<<power, persuade>>

Influence is the compelling force that affects or brings about change without directly forcing this to happen. This power can take many different forms, from the subtle pressure of suggestion, incentives and rewards, to bribes used to blackmail, the threat of physical violence and the very real peer pressure, especially on teenagers. Leaders and role models exert this unseen force on those who look up to them, hopefully to their advantage.

Prior to entering the Promised Land, all 12 spies saw the same things; 10 said it was too hard to conquer while two said it could be accomplished (Num 13:26-14:9). The negative report of the 10 spies influenced the

Whose influence do I come under?

Israelites not to proceed – negative opinions often persuade the undecided to draw back and not to venture forth in faith.  We either inspire faith and possibility into people or else transmit defeat and negative attitudes. What influence do we have on others?

Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong (Ex 23:2). Bad company corrupts good character, just as a little yeast permeates the flour or a little rottenness can taint a huge amount of pleasant-tasting food, it takes just a little corruption to ruin by its insidious influence (1 Cor 15:33; Gal 5:9). Because of the bias towards sin in humanity there is a tendency to yield when tempted; this is true even with Christians who, instead of ‘reckoning their bodies dead to sin and alive to Christ’, slip when tempted (Rom 6:6,11-14). Establish definite boundaries beyond which you will not allow yourself to be coerced, aware it is also a serious offence if we influence or cause others to sin (Lk 17:1-3; 1 Cor 10:32).

If you walk with the wise you will grow wise, while being with certain uplifting people can refresh our spirits (Prov 13:20; 1 Cor 16:18). Body language, along with words and actions, can have a powerful influence on others. Negative comments bring discouragement and can be very damaging, while encouraging words uplift and work wonders by comparison. Hence we should encourage, comfort and urge each other to live for God by showing love and doing good works (1 Thes 2:11,12; Heb 10:24).

The Bible instructs to train up a child in the way they should go and when they are older, they will not depart from it (Prov 22:6). While this is not a watertight promise, it shows the power of influence to create and instill lifestyle choices in young impressionable lives.

Who do I influence for good?

The rudder and tongue are both small in comparison to what they ‘control’, for they exert tremendous influence vastly out of proportion to their size (Jas 3:2-6). We are constantly bombarded with information and opinions from a variety of sources that influence our thoughts, motivation and behaviour so we become like what we give ourselves to, be it godliness or evil. The situations and events of life also influence how we feel and therefore react, especially if we are walking in the natural flesh rather than in the Spirit.

Jesus said, as Christians we should be like salt, being a good influence on those around us or else we are being tainted by their evil ways (Mt 5:13). Pray that you will have such life-changing encounters with the Lord that you freely and openly share with others in a winsome and natural way what He has done for you, thus creating within them a desire to ‘come, taste and see that the Lord is good’ (Ps 34:8, 126:3; Jn 4:29). Jesus would say to us too, “Go…tell how much the Lord has done for you” (Lk 8:39). There is tremendous power in sharing our up-to-date testimony of the Lord’s goodness and intervention in our lives, in the little everyday things as well as the major events. Endeavour to always have a word from the Lord you can share (a gem of truth to challenge or encourage) not in a ‘hyped up to impress’ manner, rather as a natural topic of conversation to bring glory to God. If we live in isolation we can neither receive from others nor speak into their lives. People of influence do not sit quietly waiting

for the world to change; they take the initiative and bring change. They don’t idly talk about what should be done, they get on and do it. As believers we should be affecting society, not the reverse.

We never know the important impact or meaningful impression we may unconsciously have on others; this ripple effect spreads out to touch many, for better or worse. We are subconsciously influencing others and all the while being influenced as well. The family setting is an ideal way to influence the upcoming generations to walk with God, as in Timothy’s situation: first his grandmother, then mother and after that into his own life (2 Tim 1:5, 3:14,15). This parental input instills values that cause them to want to either be like the role model or do all in their power not to repeat what they see. “I have chosen [Abraham], so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord…” (Gen 18:19). “You and your household...” (Act 16:31-34). While each member had to respond personally, the deep family bonding and high level of apparent influence ensured each would.

See also: control, entry points, example, input, leaders/leadership, manipulation, peer pressure, persuade, teaching, witness/witnessing