Recently, I have been confronted with how greatly I influence others, specifically my brother. I see it happen all the time; he copies everything I do. I’ve seen it happen in lots of families – the younger siblings always copy the older siblings. Why? Because we as older siblings (some of y’all don’t have to deal with this) have a great influence on our younger siblings, for better or worse, consciously or subconsciously.
But our sphere of influence extends beyond our own families. We are also affected by the people we interact with on a regular basis. I’ve seen it in my brother, but I recognize it the most in myself. However, I want to talk about how we influence others.
I notice how my brother will take after me in actions, speech, ideas, even little things that I do. I am charged with a big responsibility: being a good role model. Whether I want to be a role model or not is beside the point; I have a daily influence on him, and I can either be a good one, or a bad one. I can never know exactly what toll my influence will have upon him. All that I can do is set the example. If I say something, he’s probably bound to say it at one point or another – so is what I say uplifting, encouraging? What I do, he’ll probably do, too – so is it something that I would later regret, or is it something that will affect him positively? It’s hard to go through life with this in mind. It’s naturally in us to do what we feel like doing now, without thinking of the outcome. But if we pause and take a minute to remember who’s always watching us (or Who), then we might choose to pay more attention to what we say or do.
I know I certainly don’t want to go around always worrying if what I do is going to have a good influence on my brother. That’s not how I envision spending my days! But if I am living for an audience of One, I don’t have to worry about how my influence will affect my brother. “But just as He who called you is holy, be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’,” 1 Peter 1:15-16. If we are seeking after Christ in all we do, actively trying to please Him and be just like Him, then we will already be setting a positive example. So it’s not about living as an example for others; it’s about living as an example of who Christ is.
Like I said, it’s not just setting an example for your siblings. It extends to our friends, little kids at church, or even adults. People are watching you when you don’t even realize it.
But let’s talk specifically about our affect upon our friends now. I know that certain friends have influenced me in both good and bad ways. Every one of my friends has influenced me in one way or another, for better or worse. The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.” And we are also admonished in Proverbs 13:20 “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Obviously, God knew that the influence of other people would be strong and that we would need His wisdom to make good choices in our friendships. So the same principal applies to us. If we know that our friends influence us, we should know that we also influence them.
But when we live solely for Christ, then that’s all that matters. Everything we do will stem from our relationship with Him. As I said before, it’s not about living as an example for others; it’s about living as an example of who He is. Live for One.