I have had an incredible day. The first one in a very long time to be honest. Yet, something weighs on my spirit tonight and it comes to one word: Influence.
A few years ago I took a position as an Administrative Assistant at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas. At the time I knew that God had sent me to this safe place to prepare me for a coming season when I would step out into my own ministry endeavors. I had no idea what that would mean or look like. I simply followed Him into it.
Working at Gateway among people I both admire and respect – people who have poured into my life with their own lives – remains one of the richest and most challenging experiences of my life. As I walked out my journey on staff there I never fully realized that people beyond the walls of the ministry center were watching me, relating to me and, more than that, admiring me the way I admire those significant people and spiritual influences who have brought me up in the faith.
I really had not thought too much about that aspect of my position there…
Until today… Perhaps I should have, but I just did not have the first clue how many people might be paying attention. It makes me think of Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 5:
You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden. People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 NET)
Perhaps I should have realized that my role would be visible. To be honest, my role was supportive and I felt I served more like wallpaper and furniture than perhaps the Masterpiece work of art on the wall held up in the spotlight for all to see.
A few times I had the opportunity to serve on the ministry teams or as a session leader both individually as well as with small groups. Still, it never really occurred to me anyone besides my co-workers and God would be paying attention. A few more times people, strangers to me, approached me at church to tell me they appreciated my work in the ministry. On two different occasions I have had a woman tell me they had been watching me from a distance over a period of time.
Since that time, I’ve moved from Gateway Church to StoneWater Church in Granbury, Texas. Once again I serve on staff and once again I have found I have influencee in the lives of those I serve. Though I am no longer surprised – I am still often unaware of the spotlight I live in.
What I am realizing more and more, is the influence5 I have been allowed to enjoy remains the result of my choosing to be obedient and follow Jesus in the churches where I land. And, rather than puff me up and make me feel like I accomplished something really amazing – it drops into my spirit a deeper awareness of just how fragile my life is, and just how easy it would be to run from the safety of humility to the pride of affection and lose myself to the accolades and admiration of others.
LESS THAN ORDINARY
He also said to them, “A lamp isn’t brought to be put under a basket or under a bed, is it? Isn’t it to be placed on a lampstand? For nothing is hidden except to be revealed, and nothing concealed except to be brought to light. If anyone has ears to hear, he had better listen!” And he said to them, “Take care about what you hear. The measure you use will be the measure you receive, and more will be added to you. For whoever has will be given more, but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” (Mark 4:21-25 NET)
Here is where I hope to land this thought tonight. Are you ready for it?
(Deep breath. I am about to bust your bubble….)
Okay. That person you highly esteem and reverence who has brought you up in the faith, they are no different than you. They are a light set on a lamp stand, and maybe people see their light on a platform somewhere, but YOU, my friend, are EVERY BIT AS MUCH A LIGHT AS THEY ARE! You are. They put their pants on one leg at a time, and so do you. Everything that is available to them is available to you in the person of Jesus Christ and through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. They blow it big and look in the mirror wondering how a sovereign God could entrust them with any influence6 at all. The only difference between you and someone with public influence7 is the choice to step up and out in the light of Christ burning in you.
It is a careful stewardship, a balancing act that requires you to value the Kingdom above everything else and to choose to lay down your pride in favor of Christ. The Apostle, Paul, understood this so well when he wrote to the church in Phillipi:
Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well. (Philippians 2:3, 4 NET)
I have had the opportunity to work alongside forerunners and life-changers in God’s Kingdom. I’ve also met and expressed gratitude to spiritual mentors in my life like Beth Moore, Lisa Bevere and Betty Robison. I have seen the way the weight of public affection and admiration affects the lives of those who minister from the platforms in our churches. And I also witnessed the way that kind of attention can break an anointed leader and bring defeat to them. We are all called to be LIGHT. As you sit in awe at the work of God in your favorite leader’s life, remember that everything that you admire in them is available in you.
Influence8 is born in the quiet places of your life, the deep intimacy of your relationship with Jesus -abiding, taking the small assignments of service, not seeking the spotlight or the platform, being willing to both submit and set aside whenever it is required, and choosing to place the highest value on your relationship with God and not the people in your life who serve Him. Humility, obedience and relationship is where influence9 is born – first with God, then with other people. Walk it out one step at a time.
I pray you never cease to realize the greatness, uniqueness and fullness of Life that is alive and at work in you through Jesus Christ! And as we come to the weekend of Easter I hope you will choose by faith to LIGHT. IT. UP. for Jesus this year! Get on that lamp stand and shine.