“You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” – Galatians 5:7-9
What is influence? The dictionary defines influence as “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.”
But a lifetime of experiences has taught me that it is not so easily defined. For Christians, it often seems that God’s greatest moments for us are never for us alone. These pivotal moments in our lives are always about our lives touching the lives of others or someone touching ours. A life touched by God always ends in touching others; whether it be a spouse, brother, co-worker, neighbor or any other relationships, or maybe it is a complete stranger.
This is evident throughout the Bible, where ordinary people are empowered by God to affect the world in extraordinary ways. The fact that 12 men, largely untrained, with sorted pasts could change the world is proof of that statement. It is also proof that we too can influence people whether it be in someone’s inner circle, or in a relationship, in our Northstar Group or with someone we met in the mall. And those people can influence us just as easily when they are members of our inner circle or in our Northstar Group.
So how can we be a Godly influence on those we are in relationships with? Let me share a few general thoughts with you.
1. Pray for the people in the relationship and the relationship in general. 1 Timothy 2:1,8 says, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people…Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.”
2. Walk the walk. Be a Christlike example to others. Titus 2:7 says, “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” 1 Peter 2:12: ”Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”
3. By working at the relationship enthusiastically, as to the Lord. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” (Colossians 3:23)
4. By faithfully enduring, through God’s power, the inevitable bumps and valleys that come along in any relationship. 2 Corinthians 4: 7-12 says: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”
And finally, by loving others. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
These are some of the attributes that enable us to influence others and others influence us.
1. How do your peers influence you? Do you act differently around certain people? Explain.
2. Do your views and opinions influence your friends? Why or why not? How are your beliefs and values respected by your peers?
3. How do you positively influence your friends? How do you negatively influence your friends?
4. Is it difficult to do something that opposes what your friends think that you should do? How do you handle those situations?
5. Pray and ask God that you be a positive Godly influence with those you are in relationships with.