Your Influence is Bigger Than You Think (and What to Do With It)

When was the last time you noticed someone’s actions? When what someone did replayed in your mind long after they were gone?

I should have done that too, we might think if someone did something kind and selfless. Why would they act like that? we might think if they were hurtful.  

We often notice the actions of our family, friends, and people we look up to. I remember watching my friends do kind things and thinking, I should be more like that. Watching my mom, who always puts others first, inspires me to be selfless, too.

We also notice the actions of strangers or people we don’t know well sometimes. I remember how a coworker I barely talk to jumped straight into action when a little girl was hurt. I remember the conversation I had with an older woman at the airport. I remember the people who helped me when I was lightheaded at a football game on a hot day. 

The fact that we notice and remember what other people do implies that they, in return, notice what we do. Have you ever had someone comment on your actions? People at school have told me I’m nice before, and some of my classmates don’t swear as much around me (even though I’ve never mentioned anything about their language—they just know I’m different from them). Though most people don’t tell us outright what they think of us, they do notice how we act.

People probably notice you more than you think. It’s strange to think about. There are people I pay attention to who probably don’t know how much I notice them—so there must also be people I’m unaware of who pay attention to me. Our influence is much bigger than we think.

Everyone has an influence. 

You have an influence, even if it’s small. Think about the people you interact with on a daily basis—your family, your classmates at school, the friends you hang out with. All of those people are impacted by you because they spend time around you and most likely notice the example you set. 

I don’t mean to discourage you by saying that people notice your actions. I’m not implying that you have to be perfect or do good just because other people see what you do. Instead, I hope knowing that you have an influence will make you want to glorify Jesus and make the best impact possible. Is what you say Christ-honoring? Are your actions pointing to Jesus? Do you live to serve Him?

At school, I can often tell if someone is a Christian by what they talk about, the words they use, and even their clothing choices. People will know you are a Christian by the way you talk, act, and the decisions you make. We are molded partially by who we hang out with and look up to—and I can almost guarantee there is someone who looks up to you or is at least influenced by you. Some of the people who are influenced by us are our classmates. 

Four ways we can positively influence our classmates.  

Prayer is powerful. James 5:13-18 shows the impact of prayer. Specifically, James 5:16 says the prayer of a righteous person has great power. Christians are righteous because of Jesus’ sacrifice, and therefore, our prayers have an impact. When we pray for our classmates, God hears us and will answer us. 

Not only do our prayers have great power, but praying for a classmate can also help us care more about them. When we pray for someone, we usually ask God to bless them and draw them to Him (or something along those lines). It’s hard not to care for someone and love someone better after praying for their well-being. 

Application: Write down the names of 2 people from school you will pray for. 

Truth is impactful. We can use our influence at school to share truth with others. Though this can be sharing the gospel with people, it can also take many other forms. As mentioned later in this post, we can share truth by setting an example based on what we believe. We can share truth in small ways, too. In his article, Stott says we can share truth even by talking about something like the importance of rest, since the need for rest is something we know because of God’s word. 

To share truth with others, we first need to know truth. That means we need to be familiar with God’s word and rely on Him for our standard of what is good and right rather than what we see and hear around us. 

Application: Spend time in the truth of God’s word. 

An example of what truth looks like can be just as impactful as truth itself. Because Christians believe the Bible, we live differently. People notice when we are kind, loving, and welcoming. When we complete our school work honestly. When we are friendly and live with integrity despite what those around us are doing. 

The way Christians speak and act is unique—we don’t gossip about people, don’t swear, and put others before ourselves. We want people to look to Jesus because of the Christlike way we act. Matthew 5:16 says, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” We do not do good works only so that others can see them, but we want our good works to point those who see them to God. When people see how Christians act, they may be curious about the purity and goodness our actions show. 

Application: Be an example of what Christ looks like in school this week. 

Dedicated believers follow Jesus even when it is hard. We should strive to live for Jesus at school on the bad days as well as the good ones, even when it makes us different from other people. We shouldn’t back down from our beliefs or when we face a challenge to the faith. 

All of us, myself included, tend to get distracted by worldly things, though God matters much more than the other things that preoccupy us. We need to focus on Jesus despite the distractions around us and, once we are focused on Him, be dedicated to obey Him even when we are scared. 

Application: Do that thing you’ve been scared to do; that thing Jesus is calling you to but you’re hesitating to obey.

The question isn’t whether or not Christians have an influence, but what we are doing with it. People notice others and are molded by who they hang out with. You influence those around you. Are the people who are influenced by you pointed to Jesus?

2 responses to “Your Influence is Bigger Than You Think (and What to Do With It)”

  1. Oh man. Thank you *so* much for this post. I needed this today.

    Liked by 1 person

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