Over the past few months we’ve been talking about some grand ideas. Things like dreaming bigger, being authentic, being an influencer. If you are like me these things can feel overwhelming because some days I am just hoping to eat something green, get the dishes done and keep the kids from launching a mutiny over Lego ownership rights.
Some days are tough.
Then some days I can sit with God and dream big with him. I can grow with him and get excited about how he wants to use me. Some days he has a lot to show me about the ways I limit his use for me in my everyday life. Lately, one thing I am learning are the ways I limit the influence he has entrusted me with.
Those things that hold us back from being influential look a lot like those things that hold us back from using our gifts or pursuing our dreams. If I had to shortlist them to a handful they would include feelings of fear that we will appear foolish, comparing ourselves to others, insecure that we are ill-equipped, squashing God out of the picture with our need to control, or being held back by believing the scarcity abundance myth (that there is only so much to go around).
When we reflect back on those people who have been influential in our lives they probably didn’t have much in common. There was the teacher who suggested some college programs that may have led you to your career. Maybe there was a girl in your class who always asked interesting questions and made you take an interest in a new hobby which would become a skill of yours. Or a stranger on the street who handed you a card full of needed encouragement when you were having a tough time in your marriage. But they do have one thing in common, they are effective, because they are brave.
We know that we are constantly influencing one another, and we can’t escape our ability to be influencers. But are we taking the opportunity to be the influencer God calls us to be, to the people he puts around us?
I think on times when I know God was calling me to use my influence. A conversation with a family member, a gesture towards a stranger, volunteering my time and skills to an event, writing a vulnerable part of a blog post, welcoming someone who needed friendship. There were so many times I wasn’t brave. I didn’t speak up, I didn’t share, I didn’t offer. I didn’t move. I still had an influence on those around me, but I was an ineffective influencer for God.
Anywhere we have community we have the ability to be influencers. In our home, with our friends, at the workplace, in our schools, in the facebook groups we are a part of, in our social media platforms. God has placed us all together and if we go through each of the ‘circles of influence’ we have, I know I would be the first to say there are some circles I am not so effective in. I’m not effective because of so many of those struggles I listed at the beginning. I am not effective because I am not being very brave.
Influence is the long-game. It is the big picture. It is the gentleness and bravery of God in all we do. To use the way God made us with our gifts, our viewpoints, our passions, our stories, our location, and our resources is how he wants us to influence those around us. He needs us to be brave, to be trusting, to speak up and to be influencers that don’t limit themselves and limit God’s use for them.
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