Do You Realise Your Influence?
We were talking recently in our home Bible study group about our mission to know God and make Him known. But we often miss the fact that our biggest influence is not at work, or with our friends, but at home. If your family are not Christians you have a better opportunity than anyone else to witness to them just by your life. If you have children, your influence on who they become will probably be greater than anyone else’s will ever be.
Here are some thoughts on our potential for influence just as ordinary Christians with a small circle of people around us:
You Can Live So People Will Miss You
Robert Murray M’Cheyne was known for saying often, “Live so as to be missed.” If our lives are influencing others by our love for God and for others, then when we leave this life hopefully people will miss us.
Here is another great quote which I have modernised slightly:
‘Be useful where you live, that they may both want and wish for you to be around. Find out people’s desires and wishes and meet them there. All worldly joys grow dim beside the one joy of doing kind things.’ G. Herbert
Just in our homes we can live in such a way, being kind to those around us, that they love and want us to be there, and miss us when we’re gone. Recently my husband preached about living so as to be missed and I didn’t feel at all sure that I would be missed! But then just a few days later I went away for a retreat and the last picture in my mind before I left was of my three children all gathered around me talking at once and saying, “I’ll miss you!” As I drove away I realised that though my sphere of influence is quite small since I’m at home a lot of the time, I am at least living to be missed by my kids.
You Can Make It Like Heaven Around You
In our sinful, dark and often discouraging world, we can make a little heaven around us. I never thought of this till I read this quote below:
‘Let the weakest, let the humblest remember, that in his daily course he can, if he will, shed around him almost a heaven. Kindly words, sympathizing attentions, watchfulness against wounding men’s sensitiveness, – these cost very little, but they are priceless in their value.’ F. W. Robertson
But it makes total sense – we are supposed to be a light to the world as Christians:
‘You are the light of the world… let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven’ Matthew 5:16
You Can Affect People for Good or Evil
I will always remember how in university one of my friends told me that she felt sometimes like the devil was sitting on one of her shoulders and I was sitting on the other lol! I don’t think I was very vocal about anything – I just lived my life as a Christian the best I could. But I guess to her I was almost like a conscience to influence her to do the right thing as opposed to the devil trying to get her to do the opposite!
In a similar but opposite way we can influence people to do evil very easily too: ‘A little leaven leavens the lump’ (1 Cor 5:6). Just as only a very small amount of yeast is needed to go through the whole loaf and make the bread rise, just a small amount of sin can spread to others around it.
We can also ruin people’s day or make their day by our attitudes and words. One irritating person can make you not want to go somewhere because they are so hard to be with. One joyful and encouraging person can make you want to go there because you know you’ll be uplifted.
You can Encourage People Just By Your Life
Lastly, you don’t just influence people who you are around at the time. I am often encouraged by just thinking of certain people. For example when I think of these different people I see:
- Someone who sacrificed to go to the mission field and serve God
- Someone who is faithful – always there, always doing the same job well
- Someone who always has a smile and a sense of humour, no matter what else is going on
When I am feeling discouraged they just need to pop up in my head and I get instant encouragement! Wouldn’t you like to be an instant encourager like that? J
So how do we do all this? Well really, I think just living the life that God wants us to – loving Him and loving others – will make us into that light on the hill that cannot be hidden. But as you do it, realise your influence on those around you – as it might encourage you to do it even better!