FIRST-PERSON: Your God-given influence
IMMOKALEE, Fla. (BP) -- There she was. Sitting on a beige sofa in my living room. Let's call her Ashley.
Ashley had grown up in church and is still a faithful member who serves in the women's ministry. She is a loving wife, mother and career woman. From the outside, she had it all.
However, she had a fear stirring within her that she had no influence. She kept saying over and over that she was just a wife and just a mother.
I think that there are a lot of Ashleys out there -- a lot of incredibly amazing women who are serving their hearts out for the Lord who do not have big platforms. They are simply using their gifts right where God has placed them to point others to Jesus.
But in their honest and vulnerable moments, they wonder if they are measuring up or if their work really matters since their platform isn't skyrocketing.
There is this misconception that in order to have influence you must speak from a stage, write a book that makes it as a New York Times Best Seller, or have a large Instagram following with perfectly styled and filtered pictures.
We have glamorized what it means to follow Jesus. We think it happens on stages and in books, but it really happens around tables, neighborhoods, small groups and living rooms.
I bet the top three people who have changed your life were eye to eye, across from you, investing time in your life. Who were they? What is holding you back from investing in someone in your life?
The biggest lie from the enemy is that, if our influence isn't big, it doesn't matter. The problem with this lie is that we make influence the goal and not loving Jesus.
If we do this, a few things will happen. First, your heart will be consumed with what the world thinks. Second, you will miss the Holy Spirit working right before your eyes. Last, you will never be satisfied. Rather than using the spiritual gifts God has entrusted to you, you use Him as a stepping stone to get somewhere. Somewhere bigger.
So, what do we do to fight this misconception?
1. Use your gifts. Somehow, some way, anywhere, any time. Forget about size, or impact, or reach.
2. Take frequent breaks from social media. It is so easy to keep up with everyone's accomplishments just by reading their social media profiles. Pull away from social media enough to fix your eyes on Christ and to stay in your lane. Remember that you are running your race, not someone else's (Hebrews 12:1-3).
3. Don't overlook who is right in front of you. Don't forget to look for opportunities to serve people right where you are. If your focus is always on the "bigger and better" days ahead of you, chances are you will miss the blessings that occur in your normal everyday life. Serve, love and make much of God and the person standing right in front of you.
4. Remember to make His name famous. We are not here to make our name great or build our following. Scripture is clear that when we receive attention and praise here, that is all we get (Matthew 6). We have received our reward in full. Even if our following gets large or we garner a book-signing line, remember to point others to the cross.
Sister, you have influence because of who lives inside you. Forget about size or impact or reach. Confidently step out in what you've already been given to live fully alive as the woman you were created to be.
If we ever get a chance to meet face to face on a beige sofa, I hope you will share your story about how God is using you in His plan right where you are.