Bill and Hillary Clinton were on vacation back in her home state of Illinois. One afternoon they decided to go for a drive to see the countryside and some of Hillary’s “old “haunts.” After driving for a while, they stopped for gas at a tiny station in small town. One of those that still pump gas for you!
As the man walked out to help them, Hillary jumped out of the car and screamed, “Charlie! Is that you? I can’t believe it!”
The man smiled. Hugged Hillary. And they talked for a while. Finally he gave her another big hug and Hillary got back in the car.
“Honey, who was that?” Bill asked as they were driving away. “That was Charlie! He was an old boyfriend of mine. We dated for a long time,” Hillary reminisced, “ and almost got married.”
“Just think,” smirked the former President. “If you had married Charlie, today you would be the wife of a gas station attendant.”
“No,” said Hillary emphatically. “If I’ve married him, today he would have been the President of the United States!”
Influence. It’s powerful. Potent. And penetrating. Influence is the capacity to touch the lives of others. To impact their beliefs. Behavior. Or character.
In the world of business or politics we think of “influence brokers” who try to buy influence with their money. Power. Or social prestige. Yet, when undue and unfair pressure results in a favorable benefit for “the broker” the true influence of their character and integrity is diminished. Especially if “under the table deals” are revealed.
Spiritually speaking we often think of infulencers being the pastors and the preachers. Those who are spiritual Shepherds and trained in the Word to guide people Yet, we all exert influence.
None of us can disregard the issues of influence. We have all it. Either for good or ill. It impacts friends. Family. Even husbands and wives. It touches all with whom it comes in contact. And as Stephen King once observed, “We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.”
Influence really about our example. Albert Schweitzer was right when he wrote, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”
Jesus used the metaphors of “salt” and “light” to describe the positive influence of his disciples. (Matt 5:13-16)
“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 people’s feet.”
Salt Flavors. Seasons.. Preserves. Salt suggest purity. We used the expression, “He’s the salt of the earth.” R.V.G. Tasker said that disciples are “to be a moral disinfectant in a world where moral standards are low, constantly changing, or nonexistent.” Like salt, we are a positive influence corrupt world.
“You are the light of the world. A city set 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.
Think about the value of light. Light is meant to be seen. To shine. To shine brightly. To shine conspicuously. To shine constantly, To shine usefully. Light warns. Guides. Directs. Illuminates. Our influence dispels the darkness of a sinful world.
We are salt and light as we influence others with the integrity of our character. Our care, compassion and kindness for others. The love we express. The faith we embrace. And the hope we share.
Our challenge is to be to resist being conformed to the world. And our calling is to be transformed from the world, so we can exert a righteousness influence (Rom. 12:1-2). Influence is a part of our world and our relationships.
So, it might be fair to ask: Are you influencing the world? Or is the world influencing you?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman.