Influence. It’s result is all around us. Its touch affects our every choice. In fact, today, I stand in a room filled with influencers. But to define influence, or even describe it, can often feel like describing an elusive presence. Originally, influence was defined as “an ethereal fluid held to flow from the star, and to affect the actions of humans.” (Webster’s). But influence is really affecting or altering through indirect or intangible means. Influence is often best recognized in retrospect. Seldom are we fully aware when we first encounter its presence.
And ultimately, we’ve all been affected by its impact. Even people of great power recognize it’s impact. Condoleza Rice, former Secretary of State for USA (in O:Oprah Magazine) has said, “Power is nothing unless you can turn it into influence.” Why do you think that is true? Well I think it’s because power is temporary—but influence can go on long after you are gone.
When I think of influencers in my life, they’ve often come when I least expected them. I remember Bobbi—she was the first Pastor’s wife Bob and I served under. She entered a room smile first—and calling their home was such a delight—her voice was always so cheerful. I determined that I wanted people to feel that same way when they called my home. Or I often think of Beverly—I have watched through the years her encounter major challenges in her life—son on drugs, Jack’s heart attack, financial bankruptcy, and the death of her husband. Through it all, I‘ve watched a woman who continued to radiate joy. In the midst of the most difficult circumstances, she never hesitated to be vulnerably real and open. And I began to see the powerful effect of letting people in to see the true reality of God at work in your life rather than putting on a mask of perfection.
Who was the most influential person in your life? Why?
Most often, those who are influential, are not necessarily people that are of great import, or wealthy, or oftentimes, even well-educated. And yet, usually within their lives is a quality that seems to set them apart, and to allow others around them to become all that they were meant to be. When you think about it, influence is a lot like the lingering scent of a fragrant perfume. After the woman walks away, it lovely aroma, sweetly reminds us of her very presence.
I believe that’s what the apostle Paul had in mind when he said,
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life….(II. Cor 2:14-16).