Within the past couple of weeks there was a time I was so consumed with a situation that has taken me a bit of time, understanding and yes even sympathy from my parents to overcome. Nothing huge, just a inner struggle that I couldn't shake. I am SO thankful for both my parents, but especially my Dad. He took time from his already super busy Pastor schedule to just spend some time with me. Sometimes just a hug and Him telling me, "I don't have all the answers, but I know Who does." and Whatever you want I'll get it or do for you." (What girl doesn't enjoy that!;) ) Just letting me ride with him as he did an errand with a little 'sweet treat' along the way....sometimes sweets can help mend things too! Other times just someone knowing, caring and understanding what you're feeling and thinking can make a world of difference! Without my parents I no doubt would still be struggling; God put me in the PERFECT family!
Anyways through some of this time the Lord placed something on my heart, that I kind of shoved aside, just not 'feeling' like doing anything with it. 'Feelings' shouldn't be followed when the Lord directs, but the Lord has much work to do on me yet. So tonight He brought it to my attention as I was praying and just couldn't get to sleep until I finished. So here I am!:) Just 2 simple words He placed on my heart, but still SO powerful: Influence and Influenced. These 2 words hold the outcome to so many of lifes situations: encouragement, joy, happiness, gratefulness, peace, love, hate, anger, bitterness, heartache, discouragement, rebellion, backsliding and so many more! My Dad always told us, and still tells us before we go somewhere: "Be the influence, not the influenced!" Such a small phrase, but yet so key to the outcome of good or bad. In every situation that we find ourselves, we are either the influence or we are being influenced by others around us or things we are seeing or listening to. The only difference between these 2 words other than the tense, is the word "D". This letter in my mind stands for Direct. Direct - to aim something or someone in a particular direction. You cannot be neutral, you are either being directed or directing others. This may seem like such a tiny matter, but can lead to a life full of the blessings and sweet fellowship with the Lord, or a catastrophic sin filled life. Looking at both words we can see the good and the bad with each:
Influence - the capacity to have an effect on the character, development or behavior of someone or something. This definition made me think of a little child. I'm not a Mom so the closest I can get is the kids I work with on a regular basis whether on the bus, nursery or my 3-6 yr old Sunday School Class. This made me realize more than ever that each time I am with them I am either helping to build their character or to destroy it. I have such a tiny part in how the outcome of their lives. How much more does a Mother or Father have in the life of their child! With each decision made in the childs life they are either strengthening them for the Lord, or pushing them away from the Lord.
As I have said before, each day we are influencing someone for good or bad. If you think back over today or yesterday. Who have you encouraged? Who have you brought closer to the Lord? Who have you pushed away from the Lord? There are so many questions we can and should ask ourselves. Each decision you make affects those around you. It may be just 1, or 5, or maybe even 10 people with that one either good or bad decision! Be very careful what you influence others to do. That may become the very thing that leads those close to you either away from the Lord or closer to Him. If you are responsible for leading them away, you will one day have to answer for that. When someone leaves your presence are they better than when they entered your presence? 1 Cor 15:33 "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners." Are you allowing yourself to be a tool in the devil's hand? 1 Peter 5:8 "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:" Each choice we make influences someone. That choice may seem so tiny, when in reality that may have been the very thing the Devil needed to destroy that person you influenced.
On the other side, when you are in the Word of God spending time with Him daily, and have the 'mind of Christ'. You may be the very one who influences that person to make the right decision. I pray this is you!
Who are you being influenced by to make decisions? Is it those who are just like you? Or someone who you know is more spiritual than you? Are they people you know will only give you the answer you want to hear, instead of what is right? We are influenced by so may things each day: television, radio, computer, people and the list goes on and on! You choose who to be influenced by. The company you keep is usually who you become like. It doesn't take long for people to start spending time together, before they think, act and sometimes even dress alike! Be so careful what you allow yourself to get talked into. That 'sure decision' may very well be the loose rock that sends you crashing down into the lions den! Who are you allowing to hinder you? Galatians 5:7 "Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? We all know this next verse very well. Proverbs 27:17 "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." The one who should be helping or influencing you is the one who is going to sharpen you for the Lord, not someone who is going to allow you to stay the same or even become dull and unusable for the Lord.
Pick those who you can see fruit of a walk with God as your 'friend'. Fill your time being influenced by those things that will make you grow in the Lord, and edify Him! Listen to good God honoring music, memorize scripture that will help you in this area and spend time with the GREATEST Influence - our heavenly Father! Sometimes in my own life I just need to spend time with someone I know is more spiritual than me, it just gives me more of a desire to know the Lord and not to allow the flesh that is always battling for control win. I truly need that friend who will sharpen me! When I was struggling my parents were the best influence I could have had. They sharpened me, but also showed me the great compassion that my Lord also offers to me!
I think sometimes we all need to do some investigating and cleaning out in our lives, to see just who is being allowed to influence our lives, there should really only be a few. The majority of those around us should not qualify for important decisions. Then also, who are we influencing for good? It gets so easy to go through the motions of the Christian life never realizing that each move we make, and decision we make is affecting someone else. You don't have to be a teacher, pastor, or someone in a place of service to influence someone. EVERYONE no matter who you are, YOU are influencing someone either for good or bad!