience. 

How I learned to dream bigger
One of the things that has helped catapult me forward in the past 15 years or so has been the privilege of attending the Global Leadership Summit, a Christian-based leadership conference where we can learn from leaders that are making a difference all over the world.

I have learned wonderful things that have challenged me to dream bigger, conquer my fears, recognize that we all have influence and the ability to lead. 

Making a difference around the world
One of my favorite Summit presentations occurred in 2010; the speaker was a young woman named Jessica Jackley—the co-founder of Kiva, a non-profit organization that connects those who are willing to lend as little as $25 to an entrepreneur in a developing country. There are profiles of the borrowers listed on Kiva's website along with the amount of money they need and what they intend to do with it.

My first loan of $25 went to Juan, a farmer from Peru who needed $150 to buy fertilizer to improve his land and grow more crops. He paid me back after a number of months, and then I lent $25 to Connie from the Philippines, who needed to buy more groceries for her small store.

In total I have loaned that same $25 to 15 different entrepreneurs in 11 different countries. It’s exciting to me that I have gotten to make a tiny difference in places like Nigeria, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe, Ecuador and Indonesia.

This has been a wonderful experience that has expanded my worldview; it has helped me learn about and relate to people in far-off places in the world. These folks are working hard, often in very difficult circumstances. I find that I have a sense of pride in their accomplishments each time I get a message that they have repaid their loan. I could see how this type of success contributes to their dignity, their confidence, and their willingness to continue to take risks.

I am grateful that our worldviews aren't set in stone. We can continue to grow and expand as we encounter each new person and each new experience in life. 

God is also at work aligning our worldviews with his. Paul reminds of this in Philippians 1:6 — God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure he will continue it until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again. 

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