“Man’s greatest power is his ability to influence others.” – Leslie Hardin
Sometimes we think we’re powerless because we’re “ordinary” or don’t have the ability or access to influence the masses like a president, the Pope, or a CEO of a highly successful company; but even the least of us have the ability to influence others. Want proof? Look at the apostles. Some of the apostles were fishermen and one was likely a tax collector (See “Who were the Twelve Disciples?” on Bibleinfo.com). Fishermen were considered by many people of the day to be lowly and ordinary, and tax collectors were loathed by their communities. Status, fame, and fortune are not necessary ingredients for impacting people. You have the power to not only impact the people in your immediate circles, but you can also impact people around the world thanks to technology like blogs, other forms of social media, etc.
Below are a couple of personal stories to illustrate the power of “ordinary” positive and negative influence:
Story 1 –
I’ve wanted to be a missionary since I was twelve years old, and I remember allowing someone else to snuff out the burning desire to fulfill such a calling. His words were harsh and left an impression on me. “You can’t be a missionary. Only men can fulfill that role,” he said firmly. I outwardly disagreed with him, but I lost interest in pursuing my dream for several years because the passion of his words stung.
When I think upon that memory, I realize something even more profound than what was right or wrong with the man’s statement — I subconsciously allowed him to influenced my decisions. Now that I’m older, his words remind me to think about the words I speak to other people. Am I encouraging or discouraging someone who trusts my opinions? Am I speaking truth? Is there a hidden motive when I provide council to others?
Story 2 –
Recently, a good friend of mine watched in horror as a little boy on his bicycle slid sharply down a hill and plowed into a hedge, scraping his feet and legs. When it was obvious no one else in the neighborhood would help, my friend intervened, scooped him up, and carried him back to his house.
After helping the child, she realized the importance of caring for the neighborhood kids and releasing compassion and love on the people living around her. The boy’s accident opened her eyes to the need to build a community and turn strangers into friends. As a result, she plans to hold block parties to learn about her neighbors. She also plans to meet the boy’s mother and be involved in the child’s life if she allows it.
My greatest hope is the little boy will never forget the kind-hearted woman who showed compassion and carried him home when no one else came to his rescue. Perhaps one day when he grows up, he’ll show similar compassion to someone in need. After all, there’s no greater influencer than someone who is willing to experience inconvenience, personal sacrifice, or suffer for the sincere desire to serve others. My friend may have considered her gesture insignificant, but sometimes we never truly know the depth of imprints we leave on other people’s hearts.
Over and over again, I’m reminded of the power we have to influence people. The words we speak and the actions we take can encourage, empower, and bring truth, love, or mercy; however, we can also bring condemnation, lies, hate, and judgment. It’s our choice on how we choose to release words over people and show the love of Christ. How will you influence others?