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Influence – a blog post

February 16, 2018

The older I get, I think I focus more attention on the influence I have with other people. I’m at the age where there are more people younger than me than older than me in church, and in many crowds I find myself in. I can remember when people were so amazed by things I had accomplished at such a young age. Now it’s just expected, but that’s not a bad thing.

Part of what fuels my thinking about my influence is thinking back to all of those who have influenced me over the years. I’ve been influenced by my parents, family, my wife, my children, my friends, pastors, teachers, church members I’ve served with, gospel music artists I’ve been friends with, people I’ve watched on TV, athletes, people in the communities I’ve lived…the list is lengthy.

I was just having a phone conversation earlier today with a pastor friend of mine who was sharing with me that he had become convicted about spending the rest of his ministry investing in other pastors and being a mentor whenever he could. I’ve heard my “Pastor hero” Johnny Hunt say many times that his passion for the remaining years he has to live on earth, along with pastoring his great church, is to pour into men in ministry. We all need influencers and we’ve all been called to be people of influence.

Let me apply it this way…if my main focus when I attend church and read my Bible is simply to “get fed” and not do anything with it, then I’m just going to get fat and just take up more space from those around me. Our calling is to “go”, “teach”, “make disciples”… in other words, I’m to invest and influence others for the Kingdom of God as long as I’m living on this earth. For me, that starts with my family, then moves to my church, and on to the world. It’s not enough that I preach and teach, I have to be personally involved and invested in being a person of Kingdom influence.

After all, if the end result was “getting fed”, Jesus would have taken me home upon my confession of Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. My work would have been complete. Think about that for a moment.

This week my mind was drawn to a single verse, speaking of the influence of Abel, the second born son of Adam and Eve. He’s the first one listed in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. Regarding Abel, verse 4 tells us that his offering was a “more acceptable sacrifice” than that of Cain, speaking of the fact that he gave the “first-fruits” of his labor, rather than simply “an offering” that Cain gave.

Then there are 9 words given, in three short phrases, that tell a big story…”through his faith, though he died, he still speaks”. Did anyone tell Abel to bring an offering? Did anyone tell Abel to bring the first and the best? We don’t see that directed in Scripture, but Abel, because of his faith in God, just knew that was what he needed to do. He wanted to give God the first and best because he was honoring his Creator.

His faith still speaks today. God’s design has not changed – we are still called to give Him the first and the best – not only in offering, but in everything.

The church must continue to influence the culture if we have any hope of true revival in this world. We must be less consumer, more influencer.

Each of us needs some fine-tuning, once in a while, in our influence. Here are some ways I believe we can do some self-testing on that concept.

  1. Watch your walk – do I have a plan of growth in my spiritual life or am I just counting on the sermon on Sunday morning or the Sunday School lesson to keep me in tune and fresh? If I don’t have a plan, I’ll never truly experience growth, and my walk will be inconsistent at best.
  2. Manage your mission – Looking back on my parenting, I believe this is one area I could have been much more proactive. Oh, I’ve certainly tried to live a consistent Christian life and be a positive role model for my girls, but I don’t know if I could say I had a true plan for this. Since I was lacking in a plan, my course of action was to wait for something to go wrong and try to fix it. Not the best idea. A better plan would be to intentionally work to shape and mold those young lives into active workers for the Kingdom. They’ve done well in spite of their father.
  3. Minister your money – If I don’t have a plan for my finances, I will always be working from behind. If my plan doesn’t have Jesus at the front and involve giving the first-fruits of every paycheck back to Him, I’m allowing my money to be cursed and setting myself up for failure. It’s in the Word, clearly. Look it up.
  4. Investigate your involvements – A number of years ago, my daughter had the opportunity to play on a select basketball team, which would have involved playing every weekend, including lots of Sundays. I didn’t allow it, but if I’m honest, at the time, I wondered if I was holding her back from succeeding in a sport she loved. Time proved over and over again I made the right decision to declare that our involvements were not going to interfere with being in God’s House on Sunday morning. What message am I sending to my kids and others I have relationships with if I don’t keep the worship of God as a top priority? Not only that, but what am I saying to God about my priorities?
  5. Inspect your integrity – Your true integrity is measured by what you do when nobody is looking. If the boss is away, are you still working hard? If you think nobody will notice, are you willing to give into that temptation to steal or do something illegal or immoral? I enjoy my smartphone as much as the next person, but I am thankful that I didn’t have one when I was a teenager. The access that people have to a world of things that people shouldn’t be exposed to is literally at someone’s fingertips. Integrity takes a lifetime to build, but only a moment to lose. We all need accountability in our lives – and as Christians, we should embrace that as well as striving to live a life above reproach.

Like it or not, each of us has influence on others, and our influence has a ripple effect. The lessons I teach my children by my life will likely be repeated in some fashion when they become parents. The people I preach to are impacted by my investment in the Word of God and by my love for Christ. The salesperson in the store that I treat poorly may see me as the church and feel a bad taste in their mouth about the church.

I don’t have to be perfect every day, nor could I ever be. However, I can draw closer to Him on a daily basis and allow Him to sanctify me. People won’t see me as perfect, but as a work in progress that loves Christ and loves people. I cannot control how people view me or react to me, but I can control what I put “out there” for them to see and how I respond to them.

Influence – like it or not, you have it. Use it wisely.

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church of Palestine, TX

From → Blog Posts

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