Influence can be a tricky word. An idea that a singular person or group can have or maintain any level of influence over another is both exhilarating and terrifying. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines influence as “the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or tangible ways.”
What does this level of power mean for us as Christians both in the infrastructure of the church family and leadership, as well as, our influence to those outside of our church walls? We’re aware of the capacity at which our thoughts, conversations, testimonies, and even social media posts can have on those in our direct line of the social structure. But can we discuss the impact on those who are watching our lives through the looking glass? And what about being an influence when caught in the crossfires of scandal? How are we supposed to be a positive influence under horrible circumstances when the last thing we want is all eyes on us when in-the-midst of our trials and vulnerability?
Often, we believe as Christians that if we have some form of blemish on our record that our sphere of influence is null and void. Perhaps we think we aren’t good enough, we carry some shame or disappointment and in turn, can’t possibly imagine being the kind of influence those around us in the church pew on Sunday would look to as an example. This course of thinking is a by-product of the shame we carry even within our Christian culture and is less than truthful in all circumstances. It’s time that we realize that our failures and our setbacks, even our shame can be used as positive influencers of the Gospel within our deepest, darkest moments.
Whether our finances are failing, our relationships are suffering, or our churches are struggling with scandal, it’s in these very moments that we ought to look each other in the eye, declare God’s grace to ourselves and each other, step onto the battlefield of faith both in public and private and move forward into the fight, knowing full well that in the end the war has already been won. These are the moments of influence that say to our brothers and sisters in Christ “This is so hard, we are broken, here is our trial, but our God is still in control. He will remain Sovereign, and together we will chase after Him and His Truth for the Glory and benefit of His kingdom.” In the darkest hours, that’s when the opportunity for the most significant influence happens.
When it feels like no one is watching, I can assure you they are. And in the struggle, when it feels like you have nothing left to give, keep giving it all to God and let him use the broken roads, the disappointments, and the trials as examples to others that even in the worst of situations, we serve a mighty God who remains on the throne. He will never leave us or forsake us, and within the fire, there is great refining and restoration to be done. Let’s use our struggles honestly, not as burdens to sweep under the rug for another day, but instead as the pinnacle of influence to those around us. Let’s make people wonder how we get through our tests, and when they ask? We can be the ones to point them to the One who saw us through it all.