Tag Archives: influence

Monday Minute (and a half) … a quick thought on style

Have you ever looked at a friend’s outfit and said, “I need to get that shirt!” (Or shoes, or whatever.) Or maybe it’s just because you saw that actor/actress wear one like it. You want it bad now.

Or you sit down at a local eating establishment and when you see what the peeps at the next table are eating, you order that because it looks so good.

Or, more likely, you watch a commercial for Chick-fil-A so you immediately order your chicken nuggets by grub-hub or door dash (God forbid you get up and go get it yourselves, there’s a virus out there!)

Makes me think of The classic animation The Jungle Book, when they are singing I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song.)

Influenced by others. It is a real thing. A thirst for something, food-clothes-lifestyle-dance moves, has been created by someone else – directly or indirectly. The Monday Minute challenge is … what type of thirst are you creating in others? What is it about you that they want to know a little more about? Is it your shoes, your diet, your exercise routine, your lifestyle? Is there anything about you that others are craving to have in your life?

Let this quote by Greg Laurie challenge you in this Monday Minute (and a half) …

The greatest compliment that can be paid to a Christian is when a nonbeliever says, “What is it about you? I admire you. I want to know what makes you tick.” You’ve done your job, Christian, because you’ve created a spiritual thirst in another. … Greg Laurie

My Kind of Eulogy

Have you ever wondered what they’ll say at your funeral? For me, I want levity, laughter, and a little musical jam session. Talk about my passions, my love for Lisa, my legacy in my son, my weird sense of humor and how this life was just a warmup for eternity in heaven. No tears. No sadness. Maybe tell a few jokes.

But when it comes to talking about my impact in this world, I hope I glorified God, served well, and made life a little better for those around me.

Wow, this sounds macabre. Let me move along quickly.

I was watching the funeral of John Lewis, a man who fought and served and lived well. Words by former Presidents from both parties shared of his impact. And I want to share how George W. Bush spoke of Lewis …

Good morning. Distinguished guests, John Miles, Lewis’ family and friends. Laura and I thank you for inviting us for being here today.

John’s story began on a tiny farm in Troy, Alabama, a place so small he said you can barely find it on a map. Dr. Warnock talked about the chickens. I did a little research. Every morning, he would rise before the sun to tend to the flock of chickens. He loved those chickens. Already called to be a minister who took care of others, John fed them, and tended to their every need. Even their spiritual ones. Where John baptized them, he married them and he preached to them. When his parents claimed one for family supper, John refused to eat one of his flock. Going hungry was his first act of nonviolent protest.

He also noted in later years that his first congregation of chickens listened to him more closely than his colleagues in Congress. John also thought that the chickens were a little more productive. At least they produced eggs, he said.

From Troy to the sit-ins of Nashville, from the Freedom Rides to the March on Washington, from Freedom Summer to Selma, John Lewis always looked outward, not inward. He always thought of others; he always thought of preaching the gospel, in word and in deed, insisting that hate and fear had to be answered with love and hope.

John Lewis believed in the Lord, he believed in humanity and he believed in America. He’s been called an American saint, a believer willing to give up everything, even life itself, to bear witness to the truth that drove him all his life. That we could build a world of peace and justice, harmony and dignity and love. And the first crucial step on that journey was the recognition that all people are born in the image of God, and carry a spark of the divine in them.

Laura and I were privileged to see that spark in John up close. We worked with him to bring the National Museum of African American History and Culture to the Washington Mall. He was instrumental in the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act, which I signed to seek resolution in cases where justice had been too long denied. And we will never forget joining him in Selma, Alabama for the 50th anniversary of his march across the Edmund Pettis Bridge, where we got to watch President Barack Obama thank John as one of his heroes.

There’s a story in the Old Scriptures that meant a lot to John. In the Hebrew Bible, the Lord is looking for a prophet. “Whom shall I send,” God wonders, and who will go for us? Isaiah answers: Here am I. Send me.

John Lewis heard that call a long time ago in segregated Alabama and he took up the work of the Lord through all his days. His lesson for us is that we must all keep ourselves open to hearing the call of love. The call of service. And the call to sacrifice for others.

Listen, John and I had our disagreements of course – but in the America John Lewis fought for, and the America I believe in, differences of opinion are inevitable elements and evidence of democracy in action.

We the people, including congressmen and presidents, can have differing views on how to perfect our union while sharing the conviction that our nation, however flawed, is a good and noble one.

