I firmly believe that we ALL live our lives hoping to be an influence for good in this world.
I've never met a single person who says, "Yeah, my greatest hope is to help someone else make bad choices that will cause them to live in sorrow and regret the rest of their days!" Just haven't met such a person.
But being an influence on others is a thing of responsibility that must be weighed seriously.
That truth came home to me yesterday in a very stark way. You see, there is this amazing young woman by the name of Erika Rivera Hendricks who serves as children's pastor for a growing church in MD. (Erika and I first met five years ago while I was leading a Bible study at SEU.) Erika married Louis; moved away; had a baby; became this incredible leader; and now we do our best to keep in touch sporadically as long-distance people tend to do.
Yesterday I discovered that Erika (also a blogger) had posted her Dream Team of Influencers - Part I. And right there, after John Maxwell, Joyce Meyer and Eileen Hunter, Erika had put: Frank and Sheri Hawley. (Kimora Lee Simmons was next and having no idea who that was, I had to Google her. Smile.)
"They are a couple my husband and I both look up to," said Mrs. Hendricks.
Normally, a statement like that would elicit a humble sigh and lots of warm fuzzies. But when I read it yesterday it felt more like an indictment - maybe even a rebuke.
You see, the stresses of everyday life had been wearing on the right reverends Frank and Sheri Hawley to the point that everything had finally "hit the fan!" At that moment, we weren't good influencers; we weren't people to emulate; we weren't even a couple you'd want to BE around!! (There you have it, dear readers. We are indeed very much human. Smile.)
And as I read Erika's generous words, my heart was pierced with the importance of living everyday hoping that we will be able to look around and say, "Follow me as I follow Christ."
Of course, the real truth is this: those are perhaps the best moments for saying follow me. If we never let people close enough to know we struggle too then they have no way to connect with us.
Life is tough! I want to see someone who has walked up to the fray, put on the spiritual armor (or located it again after the enemy has knocked it off), and successfully battled through, arriving safely on the opposite side of conflict.
If your life is perfect, I'm happy for you but please don't try to tell me how to live. I want to observe people who have navigated difficulty and have come out of it choosing to smile, love, embrace joy and not bitterness.
That, to me, is the best kind of influence.
As you've probably already guessed, today I will take the challenge of Erika's words and work on making things right in my own household. And while we probably won't be at a place where "marital bliss perpetually reigns," by evening; hopefully we will be sitting together on the love seat again, knowing that we wouldn't want to be working at this marriage thing with anyone else.
Blessings as you go out to influence your world!