Yes, YOU! People you don’t even know are watching you, copying you, being encouraged by you, and learning from you. Everyone of us has some amount of influence on others, whether we want to or not. It might be from your blog, at your job, at your school, church, sports, even just your neighbors and family.
Here is the scary part….you can be a bad influence or a good influence! Our words and actions and behavior and even preferences in clothing and entertainment can be a motivator to others to do the same good or bad things. Stop and think for a minute. Who do you have in your sphere of influence? Who is watching you and listening to your words? Are you a parent, teacher, church leader? Be careful! Your words have power.
11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4
In racing there is a practice you may have heard, drafting. Drafting is tucking in behind someone to reduce the force of drag on your effort. So when race car drivers, cyclists, runners, and even skaters, want to save their energy, they get in a long line and the person in front is doing more work than the rest of them. In training, people will usually take turns being the leader so not only one person has to work so hard. But in a race, drafting is used strategically to win. The group of people riding together is called the peloton in cycling. For leaders, you could say that others in your peloton are drafting off you because they are not quite strong enough to lead.
What does drafting have to do with influence? If you are a blogger, someone who posts a lot on Facebook, someone who speaks up in class, someone who is known to be knowledgeable on a subject, other people are going to be drafting off of you. They are going to be tucking in and following behind you trying to learn as much as possible. If you are a Christian, this becomes a huge responsibility! There are people who are still seeking or new believers and they are looking for encouragement, wisdom, hope, and proof that being a Christian really means something. They are going to be hyper-aware if you step outside their perception of what it means to be a Christian. They may even be hoping that you will fail, unfortunately. It’s true that Christians are not perfect, just forgiven. But we can still be careful with our words and if we mess up, be sure to admit it.
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12
This realization really hit me today . I was thinking of how I have often felt no qualms about venting my frustrations with politics, people, and just whatever, on social media or in person, and how that must have really thrown off the people that were drafting on me, people who needed to gain a little advantage from my faith, my hope, my love, my peace, because they were feeling low . Instead of lifting their spirits, I may have brought them lower. I may have unknowingly discouraged someone or caused a person to have doubts about God’s power to change lives. I am so sorry for that! From now on, I will try to be the leader that God expects me to be. And I hope that you will, eek, call me out if I fail.
6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! Matthew 18
Lots of responsibility, and especially around those little ones!