We live in a better and nobler country today because of John Lewis and his abiding faith in the power of God, the power of democracy and in the power of love to lift us all to a higher ground. The story that began in Troy isn’t ending here, nor is the work. John Lewis lives forever in his Father’s house, and he will live forever in the hearts of Americans, who act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with their God. May the flights of angels see John Lewis to his rest, and may God bless the country he loved.

— George W. Bush (Transcript originated from USA Today)

Eulogy … literally means “good word”. They are those final words about a person. And these are some pretty good words. This is my kind of eulogy.

Be a Person of Influence

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.

Be the Change – In Others

I am a little concerned about my readers. My most read blogs so far were about me with a possible DUI, and the one about me having something stolen from me. It seems you desire some sort of demise into my life – you’re a bit of a fatalistic voyeur. Makes me a bit squeamish.

But, you continue to read. Hopefully, something positive will impact your life. And that brings me to today’s topic – being an influence. I have known people who taught Carnegie’s work on winning friends and influencing people. I have known leaders who teach how to instigate or lead through change. But influence is not just for leaders or those who’ve have completed and been certified through a course. Influence is something we all should have wherever we journey and with whomever we journey. It is clear that my main influence is in the home – as a husband and a father. My role as pastor was an obvious role of influence – but as I am now at a hotel, I am enjoying building relationships and getting know others. A few of my coworkers read this blog – and that excites me to know I am making a connection.

I once read an illustration of a high school cross country event. The leader of the pack was an established runner and highly expected to win the race. But somewhere along the path, the leader took a wrong turn. And then something else happened – all those behind him took the same turn. Before long, they were all about a mile off course before anyone realized it. The effect that runner had shows the impact of influence – we can take people further along or further away. I really want to influence others in a positive way.
Jesus talks about this in a very clear way when He says we are the salt of the earth – a light to the world. Salt brings flavor, preserves, and is essential to life. But what are some of the ways we are salt. What are some ways we can use the opportunities to be an influence to those around us. This is not a comprehensive list, but it is some good points from a variety of sources.

As you read through each of these, ask yourself how you can immediately apply these in your relationships with others.

1 – Develop the relationship, build a rapport. It is not about making yourself better, but helping others be better. Lift them up.
2 – Be Genuine. Admit your faults and mistakes, and the lessons you learned from and through them. Mistakes show you as human and can build respect when they see you as an overcomer.
3 – Give leeway and be forgiving. Tearing another person down benefits no one. Providing escapes and protections from embarrassment will build trust and openness to influence.
4 – Be positively personable. Use their name – it shows an investment. And smile a lot. Carnegie writes about the importance and impact of a smile.
    A smile is nature’s best antidote for discouragement.
    It brings rest to the weary,
Sunshine to those who are frowning,
And hope to those who are hopeless and defeated.
A smile is so valuable that it can’t be bought,
Begged, borrowed, or taken away against your will.
You have to be willing to give a smile away
Before it can do anyone else any good.
So if someone is too tired or grumpy to flash you a smile,
Let him have one of yours anyway.
Nobody needs a smile as much
As the person who has none to give.

5 – Be accepting of others – and see life from their point of view. This is not about agreement but about respect of the person. They have their own story and reasons.
6 – Acknowledge the value, ideas, and accomplishments of others.
7 – Spark the passion with in them. Build on their desires and passions. It shows interest and investment.

These are just a few – there are plenty more. But by investing in others in a positive, personal way – it will develop the opportunity to be an influence. You are an influencer – will you be a good one? Will you be be the best you can be for others?

Be the Salt – Be the Light. Make a difference in the lives of others!!

Instead of Getting Drunk

It is interesting. I used to serve drinks as a bartender for a catering business during my college days. I was unsure of my story’s direction, searching for purpose, and drifting between a half dozen colleges and degree plans. After I surrendered to the call of vocational ministry, I stopped working with the catering biz and decided to never serve any more alcohol. And now, at the hotel, there is a bar, and I have to explain this decision occasionally.

But in all my life, I have never, I repeat, never had anything alcoholic to drink (outside of NyQuil). This discussion here is not about whether alcohol should or should not be consumed – it is about letting something bring you under its influence. I have witnessed far too often too many people losing sound mindedness because they gave themselves over to the influence of alcohol.

