Monday, February 22, 2016

Ripples of Influence

File:Constructive interference.jpg
Photo courtesy of Scott Robinson via Creative Commons
Do you ever stop to think about your influence on the people around you? 

This past weekend, Mr. Marvelous and I were out and I remembered a couple of things that we needed to pick up at Walmart.  He was not thrilled with the idea, but being marvelous, he agreed to stop.  Watching peoples' faces was interesting.  Sad, but also interesting.  There were so many unhappy people there that evening.  So many impatient people.  So many angry people.  A few who seemed a bit out of touch.  I was almost run over, glared at, huffed at, and bumped into more times than I would care to remember.  I found myself not wanting to make eye contact with anyone; that head-down-get-'er-done-and-get-OUT mode.  Then I rounded a corner (very cautiously) just as a gentleman was trying to enter the aisle I was trying to exit.  I apologized.  He smiled.  He said, "I'm sorry; that was my fault". 

Just that one smile and those six kind words changed my perspective.  It encouraged me to extend the grace of a smile.  It reminded me of the small cost of a smile and a few kind words.  It reminded me of what a difference those simple things can make to someone else.  I was able to smile through the rest of my trip that evening.  I was able to chat with the cashier, express interest in her and how her evening was going.  As we finished the transaction I was able to genuinely tell her that she would be in my prayers that evening.  All because that one gentleman offered a smile and six kind words.

Do you ever stop to think about your influence on the people who are watching you?  Not the people you know, but the people whom you will never meet who are watching you from across the room?

There was another trip I made to another store recently.  Again, people in the store did not seem happy to be there.  There was a high level of annoyance and irritability, and a low level of civility and kindness.  I witnessed a man stop to open the door for a lady and smile.  I saw it change her demeanor from fatigue and unhappiness to a heart-felt smile.  That man did not directly do anything for me; I did not know him or the lady he helped.  But his actions changed my evening, even though they were not directed toward me.

We have so many opportunities to influence people.  I believe that our greatest influence happens when we don't even realize we are being given the opportunity.   Christian, we are being watched.  There are people in our realm of influence to whom we will never have the privilege of speaking.  The occasion to tell them about Jesus with our words will never happen.  Yet we do have the opportunity ~ the responsibility ~ to show Jesus through our actions, the way we treat the people we casually happen upon at the store, the way we speak to telemarketers on the phone, or just through our demeanor. 

Our actions, our attitude, the way we carry ourselves, influences people.  The ripples of influence extend far, far beyond what we expect.  Christians are people who are like Jesus.  We are surrendered to Him.  His grace overwhelms our nature.  We become gracious people. 

Remember today that your character affects your family, your friends, your casual acquaintances, and the many people who are watching you from across the crowded room.  The affect of your grace then goes out to influence their families, their friends, their casual acquaintances, and the many people watching them from across the room. 

May our ripples extend around the world.  May we have the privilege of being that unseen influence that brings glory to God.  May He be pleased with our influence today!

His peace to your homes.

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