That’s a convicting question, isn’t it? Most of us don’t even think about our sphere of influence; we don’t think about who’s watching us react to disappointments or who’s learning from our walk with Christ. We just assume… I’ve got friends and family, neighbors and coworkers, fellow students and folks in our community, but we don’t often assess how our words, attitudes and actions, our choices about entertainment and books, movies, or the kind of language we use… we don’t consider that recent outburst or that comment we made in our small group, we don’t think much about how these things influence others, either for the good, or the bad.
There was a time when I certainly didn’t think about such things. I assumed that my witness, that my testimony was telling people how I came to Christ. I did not realize that a witness, that a testimony is really the way we live in front of people, saved or unsaved. It’s the way we demonstrate to others how real we think Jesus is and whether or not we honor Him in the eyes of others. And make no mistake: people, saved or unsaved, are watching. They are observing our conduct and speech. And by it, they are swayed one way or the other, either closer to Christ or away from Him (that especially happens when our thoughtless actions and words give others freedom to do the same: like, well, so-and-so does it, why can’t I?). So the deal is; God wants us to be a good steward of the influence we have on other people, Christians or non-Christians.
Let me be personal here. Allow me to share how this whole idea became so important, so central to me. Back in the late 70’s, when I saw the success of the Joni book, as well as the amazing response to the Joni movie produced by Billy Graham, it became clear real fast that God had given me a large sphere of great influence. No longer was I just the girl on the farm with her small circle of friends and little church. Now, people were watching. It meant I had a significant responsibility, much like the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. I realized I needed to be a wise steward of every opportunity – where I went, what I said, how I lived, and with whom I hung around.
Even now, decades later, I dare not become reckless with the platform God has given me, for I long more than anything, to one day hear my Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…look at the good accomplished in others by your careful witness.” Friend, I want you to one day hear the same thing from Jesus. God has given you a sphere of influence, whether great or small. And even if you are the one with the small circle of friends and attending a little church, people are watching you. They are learning from your example. What you say and how you live has a huge impact on the people who are watching you, especially the children around you. So be a wise steward. Strengthen others with your integrity, with your careful thought to how you speak and act. Keep front and center in your thinking Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, because you don’t want to jeopardize; you don’t want to risk bringing your Savior any shame or disappointment. When it comes to your influence, you too, want to hear from the Lord, “Well done!”
Originally shared by Joni Eareckson Tada on Joni and Friends Radio