Influence – I Peter 5 tells us to be sober-minded, watchful. Eph 5 says not to be drunk with strong wine – but to be filled with the Spirit. So, although we are not to allow alcohol have that level of influence on us, we are to let the Spirit have that level of influence. We are to be filled with the Spirit. What does that mean? It is an ongoing lifestyle of seeking and being influenced by the joy, the wisdom, the love of God’s almighty presence. I appreciate the words of John Piper – to be filled with the Spirit means to be caught into the joy that flows among the Holy Trinity and to love God the Father and God the Son with the very love with which they love each other. That joy, that love is all consuming.

But again, how?  Let’s take a few illustrations to help understand it.

Some see it as a balloon where we let the Spirit fill us. We take in the air, the breath of God, and exhale His fruit and grace. The word for Spirit is the same as wind after all. Breathe In, Breathe Out.

Others see it as a gas tank. We go to church on Sundays, get our tanked filled, and we can drive around all week – praying we have enough gas to get us back to church the following Sunday.

But I see it more as sailing (disclaimer: I don’t sail, never sailed, and don’t watch the American Cup – But I do sing out loud when I hear Sailing by Chris Cross, Sail On by the Commodores, or Southern Cross by CS&Nash. So I am an amateur professional. I see being filled by the spirit like raising your sails and letting the wind direct you. The Holy Spirit is at work around us and we are to raise our sails, to trim them – which means to position them in such a way to maximize the work of the wind. We are to set our lives in such a way that it is His power, His direction, and His influence over everything we are, everything we do, and everywhere we go.

When you are under the influence of alcohol, it controls everything about you – you can not pick and choose sections of your life you want the alcohol to influence – it influences every part of you. And the Word says don’t let this happen, but let the Spirit be all consuming.

So, trim your sails through prayer, Bible reading, worship, praise, and all the disciplines. Set your life to respond to Him and His influence – that is the greatest influence anyone can let into their lives.

Tomorrow – Our influence on others.

Some sailing tips on trimming smiles
Piper’s Article on Being Filled

Pulled Over for a DUI

Many moons ago, I was pulled over for driving under the influence. It was the wee hours of the morning, I was returning from an early morning shift, my car was weaving the lanes on 75, the W, and a police car was quick to flag me down (kudos on their prompt response). After quickly pulling off the W and coming to full and complete stop, I explained to the man in blue I was coming off several straight shifts from two jobs, headed home, and had not had any alcohol or medication. I completed my once and only breathalyzer and walked in a straight line – he came to believe me. He took pity, directed me to the closest 7-11 (Mockingbird near SMU – a tennis complex is there now, but there is a Starbucks across the street) – of which he ordered me to go there, do not pass go, and have some coffee. I did as instructed.

DUI – Driving Under the Influence. Influence is a remarkable thing – to have an effect or impact on someone’s character and/or actions. This week, Time Magazine listed their top 100 people of influence in the world (see here for complete list). It includes a wide variety of personas from the political and cultural spectrum. From Chloe Kim to Rosanne Barr, from Prince Harry to Kim Jung Un, from Christine Waters to Jeff Bezos, and so forth – the list is impressive. Yes, they are influential. I even see how some parts of my life has been influenced by their leadership, their efforts, or their practice of the arts. But influence is also something we allow, something we give permission to impact our character. Jesus said that bad company corrupts good character. We are who we hang around with with. Or more direct – garbage in/garbage out.

I look at whom I allow to influence me – teachings of Craig Groeschel, JD Greear, Bob Goff, as well as local pastors like Josh Allen (ParkwayHiils), Robert Morris (GateWay), and Pete Brisco (Bent Tree). But unfortunately, I also let worldly influences slip in as well – TV/Media that doesn’t honor the Lord, comedy that might be questionable, or music that promotes a morally questionable lifestyle. Maybe I should follow the “mother test’ – if you feel uncomfortable watching or listening to something while your mother was in the room, then maybe you shouldn’t be watching/listening.

This is not about becoming Amish – hiding yourself from the world, for we are to be in the world but not of the world. It is about influence – what are letting influence you?
The Bible says to ‘guard your heart’. The children’s song of ‘be careful little eyes what you see’ is also very appropriate. So I challenge you this week, look at what you let influence your life – evaluate what you let in to your mind – and ponder the things you watch/listen to. Then, take that list and evaluate whether they build you up or break you down. Do they strengthen your walk your with the Lord or do they distract you from that relationship?

If we are to be under the influence, may it be that we are filled with the Spirit. (See Eph. 5.18-21). We will look a bit more at that tomorrow. Till then, look at what you allow to influence your life!
COMING SOON – Starting in May – on the 10th of each month, I will do Top 10 lists. Who are the Top 10 influences, the Top 10 books, the Top 10 moments, etc. Different list every month. Think about your list. First month – Top 10 people of influences in your life up to this point.

