Your Influence (Part 2)
You’ll influence persons you’ll never know in your own generation and those in generations yet unborn. My paternal grandfather died nine years before I was born. He put a high priority on keeping his promises. He probably learned it from his father. Today, about 155 years after he was born, I try to embody that virtue.
Your influence can be positive, negative or morally neutral. One foolish, unthinking act can torment people you’ll never know for the rest of their lives. Adam Lanza proved it in an elementary school in Connecticut on December 14, 2012. One sacrificial, loving act can bring hope and healing to millions. Jesus proved it at Golgotha almost 2000 years ago.
The question isn’t whether you influence others. You do. How will you influence others? Is it Brand Worldliness or Brand Jesus? The answer isn’t different depending on the values of the family or society in which you live. God’s character is the gold standard of influence. Godly character traits are right and good. Ungodly traits are wrong and bad. Some bricks in the wall of your life are neither good nor bad. Whether you put mustard or ketchup on your hotdog is morally neutral. Your character, like everyone’s, has godly, ungodly and morally neutral bricks. If you are a disciple of Jesus, out of you flows both living water and polluted water. Christian maturity is the process of maximizing the flow of the first and minimizing the flow of the second.
Godly influence is like a good gene passed from generation to generation. The hereditary norm in my family is unusually low bad cholesterol and unusually high good cholesterol. That’s one reason my dad lived to 102 and his mother to 103. On the other hand, ungodly influence is like a hereditary predisposition to colon cancer passed from generation to generation. I’ve got that too. Godly behavior copied leads to blessings that can flow from one life to another for generations. Ungodly behavior imitated begets more ungodly behavior like a virus spreading from person to person.
Children learn by copying what they hear and see. Adults do too. Your models influence your character by what they say, how they think, and what they do. They have a far-reaching effect on you and others through you. This principle explains why churches tend to become like their pastor. Children become like their parents. Spouses become more like each other over time.
You’re a composite of the behaviors you’ve imitated to date. Many of them were found in the people closest to you. You’re both a transmitter and a receiver. Like a television station that never goes off the air, you’re continuously transmitting. While you’re imitating others, others are imitating you!
What determines whether your influence will be a blessing or a curse? It’s all in your mind. What you’re transmitting flows naturally from your thoughts. You have the freedom to choose what thoughts will grow in the garden of your mind. Thoughts you didn’t plant will emerge, but you must pull them like weeds so superior thoughts can thrive. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8, NIV).
Your thought-life determines your influence. Your words and actions follow the leader of your thoughts. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.” The destiny of your church and its influence from generation-to- generation hinges on the quality of the thought-life of its members and leaders. Think about what’s true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Out of you will flow rivers of living water that will bless your own generation and untold generations yet to come!
I invite you to check out my book, His Power for Your Weakness, a devotional discipleship resource and to share it with others: https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B09NZG9W7L&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_FSRD4SGCXC35KMZ6ED5R
See free spiritual growth resources for Christians at https://www.christiangrowthresources.com
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