August, 2019 – Influence

August, 2019 – Influence

August is the month of my birth.  Yup – I was an ‘August baby’.  Nearly every birthday after I was a grown up, my mother would tell me, ‘how I suffered with you’ (giving birth)!  I’m thinking that it was one of those terribly hot August dawg-days – and I’m sure with no air conditioning, it was brutal.  But really, Mum?!  She would say, though, that I was ‘awfully cute’.  I’ll take that.

But I’ve done some reflecting on the people who have influenced my life for better, or for worse.  Of course my parents were the first to influence me.  Their love for, and devotion to the Lord had a great effect on me – and their giving hearts.  Daddy used to say that ‘Mum couldn’t wait for them to get their paychecks so that she could give it all away’.  And this was from people who lived from paycheck to paycheck.  What a wonderful legacy and example to leave their children.

When I was five years old growing up in Maine, there was a missionary to Costa Rica who visited our area – who deeply influenced me – and whose life I wanted to duplicate one day.  Without realizing it – I was only a child – that was the Holy Spirit through this gentleman calling me to missions (both home and abroad).

Then, I had financially well-off, worldly relatives who influenced me to want things.  And it was the same with some friends.  I had a wonderful teacher in high school who strove to bring me to my full potential as a person.  I will forever be grateful for her.

Then, there was a girl a year older than I whom I met after the eleventh grade.  Her name was Margo.  I had been blessed to be chosen to be our high school’s Girl State delegate, so got to spend a week studying government at Colby College.  It was there that I met Margo.  She was the definition of ‘cool’ – as cool as it got!  She was so cool that she had been invited back the year after she was a delegate to be one of only ten junior counselors.  I wanted to look like her – sing like her – even have facial expressions like her.  Did she ever influence me!  (By the way, the year after I was a delegate, I was invited back to be a junior counselor.  And, I’m SO not cool – never was.  I began to think that maybe Margo wasn’t so super cool.  Maybe she was just a regular kid like I was.  I don’t know.  The jury is still out on that one.)

During college years, I was even more impacted by a popular Broadway singer.  Ooooo, if I could just look like her, sing like her, find stardom, live her life . . .   A few of us were in NYC at one time, and we even went and found the restaurant where we knew this ‘star’ was dining.  It was several years later that it occurred to me, ‘why on earth was I idolizing this person who was living an all-around life about as opposite as could be of what God’s plan was for me’?

We are influenced by doctors, lawyers, politicians, pastors, teachers, actors, the news media – and the list goes on and on.  We are influenced so many, many  times every day and most of the time, not even aware of it.  And, then, to everyone we meet, we do the influencing.  Therein, lies my concern.  (That’s another whole topic.)  How do I leave others when I have been with them?  Negatively, lovingly, caringly, confused, helpful?  I’m working on it.

I read about an interesting character in the Bible lately – Joash, the seven year-old boy-king of Judah.  His grandmother, Athaliah was perhaps one of the most evil people to ever have lived. Talk about having to grow up under her impact!  But upon becoming king, this child was under the influence of the godly priest, Jehoiada. And it worked.  If you remember the story, King Joash, from a child in II Chronicles 24.2 ‘did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest’.  Not all the days of his own life, but of Jehoiada’s life.  I’m thinking that Joash was not rooted in a deep and personal relationship with the Lord, and early influence began to permeate his thoughts.  He more or less followed influencers.

I was always a bit of a follower, and from what has been written already, you can see that I was deeply affected by both righteous and not so righteous people.  The Scripture tells us in Deuteronomy 13 to not listen to those who would tell us to do wrong; rather to pretty much avoid them and listen to the Lord our God.  Ruth and Naomi had great influence on each other with encouraging hearts.  In the New Testament, Timothy had the great privilege of sitting under the godly influence of Paul the apostle.   So many influencers for the good in Scripture – Moses, Joshua, David, Job, Daniel, Paul, Barnabas.

I have had many in my life for whom I am so grateful – who affected/impacted/influenced me for the better.  But the greatest Influencer from Whom I seek wisdom – and talk daily to is Jesus Christ.  He is THE Way, Truth and Life.  No wrong can be found in or with Him.  No misguided steps or anything to regret will ever be known living a life of obedience in Him.  Only when I ignore or just plum don’t listen to Him do I take any missteps.  We need to think so carefully who it is daily that has the power of influence over us.  I so want the power of Philippians 4.8 to be my impact.