Tomorrow is Mother’s Day! I am always grateful for the fact that we set aside days of the year to specifically honor and celebrate valuable parts of our life, faith, and community. As I sit and prepare myself to honor my own mother and mother-in-law this weekend, I try to gather the words to describe my feelings for how they have influenced my life.
Influence is a powerful thing. I believe the desire and capacity to have influence is a part of our heritage as humans. There is something universal in recognizing the desire to help, do something worthwhile, or make a change for the better. The slippery slope is when we begin to equate the amount of influence we have as the amount of value we have: if we have more influence we are more valuable. I believe the Lord thinks differently. He values us as His children. After creating Adam and Eve, God said it is “very good.” We people are the only portion of creation to receive this additional emphasis. Everything else, light, water, sky, animals, the sun and stars, we all called “good.” The crazy thing is, God called us “very good” without Adam or Eve actually stepping into their calling to influence this world. He loved them and approved of them because He made them, not because they had a massive influence on the cultivation of the plants or the naming of the animals.
None of what you just read is the point of this writing effort, but I genuinely believe we cannot hear that enough. So there it is.
Influence is a powerful thing. It’s powerful because there are people whose actions and words have had a great influence on the way I think and behave and I can guarantee that they have no clue of that influence on me. The ability to have an effect on another person can be negative or positive, known or unknown. Proverbs 13:20 reads “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” I have done some pretty dumb things at the prompting of other immature people. Gratefully I’ve lived to tell about it! I hope to become one of the wise and not the fool in this proverb. The way to become one of the wise is to recognize, honor, and gather your influence from the right people.
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Recognizing positive influencers, or wise influencers is a matter of fruit and character. You will know a person’s character by watching their reactions over time in different situations. You will see a person’s fruit as the results of their effort. Sometimes, we are fooled by shiny, temporary results that are actually unhealthy fruit that takes time to reveal itself as shallow or fabricated. Be careful to not be impressed primarily by things like wealth, physical appearances, or physical talents.
Honoring influence simply means dedicating importance to that person’s behavior or words. The examples set by those you recognize as your influence is worthy of study or replication. Another step could even be giving recognition and gratitude for that person being a wise or loving example in your life. (ie: mother’s day, recognizing mom’s; some of the greatest influencers out there!)
Gathering influence sounds a bit creepy. Like storing all these amazing wise examples of humanity in my backyard or something. But really it is a phrase of proximity. If I want to be positively influenced by people I’ve recognized within my world, I need to get in places where I can hear them, witness their example, and learn from them. This could be as simple as following a podcast, to as intimate as asking for a conversation over coffee.
Ask yourself: are you influenced by the wise or the fools? And then, those who hear and see you, are they being influenced by the wise? Or a fool? Say thank you to a mom, any mom this weekend. Honor an influencer you see loving well today.