The Power of Influence…

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I was reading through portions of the books of Galatians and Acts in my bible this morning.  A section in Acts talked about Paul and Barnabas preaching to the Jews and Gentiles about Christ.  It’s no secret that Paul and Barnabas were often targets of violence and persecution because of their outspoken beliefs.  Yet that abuse never stopped them from continuing on and faithfully teaching and preaching.  After speaking to a large group, Paul and Barnabas’ words were spreading like wildfire.  Some Jews, of course, did not like this and began to plot against them.  While reading, I was pointed through my study to a verse to think more intently upon and study the context around it.  Here’s where it get’s interesting to me…

“But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.” -Acts 13:50

Who did the Jews motivate first to act against Paul and Barnabas?  Women.  And not just any women.  They were “God-fearing women of high standing…”, women of influence.  Interesting.  I then read this statement in my study book

For reasons we may never know, God entrusted womankind a most wonderful and terrible gift; the power of influence.

I’ve never thought about my influence being a gift from God.  In fact, if I really meditate on that, I would say that in thinking about influence, I would relate to it in a negative way – the terrible gift.  I think of people, including myself, to often use their influence to be manipulative or for personal gain.  It’s not really a fair thought and I am somewhat embarresed and disappointed with myself that I immediately went that direction in my head with it.  But what if I used my gift of influence for positive and unselfish gain?  What would that look like?  My thoughts immediately went to my children and husband, and then ventured outward to the rest of my family, friends, and those I don’t even know.  Suddenly I feel a weight on my shoulders that I am not doing what I could to influence others in a positive way.

What does the gift of influence look like in my home?  At a family gathering?  Out shopping at the grocery store? At church?  Wow.  God is pressing upon my heart to really think about this and take action.  At best, my influence should teach, encourage, nurture, love, and allow others to grow.  This is powerful and I am equipped and capable of doing all those things.  What a wonderful and unexpected gift.

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