What Influence Do You Have on the World?

water rippleDo you have any influence on the world? You might have more than you realize. Influence is most often seen as an effect on or power over people or events (which involve people). It's not seen as passive but active. But what if the popular idea or dictionary version of influence is just one side of the coin?

As Americans we live in a free nation with certain rights and freedoms that impact our lives, those around us, our nation, and even the world around us in ways we probably don't realize. This past week I've attended an intensive training course with two-dozen or so other people. It has consumed my attention and energy. This has pushed most of my usual priorities to the side.

Over the past few decades, when I'm involved within a course or classroom, I'm the leader or teacher, not just one of the group. I had a major influence on people. Not this week. Or have I?

A popular description of leadership is influence upon others. Although I agree with that, I think it is often taken the wrong way. Influence is not just an active role of authority over others.

I believe influence is more about relationship than power. I also believe Jesus thought so too.

Phrases like "salt of the earth" and "light of the world" speak of influence through relationship. These are metaphors Jesus used to describe those who followed Him and were part of God's kingdom. (see Matthew 5:13-16)

How powerful is the influence of salt or light?

They can be very powerful influences. Have you ever eaten something with too much salt in it, or had a flashlight shined in your eyes in the darkness? Both tend to get your attention.

But how active are these things? It seems to me they are more passive than active.

The general properties of salt are as a preservative (dill pickles), a flavor agent (table salt), and for purification (think of kosher meats). Salt has other properties and uses, but these are some basic ones, especially in the timeframe of Jesus.

What about light? It enables us to see (when it's dark), it guides or provides direction (spotlights or street lights), and it also serves as a warning (like flashing lights and lighthouses). These are a few simple benefits of light, but there are many others.

Attending this course, I've wondered what my influence has been. How have I been as salt or light within the group of people with whom I've spent a week?

This is the question— How do you and I influence the world around us?

Don't get caught up thinking about politics or economics, think more local and every day. Think about people you relate to at home, your neighborhood, your workplace or at school, and even in church.

What's your influence? Don't think you don't have any? You do. It may seem passive, but it's more powerful than you realize.

My wife, Susan, and I are very different personalities. I tend to have a more active role of influence. She is more reserved. But she has great influence in the lives she touches each week and through the years.

So what's your influence on the people around you? Have you thought about it much? If not, do so.

And while you consider your own influence, leave a comment about your own influence and of those in your life.