Letter #679: The Power of Influence

Dear influence,

You fascinate me.

Louie Zamperini. Katniss Everdeen. Meghan Trainor. Amal Alamuddin.

Names most of us had never heard of a year ago. Now, names that have changed culture.

A World War II veteran whose story was brought to life on the big screen by Angelina Jolie.

A literary hero bringing hope to a nation as the Mockingjay in Hunger Games and fame to Jennifer Lawrence.

The girl who left everyone wondering how does one become “All About that Base.”

A name you’re still unsure of, but let’s cut to the chase…she’s Barbara Walters’ Most Fascinating Person of 2014 and mostly famous because she married George Clooney.

All four have fallen into the public eye in America, maybe even the world, for different reasons. But the thing they have in common: you.

2014 looked different because of the impact those individuals had on it. Sure, they’ve had books written about them, TV segments centered on them and have made millions of dollars. Yes, they’re famous and their voices and impact seem to have great reach.

But when I really step back and think about you, these aren’t the people who’ve directly impacted my life the most. Hair styles, musical choices and box offices might look different because of them, but direct life change seems to actually come from every day you and me types.

And this is what fascinates me. You can happen on giant scales or individual. You can be vast or small. Expensive or free. But you always hold power.

The power of influence is real. We all have it, some more than others but we’re all influencing and being influenced in some capacity. The question is what kind? For the good or the bad?

What if we allowed you to be used for something greater, something bigger than fame, power, money or success? What if we built into and encouraged people? What if people started believing in themselves because we believed in them first?

Influence, you are fascinating, impactful and have the ability to change the trajectory of entire lives. Celebrity status is great and all, but we each must choose in the moments and measure you with one word: How?

Striving for more positive than negative influence even without being on Barbara’s list,

Influencer of the average, normal and daily…and so are you

Letter #613: A Wedding and a Funeral

Dear platforms,

Everyone is looking for his or her own version of you.

Professional athletes. Rockstars. Politicians. You used to have to be in one of these roles to have you. These people still do, but the opportunity to gaining you has grown immensely.

Social media allows anyone to have a voice. Some voices are louder than others, but nevertheless the gate to gaining one of you has widened. I think at the core of us all, we want to be known. We want to be loved. We want to be heard.

However the truth is, we each have an audience watching and listening each day. Sorority sisters. Co-workers. Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Your own children. Neighbors. People are watching. The question is what are we portraying?

Platforms: they’re everywhere. Justin Timberlake, Kevin Durant and Taylor Swift’s are massive. A first grade teacher’s is much smaller yet still impactful. Supervisors of employees set the tone for the entire workplace. Pastors are responsible to communicate the truth of the Gospel.

They may vary in size and severity, but they are all important. However, I believe there are two times in life when you far exceed any other moment.

The greatest two platform opportunities in an individual’s life: one’s wedding and one’s funeral. One we really have no say in. The other we typically get so consumed by details of colors and centerpieces that we miss opportunity altogether.

When I die, I will have no say in how my service goes. Even if I document details I still have no control over what people actually say. However, every person in attendance will be completely focused on the life I lived.

I sat at a funeral this week, and these are the things I was thinking about. Strange, I know. Regardless, it got me thinking. There are two times in life when people have the undivided attention of hundreds of others. The only way I can affect what you look like at my funeral is by how I live in the moments. I pray I end on a worthwhile note. I pray the memories shared are less about me and more about eternal hope in Christ. I pray the choices I’m making today leave a legacy for Christ when I’m dead and gone, but I also pray I maximize my daily platforms as well.

We all have versions of you. Our Twitter handles. Our friend circles. Our employees. Our nieces, nephews and children. Everyone’s looks a little different, but we all have them. Today I am challenged how I’m using you daily. What am I pointing people to? How am I leading and influencing with the platforms I’ve been given?

As I’m reminded to embrace you daily, I’m also challenged to think through what my wedding (prayerfully if it happens one day) and funeral will reflect. There are two times in life we have the biggest platform opportunities. Two times of undivided attention. Our daily platforms are touch and go, but these two are intently focused. How will we use these two days of our lives? What will these platforms point to? Temporary and superficial or eternal and life-changing?

Here’s to strange and challenging thoughts while celebrating the life of a sweet lady,

Platform Recognizer

Letter #552: We’re All Influencers

Dear influence,

If any of us ever doubt you, we shouldn’t. Somebody is always watching us. Whether we’re aware of it or not, they are. Sometimes we intentionally leverage you, but most of the time you are simply a by-product of the way we live our lives. We all have you on some level; the question is will we use you negatively or positively?

A few weekends ago, my friends, Lauryn and Taylor, got married. Both had spent three years of their lives working in youth ministries. Lauryn’s location was close enough that students were able to make the trip. During their first dance, 20-30 of her girls congregated around the dance floor swooning over their leader’s big day. If Lauryn ever doubted her three years spent, this sums up the fruit of her labor. She’ll never know how much of an impact she made on the kids and families she did life with for three years, but this photo is a small glimpse. Lauryn’s not the only influencer in our midst. You are too.

Co-workers. Friends. Roommates. Nieces and nephews. Small group kids. Students in your classroom. Sorority sisters. Twitter followers and Facebook friends. Family members. Campers. We each have a sphere of you. Sure, some are bigger than others, but we’re all impacting someone. What’s you’re legacy and reputation saying about you? How’s it impacting those watching your life? How are you making a difference?

You are a hard concept for me to grasp because I often wonder what I have to offer. I’m just a 25 year old living life to the best of my ability while having fun, serving others and fighting to keep Christ at the center of my everything. I fail daily, yet I have more of you than I ever realize or deserve. We all do. Lord, remind me of this. Actually maybe it’s better to keep me unaware and simply remind me to be faithful in my lifestyle simply because You deserve faithfulness.

Thankful for the influencers in my life,

Prayerfully a positive influencer