"It takes tremendous discipline to control the influence, the power you have over other people's lives." ~Clint Eastwood.
Where does life take you in the span of one week? How many different people do you talk to within those seven days? Your influence extends in many directions in the course of a week. Think about how many people cross your path in these places: work, school, church, home, gas station, grocery store, restaurant, library, park, bank, movies, mall. That's a lot of ground to cover. Even if you only show up at half of those places in a normal week, you come in contact with lots of people. Some or those interactions are short, maybe only a nod, wave, or smalltalk, while others are more meaningful. Either way, we have many opportunities to influence others for Christ. We aren't making the most of these opportunities if we aren't international with our interactions and relationships. Whether we're referring to more acquaintance-like relationships, closest friends, and everyone in between, authenticity requires a permanent awareness of the influence we have and the responsibility we have to use that influence wisely.
Above all, our primary purpose here is to lead others to Christ. We must use our opportunities to influence carefully in order to lead others to Him. We must be intentional with these relationships! There is no greater explanation of our purpose than Christ's Great Commission:
"Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you;
and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?"
We are here to be different; we weren't called to blend in. A note in my Bible says that Christians are losing their separateness. We've got to reverse that. We must be different so that we can intentionally influence those people God has put in our lives.
"Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, and purity." ~1Timothy 4:12
This was the champion verse for youth groups everywhere for a long time, simply because youth is mentioned. As nice as that sounds, it applies to us at any age. We are to be examples to the believers in words, conduct, love, spirit, faith, and purity. That just about covers everything, huh? The point here is that we are to be conscious about influence. Our examples reach further than we know.
"And these words which I command to you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." ~Deuteronomy 6:6-7
As a mom, this verse speaks to me so strongly. Will I ever have greater influence on anyone than my children? What a blessing, honor, and privilege to shape these children of God! However, if you're not a parent, this verse still has substance. Simply replace children with coworkers, classmates, family members, friends, etc. It still applies. We are to show all around us the importance of loving God more than anything else. We are commanded to teach it diligently, when we are talking, resting, traveling to and from, when we go to sleep, and when we wake. We are to teach, and thereby influence, others with each chance we get.
"For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God."
~2 Corinthians 2:15-17
There's a saying that's gaining popularity among church signs these days. It says that you may be the only Bible that some will read. Second Corinthians 2 tells us that we are the very aroma of Christ; now that's some serious influence! We've got to be intentional with our influence because of this very thing. Who we are in our relationships with others reflects the very God that we serve. Like it or not, your influence matters. People are watching and reading God's Word through your life every single day. Sure, that's a huge responsibility, but aren't you just a little excited to think that God trusts you with His very reputation?
So, the authenticity challenge today is to be intentional with your relationships and your interactions. Use your many points of influence to make a difference in the lives of others. Use your influence to "go therefore and make disciples..." Use your influence to teach and reach. Be intentional with each relationship, encounter, and opportunity.