Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Power of Influence

Did you know that being an Influencer is actually considered a job title?  Everywhere I look there are people influencing others with their opinions or direct experiences to either purchase something, use something, go somewhere, etc.  

If we are honest we all want to be considered an influencer, whether we get paid for it or not.  Something within our souls inherently wants to make an impact in some way.  I think that this can be a very good and positive thing but can it become dangerous?

The Lord has really been working in my heart on the subject of influence and honestly, I've really been trying to avoid writing on the subject.  It feels like an uncomfortable space because I know people personally who take their role as an influencer very seriously.  Trust me when I say that it is not my intention to offend anyone that is in that space but rather the Lord wants me to put a challenge out there.

With so many things competing for our attention these days, and the plethora of products available, how do we gauge truth vs advertising and align it with our own personal lives or convictions?

For me, I use facebook, I am active on instagram and I pay attention to the things I follow, the people I follow and the items they promote.  Most importantly though, before taking their opinion or recommendation, I review where their own influences come from.  Transparency and humility are the two most important authenticators for me.

For those of us that want to make an impact, I challenge you today with a simple thought, while you are hoping to impact others, what are you allowing to impact you?

All of my life, my goal has been to honor God in all that I do.  I want to INFLUENCE people toward faith.  In my actions, in my speech and in the way I live my life.  There are many times that I fall incredibly short of this goal but I take courage in knowing that God knows me and loves me, flaws and all.  Nonetheless, I have been caught in seasons where other things become idols and take precedence when they should not.  I've made an idol of money, I've made an idol of planning and control, I've made an idol of beauty, the list could go on and on.  I get it, I've been there with all of it.

My friends, today is not meant to be a criticism but rather a challenge.  When others see you and take your recommendations, are you also allowing them the privilege of seeing what is impacting your life?  Or, may I ask, are they seeing something else take precedence over the things that should influence YOU the most?  

For those of us that want to make an influence, ultimately, what are we pointing to?  If it is not something that we believe in wholeheartedly, something that encourages, builds up, or something we aspire for in our very own life, I pray we can re-evaluate our motives and our idols, to rediscover our alignment and our purpose.  For those of us that are Christians, at the end of the day, do we point to Jesus or not?

1 Thessalonians 2:4 For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News.  Our purpose is to please God, not people.  He alone examines the motives of our hearts.  

1 Corinthians 2:3 I came to you in weakness--timid and trembling.  And my message and my preaching were very plain.  Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit.  I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.  

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Importance of Community

Over the last year I would say that an integral part of my faith walk involved the counsel of other people.  There were people such as my pastor that challenge me and help me in a corporate setting, as well as the rest of my church but I am also referring people that have the same core beliefs as me, their own relationship with the Lord and people that I know live out their beliefs on a day-to-day basis.

We all have people in our life, whether you call them your tribe, your community, your crew, etc.  We have friends, spouses, bosses, co-workers, pastors, mentors and people who are in various life stages that we can go to and talk to about life.  This past year, the community of people surrounding me and speaking into my life on a weekly basis changed a bit.  The Lord gave me an opportunity to work directly with the Pastoral staff of my church and it was such an incredible growing experience.  Being able to work with and have regular life conversations with people whose main goal in life is to point others to the Lord provides incredible perspective.  Talk about people that help you keep the main thing, the main thing, Jesus. 

I have also been surrounded by a team of people within my job and social life that are actively pursuing the callings and passions that the Lord has placed in their lives.  These people not only inspire me, but they also indirectly and often directly motivate me to continue on the best path of obedience to God's calling on my life, even though at times, it does not have a pre-prescribed path. 

Lately, I have wondered where I would be in my faith journey without these people. Everyone in every type of community has those people that push them to strive for more, strive for their best, and grow in the process.  My people not only encourage me and support me during moments of doubt, uncertainty, frustration, even sometimes defeat, they help to grow me. 

At this point, I am going to speak directly to the people that are interested in growing their faith, growing their trust in the Lord and being more obedient to God's plan for their lives.  Do you have people in your life that according to your own standards have a stronger faith than you?  More connection with the Lord or that emulate a connection with the Holy Spirit that inspires you?  If not, look for some!  I for one know that I love talking and speaking with people about my faith.  I love getting questions, even though I may not have answers.  I love encouraging people to be more of Him and less of them.  It helps me model and walk in that same lifestyle. 

I have a handful of people in my life that allow me to not only approach them in humility when I am lacking understanding or guidance but that also challenge me or speak things into my life that I know are not from them but the Holy Spirit.  This provides me spiritual insight and accountability to God's word.

Fair warning, before you go and find people to speak into your life, make sure they are willing to speak the right things into your life.  These should be people who for no other reason than encouraging you to be the very best version of yourself, or who God has molded you to be, have no personal gain from your growth and no alternate agenda.  It is easy to be wooed by others but make sure you pray through taking counsel from others who you do not fully know yet. 

I write this to say that growth can take place in community and in the right relationships.  If you feel that you are missing something, strike up a conversation with someone or reach out to someone you trust for support and counsel.  If you are unclear as to who that should be, pray through it first. 

I am grateful for the growth that the Lord has brought into my life through relationship with other believers and those people in my life who challenge me to step into the callings on my life.  Trust that the Lord will provide you the community and people you need to grow closer to Him.  He is faithful.

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. 

Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Hebrews 13:7 Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.