Teachers. Sports figures. Politicians. Celebrities. Reality stars. Parents. These are people who influence our society. They invest in an art, an occupation, or are in a life situation that has impact on the lives of individuals … and sometimes, millions.
This year, Time magazine named 16 year old Greta Thunberg as its Person of the Year. Her young voice is amplified by millions across the globe to get our attention focused on climate change. She has spoken before the U.N. and Congress. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She has stared down Trump and been the object of ridicule and praise by leaders and media world wide.
If her goal was to make the world ‘woke’, she has gone a long way to accomplish that. Her quote at the U.N. shows her fiery demeanor from a young teen.
How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words …
I applaud her idealism and passion. When many teens are more concerned with TikTok likes and family drama and their place in the high school pecking order, this young woman has stayed true to her vision and is bringing attention to an issue that could use further research and ideas.
However, I think idealism also needs to be tempered with reality. To push such drastic and expedited change would cause devastation and could lead to many worse scenarios. Obama challenged “woke” young people to be less judgmental and realize we live in a messy world that has people with flaws … all people. We’ve turned into society that advocates a “cancel culture,” where people are only given one strike and then cast to the wayside.
But let me get back to the point. I am glad for young people like Thunberg who passionately stands for what they believe. We need more young people to become aware of issues and get involved in helping our world.
But influence is not only from people that shake the world up, or make Time’s short list. It’s for parents who love, provide, and protect their children. For educators who invests in hundreds of lives over their tenure. For salespeople who show respect and a life of value. For preachers who walk in the Word and share God’s love with others. For social workers, police officers, military, library workers, waitresses, and even bloggers.
Influence is a by-product of investing in people’s lives. Do you desire to be a person of influence? In whose life are you investing?
Be a person of influence for the good of the world, and the world hereafter. Be salt for our world. A light to those around you.
Merry Christmas Greta. May your influence be more than just for this world, but for the next as well.