Food Favs & Friends

One particular research group did a survey on ‘Top Quick Service Food Spots.’ The food_7179cnp.jpgresults were announced this week. Now, being that I have multiple connections to food institutions, I thought I would weigh in a bit. I recommend places to eat all the time at the hotel. I am starting a second job at a food institution Monday.  I was accused by a friend (I will not mention Jan G’s name – oops) that I used to post Facebook posts about eating establishments a lot (so, I cut that out). And mostly, my connection is that I eat out a lot.

So, the winners are …
– In-N-Out for burgers. (personally, Calvin & I are Kincaid’s fan)
– Chipotle for Mexican. It is making a comeback.
– Wawa for sandwiches. It is spreading out people. Might stop on the way to work tonight.
– Pizza Ranch for pizza. Only 200 restaurants in 13 states. Kansas is a bit far to test this place, so I will take their word for it. Interestingly, their website says world’s best chicken. I would say you need to read the next line below.
– And the runaway top spot for chicken is Chick-fil-A. (Is it me, or do others really crave this on Sunday the most?)
See the article here.

One of the surprising results was that larger burger chains did not do so well. Some ended on the very bottom of the list. This goes to show that bigger does not always mean better. And that principle can be seen in a lot of areas.

In my major world of influence, the church, I find this sometimes true. The best institutions are those that focus on relationships. One principle I believe about churches (and any business) is that the larger it gets, the smaller it needs to gets. Small groups, Bible fellowships, cell groups, or whatever you call them, it is those smaller and personal groups where relationships are built. I love large and energetic worship venues – the synergy, the music, the emotional impact can be dynamic – but it is in the smaller, intimate settings where I believe transformation is nurtured.

This is also true at the hotel where I work. The strength of my employer is not the name on the building, or the perks for staying with them (though both are admirable), the true strength is the people that work there – how they work together, how they care for the guests, and how they go out of there way to meet needs. It is exciting to see this take place. I hope I add to that dynamic at the hotel.

And though I enjoy the workplace, it is in the church that I really desire to make a difference. And I hope you have found a church to call home as well. And after church, grab some of those friends and grab a bite. Only remember – Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays.

Typos Tackled, Trees Toppled, and Traditions Trimmed

Today we are looking at influences in our lives – the impact other things have on who we are and how we journey through life. What kind of influence are you on others? What are you letting influence you on your journey?

I want to share three things in my life. First is the Typos Tackled. For those that read my blog pretty quick out of the bon, you may notice there are a few typos (there are no typos in my head, only coming from my fingers.) I could say I leave them there so those that are so obsessed with finding typos will not be disappointed. But the real reason is I just need to be better at proofing my work. I am not the best typist, but fortunately I now someone who is – I married her. So every so often, Lisa reads my work and will point out where I fell short of perfection (her specialty). So, thanks to her and her influence, my brilliant writings now be better. As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (look it up, it is in Proverbs)

Second influence this week, the wind. In the past couple of days, Frisco has been hit hard with thunderstorms and wind gusts up in to the 50s mph. The wind howls at night, whips down the corridors of the apartments, and has toppled a few of the trees in the subdivision. The wind has gone, but some of the effects remain. I can look back over my life and realize that many people have influenced me; and though they may no longer be around me, their influence remains. My family, friends in school, my youth pastors, professors with whom I served, friends from each church I served, and coworkers. People cross our path every day – some have more influence than others. And your influence on others also varies. So the question is what kind of influence are you? Be the type that impacts others even after you are no longer around them.

And the last influence – traditions trimmed. This may not be what you are thinking. I am referring to my beard. I started a second job this week and they require no beard. I had to shave my goatee. I looked in my FB photo albums, and the most recent one I had with me showing my manly cleft chin was when Calvin was still in diapers – over 24 years ago. 24 years. Part of me is missing. It is weird. The type of influence here is the norms put on us by society – work, school, style expectations, or more. We know there will be influence from society, but the point is to be selective in what you allow. I did not have to take this job. But it is a strong Christian company where I might be a good influence on others as well. So it was my choice to take the job and trim my facial hair. (If you see me, please do not stare at my chin – still a little self conscious.)

Influence – we all have it happen to us – and we all have the opportunity to have on others. Make the best of it. Live for Christ and let Him influence others through you.