What comes to mind when you think of the world "influence" or "influencer"? If you're anything like me, you probably think of a few different things...Maybe you think of Instagram influencers / people that have a lot of followers on their social medias. People that have a big voice and a big reach!Or maybe you think of someone in your life, maybe someone a lot older, who has gone through a lot of stuff and has lots to say about life. Someone very dear to me brought this blog post idea up a week ago. He said, "Have you ever thought about writing a blog post about the word 'influence'? Because you know, we all have influence."That really hit me.Whether you realize it or not, you have influence. Maybe you don't have a 200,000 followers like that one blogger on Instagram, but you do have an influence.
** Take a second and think about YOUR life. Do you have relationships? Do you talk to people? Do you hang out around people? Do they see how you live, what you say and what you do? **Everyone of us can answer "yes" to that question. As an influence in someone's life, you have an effect on them. The words you say are noticed. The things that you do -- the things that you comment -- the pictures that you post -- the reactions that you have -- have an impact in other peoples lives.Ever since I started blogging six months ago (WHOA TIME FLIES), I have had to confront this question in my life.
"What does it mean to be a Christian with influence?"
I've had to ask myself what life should look like as someone following Jesus. Again -- you don't have to be a blogger or someone with an active social media presence to be an influence. YOU ARE. In whatever situations God has placed you in. So let me ask you this: What are you going to do with your influence? Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that we have the power of "life and death" in what we say. Simiarily, we have the power to bring life or death in what we do and how we extend our influence.Sobering thought, huh? I can look back and remember times when I did not use my influence in peoples lives for life -- instead, I used it for death. I used my influence to judge, hurt or carry out selfish desires. Those are instances where I did not use my influence how Jesus wants me to use it...
Maybe you're wondering: "Okay Tara, I get it. I have influence. And as a Christian, I should use my influence for Jesus. BUT HOW?!"Take a look at Matthew 5:13-16 with me. "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under peoples feet. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." I don't know any other verse in the Bible that summarizes influence Jesus' way better than this one!If you love Jesus and have committed to live for Him, you ARE salt. You ARE light. This is your call — this is what your influence should be modeled after!
A few definitions...
Salt: used in Jesus' day to preserve and season
Light: a beacon that penetrates and illuminates the darkness, a living testimony
True, worthwhile influence for Jesus is summed up in these two terms: We are commissioned to "season" the world with our influence. God challenges us to get into the world and spread His kindgom. He wants us to be lights, penetrating the darkness and point back as blinking beacons to the glory of our Father!Jesus tells His disciples in verse 15 that no one lights a lamp and puts it under a desk. If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, He has lit you as His lamp! And the last thing He wants you to do is hide under a desk. The last thing He wants you to do is be worthless and let your light blow out.
You were made for more.
I can never stress this enough. You were made to do more than just sit back and watch the action unfold around you. Whether you believe it or not, you have an influence. We ALL have an influence — whether we are a Christian are not.So now we're faced with another question: How can I live my influence out?
This is something that I would encourage you to pray about. You know that you are called to be salt and light — you know that you are called to use your God-given reach to point back to Him. You know that the most worthwhile and lasting influence will always be promoting Jesus. But at the end of the day, your amount of Instagram followers will mean SQUAT if you don't use your influence for good — if you do not use your influence for Jesus. Using your voice and your actions and your words will be empty unless they are for Jesus and for His glory.To close... I'd like to offer a few suggestions of practical things you can do to be a "blinking beacon" that points back to Jesus — how you can use your influence in your life.
1. Be conscious of what you say, how you act and even what you post.
There are always people watching. Does your actions and words line up with someone who is striving to be like Jesus? Think first before speaking, doing and posting.
2. When faced with a decision to play it safe, or go the extra mile — go the extra mile.
There will be choices in your day to day life that you're faced with: whether or not to get out of your comfort zone and be salt and light — or stay home and do nothing. Remember why you have been called by Jesus to be His salt and light and what you're supposed to do.
3. Spend time with Jesus in the Word, in prayer and with other believers.
The more you know Jesus, the more you will shine for Him.