Beyond influence, into love.

by Kari on July 10, 2013

women praying

For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ through the gospel.

1 Corinthians 4:15

Sometimes I have wondered:

Why is it that some people can so powerfully influence me, more than others? 

What I mean is this: The world is teeming with advice. Under every rock and in every nook and cranny is another person offering advice. Do this, don’t do that. Try this method, don’t try this method. And some of it’s great. But often I find that even the best advice doesn’t “stick” very well. I hear it, I know (sometimes) that it’s true, but I don’t feel compelled to follow. Or, worse, I actually want to go the other way. Sometimes, depending upon the method or the way something’s presented, it actually makes me want to run.

“Quit trying to just fix me! I’m not a broken down car!”  That’s the secret inside-feeling I get sometimes. Have you ever felt that way?

But a few weeks ago I realized why.

We have countless guides (advice dispensers) but not many Mamas (or sisters) in the faith. (1 Cor. 4:15)

A few weeks ago a dear friend took me out for a treat. She is a trusted, treasured older-sister type friend who I admire beyond words. She’s raised tremendous kids, has stood by her man in beautiful ways, and is an example to many of a godly woman.

And you know the best part?

She isn’t trying to fix me. 

You know what she’s trying to do?

Love me.

With beautiful self-forgetfulness she just wanted to bless me, spend time with me, be with me … love me. And as the hours went by I found myself pouring out questions for her–things I’d stored up in my heart but had never had the courage to ask people. And here I was, sitting beside her in our pedicure chairs, spilling out question after question. Basically saying,

“Influence me, please!”

Her answers were simple. Not shoulds or oughts but simple biblical truths and tried and tested wisdom. Best of all, I could feel that every word came from a place, not of trying to fix me or make me like her, but out of love.

Love trumps influence every single time. 

Please understand: I’m not saying influence is bad. It’s awesome! We’re called to influence others for Christ! And certainly we can be influenced from afar, by people we admire, even people who are dead! But usually we are influenced by them because they love well or did love well during their lifetime. Jesus, of course, is the primary example of this. His greatest goal was not merely to influence us from afar, but to love us right where we are.

See, if only have influence as our goal, we’ve got the wrong goal. 

If we aim only for influence, we likely won’t reach either one. If we aim straight for love, we’ll get both.

Why? Because influence is always the fruit of relationship. The reason my dear parents have influenced my life more than any other human beings is because they loved me with a crazy-amazing love. The reason my discipler/mentor/friend has dramatically affected my life is not because she had all the right answers, but because she loves me. The reason I hang on every word that Paul & Pam Hunter speak is because they have loved me for 28 years.  It’s cliche but true and worth repeating: People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.

The world will know we are Christ’s disciples, not by our influence, but by our love for one another.

All the influence in the world will not change people.

Love changes people.

{Who can you love today? Just for today, suspend your urge to advise, fix, counsel. Just love, just for today. Thanks for reading.}