Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why Influence is AWESOME!

Ah, what a beautiful morning! My co-worker and I walked into the office today talking about how much of a coffee-and-porch-swing morning this is. (*sigh*) Alas, we are inside working on computers, staring out the window at the amazing day unfolding. It's okay. :) God will redeem it, I have no doubt. :) And, who's to say we can't take a few breaks and hit up the picnic table for a few minutes here and there? They say that taking frequent breaks at work makes you more productive. I think it might be time to test that theory. ;)

MAN! What an exciting day yesterday! Well, okay, this whole week! First, thank you SO much to everyone who left such encouraging and thoughtful comments on Facebook after the KCTV5 interview. That just made me want to cry. Praise God so stinkin' much for the blessing of being able to share His truth and love. It's ridiculous, really. And the fact that each and every one of us has a chance to do that in whatever career we're in is the REAL blessing. (I'll preach in a minute. haha! First, more fun...)

So, yesterday, my Mighty Man--after so selflessly and heroically driving all the way up north to sit with me at the Honda dealership while my car got fixed and serve as the "man-power" to make sure his lady didn't get swindled--and I went out for coffee after work. Before we did, though, we made a side trip to LifeWay, a Christian bookstore. Neither of us had seen the book on any shelves, yet, so we were getting curious. But Mighty Man's little sis had just texted me that she'd talked to a rep at another store who had already sold out of them, so we KNEW they were out there somewhere!

Anyway, we popped into LifeWay and...

YES!!! :) :) Hahaha! How awesome is that?? We stood there like little kids taking pictures with our phones and being all giddy about it. :) That was so fun! (Thanks for being there, my wonderful, amazing Mighty Man of God! That was so special to share with you.) Praise God for the opportunity to put something like this on a shelf and maybe, just maybe, encourage folks to better understand who they are in Christ and how much He loves them. Again...Ridiculous. Thank You, Lord!

So, for the preaching. Though, I'm sensitive about that word (um, we'll talk women in preaching roles another time), so I will say encouraging. For the encouraging today, this is what's on my heart.

Some of us are put into roles here on earth that are publicly highlighted, and our world tends to value that. I'm part of that world system. Um, hello! Did you read how I freaked out when Billy Blanks walked into a room? I totally do the same thing. It's just human nature. We respond to things we've seen in the public eye. What's funny about this book project is that there are many folks who want to talk to me about it, but the only reason they do is because they want to know about the athletes and coaches we cover inside. Really, they aren't interested in me (and that's not a Debbie Downer statement at ALL, it's totally just observation), they are interested in the people that I've talked to. A case of the celebrity fascination.

But that's what makes this book so stinkin' powerful! The people who are in the public eye ARE role models! They set the standard for our society, and we follow their lead. And, if you ask me, I believe that God sets it up that way to a certain degree. It could almost be compared to a role of authority in a way. Though they don't officially have authority over us, they are leaders and we do follow them. We don't have to, of course, but we do.

Why do we do this? Maybe because of the success factor. I haven't really thought about it that much, but it could be that we think we'll be successful if we follow their patterns and do what they do. Does Albert Pujols eat only egg whites and oatmeal for breakfast? Well, maybe that will work for me, too. Does Josh Hamilton work out five times a day? Maybe I should, too.

Where this gets even better is when it gets to lifestyle. Does Colt McCoy go to church? Maybe I should, too. Does Tamika Catchings read her Bible? She's one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Maybe I should read my Bible, too.

How amazing is that??? The power of influence! And regardless of our motives for following in their footsteps, God totally redeems it. Scripture says that His Word doesn't "return void," meaning that even if we read it with selfish ambition or because we think it will help us be successful, God can still use it to change our hearts.

Working for FCA, I hear this kind of story ALL the time. "So-and-so was my favorite athlete, and I heard him talk about how Christ had changed his life. I wanted to be like him, so I started reading my Bible. Pretty soon, I realized that it was all about living for Christ and allowing Him to be the Lord of my life, and I surrendered my life to Him." It's crazy how that works!

So often in Christian circles we berate the influence of celebrity. Yes, it does have its downside when our kids start following the examples of public figures who live worldly lifestyles. But, it has SUCH a tremendous upside too! That's why I'm thanking God so much for this book. Not because I get to put my name on a bookshelf. (Um, hello. I also have to prepare for the humbling that will eventually come when it makes it to the bargain bin.) But because God is using this to influence others through what He has done in the athletes and coaches they respect and admire.

So what if people buy the book because Josh Hamilton is on the cover? That's awesome!! Praise God!! He raised Josh Hamilton up for a reason--part of it being so that they WOULD buy this book and read about his faith in Christ. Maybe someone who is battling a drug addiction will read his story and find the hope they've been needing. "If Jesus healed Josh Hamilton and redeemed his addiction, maybe He can do the same for me..." YES!! HE CAN! :) :) Praise God!

Oh, man! Now I'm fired up. haha! :)

Anyway, the point I'm making is that influence is a good thing. Celebrity can be a good thing. In fact, I believe it is when it comes to Christian figures who genuinely want to love and serve the Lord. Are there posers in the Christian celebrity world? Definitely. But there are also some amazing men and women of God who truly understand that it's not about the fame/stats/material, but about bringing glory to the Lord and sharing Him with others.

Will they mess up? Undoubtedly. They are human. That's why Jesus protected the sinful woman in Scripture by telling her condemners that if they were without sin they could throw stones at her. They all dropped their rocks and walked off. Christian public figures are still human. But that's why we don't WORSHIP them, we respect them and learn from them. We worship the God who has worked IN them, and we thank Him for doing the same for us.

Today, I'm praising God for the men and women of ANY vocation who aren't afraid to share their faith with others. It's risky putting yourself out there as a follower of Christ. You might mess up and lead people astray. You might find out that people don't like you because of it. You might be held accountable to live a Godly lifestyle. PRAISE GOD! :) Any and all of those situations can bless and grow both your faith and that of others if you place them in the hands of Christ! :)

One more point for the day, and then I'll stop.

Whoever you and and whatever you do, know that YOU have influence, too. It's not just something reserved for the Albert Pujolses of the world. It's something we ALL are given as Christians. We are called to stand out for the Lord as lights in a dark world. Regardless of whether or not you have a TV camera on you or a microphone in your face, people are watching you and learning from you. Why not embrace the chance to show Christ to them? Live it out! Sure, it's hard, but you're certainly not alone. You have the entire Body of Christ doing the same thing and fighting the same battles right along with you. And, most importantly, you have GOD ALMIGHTY fighting FOR you! He's on your side. Who on earth can be against you? (Psalm 27:1)

So, go for it! Live it up and live it out knowing that you ARE making a difference. :)

Love and hugs to you all!! :) :)


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