Spend Your Influence
A few years ago, I remember watching “A Christmas Carol” (George C. Scott) and seeing Ebenezer Scrooge walk into his cold house. I thought what does this guy do with all of his money? I know it’s just a made up story, but how do people like him spend it? He looks miserable living in a dark, cold house and eating cold soup. Life holds other resources besides money, and if we do not carefully spend them, we can end up like Ebenezer Scrooge wasting great opportunities. One of life’s greatest resources is influence, and believers must spend it well to make a difference in someone’s life.
After moving into our first home, I read a blog by Art of Manliness called “On Being Neighborly.” The author says, “Something changes between the days of being a guy and the days of being a man. When it comes to where he lives, an immature man tends to see his neighborhood only as a place to hang his hat. But a mature man sees his neighborhood as a place he helps create.” I had moved into a neighborhood of men. From confronting speeding motorcyclists to inviting neighborhood kids to family camping trips, my neighborhood was filled with men “spending their influence” for the good of the neighborhood. Bob Frie (Arvada, CO mayor) said, if individuals committed to neighboring well, “The majority of issues that our community is facing would be eliminated or drastically reduced.” We start small: waving, smiling, getting to know names; and then go bigger: inviting to join in families’ activities (meals, sports, activities, etc.) so we can know and meet our neighbor’s needs. There is nothing explicitly Christian about this message so what’s the difference for the believer?
Motivation. God has called his people to a not-so-secret mission, “Go into all the world and make disciples.” If you have been meeting your neighborhood’s needs, you will have gained people’s respect and their ear. A greater opportunity to “spend your influence” awaits you. Don’t blow it all on one call to repentance, but develop an ongoing relationship. Let them see your family, your church, and ultimately your Savior by both your words and deeds. Understand where they are coming from by asking questions like, “Why do you think we have been put on this earth?” and then show them how God’s Word is better than any of man’s philosophies or theories. Point them to Jesus and call them to faith and repentance. Trite but true, “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Balance your challenges with invitations to live life together.
Don’t be an Ebenezer Scrooge hoarding your resources to yourself. Spend your influence and meet your Tiny Tim’s physical needs (e.g. food, friendship, time with a father figure, help around the house), but don’t stop there. Recognize his greatest need is Jesus Christ. Spend the influence you’ve earned to tell him about his need for our Savior.