Own Your Influence
Most of my days from around 8:00 am-6:00 pm are filled by doing life with my daughter, just the 2 of us. Bringing her alongside me while doing ordinary chores is a must if the house is going to stay anywhere near together. While I dust, she finds a rag and wipes down whatever she can reach. I unload the dishwasher and she hands me the silverware. I sing, she plays. I fold laundry and she scatters it around the floor. I make dinner and she stirs nothing in the Tupperware on the floor.
Recently she took me by surprise. As I was forcing the freshly laundered pad on her crib mattress, I felt a nudge against my leg. I looked down to find her handing me the sheet, the natural progression in bed making. My heart melted. Making the bed is a mundane task done quickly, not even worth noticing. But in that moment I recognized that of all Annabelle’s abilities, very few were taught. Most happened by observation.
This real life example of influence was the perfect follow up to Sunday night’s sermon. Incidentally, I had planned on leaving church early that night to watch the Super Bowl. As we dove deeper into the lesson I saw the irony in planning to leave early while we were learning about the importance of our actions. Matthew 18, in part, warns people of the severity of causing people to sin.
“And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!” (vs 5-7).
Woe to the man through whom they come. Sin comes through people. Completely obvious but have you ever really thought about it? You could and I could actually be the cause of someone else’s sin. Ouch! Obviously we are each accountable for our choices, but do my actions lead someone else astray? The immediate response is no, of course not. But as I examine this concept, I have to take a second look. I cannot think of many things more devastating than my actions and reactions being the reason someone does not want to become a Christian.
We have the opportunity in every encounter with others to lead them towards Christ or away from him. People notice what we say and do; someone is always watching. Needless to say, I did not leave church early that night. And no, maybe that one action wouldn’t actually lead someone astray. But maybe it would have. Maybe a child was watching and would learn just a small piece of justifying choices.
I think back to weak moments when I reacted poorly or behaved inappropriately thinking no one would see, cringing as I now realize that someone probably did see. Honestly, even times this week when my actions were less than ideal. Or maybe you have been on the other side of this equation, witnessing a “Christian” doing everything but what Christ would do. It is embarrassing and many times downright devastating.
Most of the time I do not think my daughter is really paying attention. The simple act of being handed the sheet subtly yet powerfully reminded me that she is soaking up everything around her. From my expression to the tone of my voice to the way I interact with her dad to the places we go, she takes notice. And a foundation is being laid for the woman she will become.
How is your influence, especially around children? We may never know which opportunities are missed simply because we are not being godly examples. For Christians, there is no off season; every opportunity is a big deal. Traveling to a city where no one knows you does not give you a license to act differently. Being mad does not give you the right to fly off the handle. Being alone does not give you the right for secret sin. We are accountable and responsible for so much more, for so many souls, not just our own. It’s time to take ownership.
It’s time to own your influence.