Watch how others imitate your actions. This is most clearly seen in younger siblings. When you see a sibling doing something wrong, ask yourself if they’ve picked up on it from you. You are silently influencing them. Does your own behavior espouse godly character or the opposite?
What is the purpose in influencing? Is it to gain more recognition or approval? Is it to have more authority? Is it to control others? No, no, no! It should be to lead others to Christ, allowing God to use you as a humble vessel to impact them. Your obedience to Christ, even in the little things, can be used mightily by God to influence others. Ultimately then your life will bring the honor and glory to God because of His work in you.
How are we to influence others by our words? By speaking gently (Prov. 15:4) graciously (Col. 4:6), lovingly, kindly, words fitly spoken (Prov. 25:11), with wisdom (Prov. 31:26) and by speaking words that will build up (1 Thess. 5:11).
Do things that you want to encourage others to do. If you exhort your siblings to obey your parents yet display a disobedient or reluctant heart when they give you an instruction, do you think they’ll take you seriously? If you want to encourage godly behavior you need to watch your own heart for evidences when you are not obeying the Lord. A change in your own heart and a desire to follow the Lord completely is the most likely way to inspire, encourage and influence those around you. Henry Blackaby wisely conveys:
“Your life should convince those around you of the wisdom of following God. Do not underestimate the positive effect that your obedience will have upon those close to you.”
You never know who may be watching you, but your actions speak clearly for your character. What do people see when they watch how you act? Relate with others? Speak to your parents? Just by your actions, are you encouraging things like obedience and respectfulness to your parents and other authority? Are you inspiring others towards a deeper walk with God? Towards a love of holiness and godliness? Are you involved and supporting meaningful conversations, or are you always joking around? By your actions and behavior, do you encourage joyful serving, or is helping others a chore? Do you set the example by talking with or including those younger than you in games and discussions, or do you give the impression that it’s only fun to talk with people your age? Do you encourage language that honors and reverences the Lord’s name?
Don’t rely on others to set the standard—you set the standard! Set a godly example (1 Tim. 4:12).
I purposely didn’t answer all the questions I asked. I hope that you will think and pray through them. In addition to searching your own heart, pray that God would use you as a humble vessel to influence others for Him and encourage them in godliness. Also remember to pray for specific people that you feel you might be influencing.
*In my next post I hope to answer a few more questions regarding influence.