Who are the people who have influenced your life the most? For good? Or for bad?
Your life is filled with relationships. Most do not affect you. They are acquaintances. Only people you know.
But there is a smaller group of people that have impacted you. They have shaped you. They have played a role in your becoming the person you are. Whether positive or negative, knowing them has left a permanent imprint on you.
Why do some affect you so much?
In one of my favorite messages, Andy Stanley tells us why. It isn’t about what those people believed. It isn’t about knowledge. It isn’t about theology.
The people who have had the greatest impact on your life can be divided into one of two categories.
Those that have hurt you. And those that have loved you.
The People that Have Hurt You
There are those who have caused you harm. They damaged you. Your life is worse for knowing them. And the impact is lasting.
You have been scarred by them. And that hurt can be difficult to get over. Sometimes the hurt and the pain runs so deep it can take years to move on. Sometimes you can’t.
Sometimes the hurt is intentional. Sometimes it isn’t
Sometimes the hurt comes from someone you expect it from. Sometimes it comes from the ones you love. The ones you thought loved you.
The People that Have Helped You
There are also people who have influenced you for good.
- A parent that loved you unconditionally.
- A spouse that always quick to forgive.
- A teacher that saw something good in you and encouraged you to fly higher.
- A boss who recognized your hard work and showed appreciation.
All of these saw something good in you. They encouraged you. They supported you. They reached down and helped you. They gave of themselves in such a way, it made you want to do something better. It made you want to do more.
These are the types of people who make you want to live a better story.
And they did it because they loved you. They gave sacrificially. They gave without expecting in return. They worked for your good. They were patient and kind.
Sometimes they even loved you at the expense of themselves.
And you will never forget them.
How to Influence Others for Good
One of Stanley’s main points is that you can, and do, have influence on others. Through your relationships, you are impacting the people you know.
It is easy to get caught up on ideas. It is fun to fill our heads with knowledge of how things should be. But what we believe about the world or about God, isn’t the key component to influence others for good.
Your words and actions can influence others in two different ways. You can either hurt them. Or you can help them.
If you choose to help, Stanley suggests a question to ask yourself in any given situation or relationship.
“What does love require of me?”
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