Another one like you
noun: the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.
verb: have an influence on.
Influence is weird stuff. Like…how do you get it? And once you have it, what keeps you between the ditches so you don’t use influence for terrible purposes?
A number of years ago I had a bunch of little people underfoot around the house. By virtue of being a mom, I had a level of influence in the lives of the Jr. Spark and the Sparkettes. Sometimes I was shocked by the amount of influence I both had and didn’t have. My influence never seemed to overcome gravity. Towels, shoes, socks, books, bits of paper, toys, CDs, yesterday’s clothes, the day-before-that’s clothes, the clothes they tried on but never wore…once it hit the floor, gravity took over and no amount of influence (or threatening) seemed to hold any significant power over it.
And then there’s the job. I influence women all day long at da panty sto’. I try very hard to influence them in positive ways there, but some will have none of it. They speak ugliness and rejection over themselves and won’t be swayed otherwise. But then there are the ones who are convinced they can’t choose a pair of panties without my focused attention and influence in the process. I’m not sure how they handle getting dressed in the morning, because it’s not like I’m going to show up and riffle through their panty drawer with them. Although I now know that there may actually be a market for such a job…
Those are places I have influence because of a role I have. But I recognize that at times I also have influence simply because of who I am. And that’s sobering.
It was Leif Hetland I first heard say “You teach what you know, but you reproduce who you are”.
The truth is, I don’t much care what you know if it’s not also who you are.
I’m not saying that there’s not room for grace or mistakes, because that is very far from the truth. But if you teach grace because you know about it but then hide your shortcomings, refusing to live in authenticity because true grace isn’t part of the framework of who you are, then I’m pretty skeptical that you’ve got a full revelation of grace. I’m equally skeptical if you’ve been confessing the same shortcoming for the past twelve years. Grace truly is a “get out of jail free” card, but if you find after an extended time that you’re still in jail, then maybe you’ve not understood or appropriated the power of grace.
And if that’s the case, I don’t really want you to have a lot of influence over me. I can’t afford it, frankly. And if it’s true of me, I don’t want to have a lot of influence over you. The last thing I want to do is reproduce fear, captivity and bondage, inauthenticity, passiveness, judgment, or any other un-Jesus trait or habit. You’ve got plenty of other places you can get that.
I don’t know what kind of roles or positions are coming down the pike for me. I do know, however, that I want to bring my best to whatever is in front of me, for however long I’m called to it. I want who I am to ultimately be more valuable than what I do or the role I have. And when it’s time for me to move on I want my influence to reverberate long after I’m gone.
May we all leave trails of fire, light, and love.