My 7-year-old grandson had one life left to lose in his video game. He was not going to get zapped again – but – then he did. And without thinking he loudly blurted out, “Aw (bleep)!” His opponent, who happened to be his dad, froze in stunned surprise.
Dad properly reprimanded him and asked, “Where have you heard that word before?” Without hesitation he said, “I heard Papaw say it!”
What? No fair! I wasn’t even there to defend myself. And he has never heard me say such a thing.
However, to be fair, long before he was ever born, back in my pre-Christian days, most every sentence I said was spiced up with a foul word. After I came to Jesus, my language was redeemed, but I did retain the bad habit of using sanctified expletives like, “Aw darn it.”
BUT I plead “not guilty” to my grandson’s accusation.
I was reminded that I have influence in the life of my grandson. According to the dictionary – to have influence is, “to affect or change someone or something in an indirect but usually important way.” (Miriam-Webster)
Let me try to make this a little less abstract. When I was a kid my parents both smoked. So when I went out to play with my friends, I smelled of cigarettes. When I became a teen, I also began to smoke. It was not a command or even the desire of my parents, and yet I began to smoke.
They hugely affected my behavior by theirs. That is influence!
My grandson learned from my example to respond to sudden disappointment with a rude exclamation. Beyond that he assumed that my general behavior was the rule by which his should be measured. He figured that if he could persuade his dad that Papaw cussed, then it was OK.
Influence is something that you probably have as well – for better or for worse. Those closest to you are especially impacted. They watch and learn as you do life. Other are impacted as well such as your coworkers, neighbors and your church family.
Even a young person can have influence. Timothy of the New Testament was a young man who was charged with managing the church at Ephesus. It was a tough gig leading a crowd that exceeded him in age. In fact, Paul wrote, “Let no one look down on you because you are young…” – 1 Tim. 4:12a NETBible.com ®
He was young, but he had influence. Paul went on to say, “but set an example for the believers in your speech, conduct, love, faithfulness, and purity. – 1 Timothy 4:12b
It was as if Paul knew that the folks there would have a hard time respecting authoritative words, but they could not resist the influence of a godly life.
The influence we have is far more potent than the words we say.
We can’t confuse influence with authority. Authority forces a child to conform to a parent’s will. Influence compels them, by the child’s choice, to follow their parent. A person may have authority and yet lack influence.
So how do we develop this influence?
1-Choose the influence of Jesus for yourself.
This world doesn’t need anymore alcoholics, drug addicts, or even mediocre church goers. Live a life worth emulating. Follow the example of Jesus. Experience His resurrection life and you won’t go wrong. (John 13:15)
2- Cultivate a warm relationship with those you wish to influence.
It is the people that we love and affirm and serve and encourage that are drawn to us and are most influenced by us. Like a moth drawn to the light, they come.
The converse is true of course. When we fail to nurture relationships, those people drift farther away from us, and take little of us with them.
As for me, I hope that my grandson takes more away from me than my sanctified expletives.
A PRAYER: Lord help us to understand the power we possess to positively affect others.
This has been Jim Johnson and pickleheavenpress.com
May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you