Over the weekend, I embarked on a trip to a relatively remote part of the country- and oh my! What a trip it was. For someone who is “indoorsy” and not a fan of long road trips (many reasons why, long story), the bad roads, uncomfortable seats and heat didn’t exactly help to make the whole experience positively memorable- until something happened.
We were about an hour plus from our destination when the driver of our “sienna” stopped to pick a man. One of us in our traveling party was seated in the front passenger seat that was supposed to take two people (in the actual sense, it’s supposed to seat one- but Nigeria being Nigeria). She got down for the other person to enter first so she could follow suit. But this person refused to go in.
If you’ve ever sat double in the front passenger seat (designed to seat one person) and closest to the driver, you’ll understand how inconvenient it can be to be seated closest to the driver, what with the almost constant need to change gears. But this was not this man’s primary concern. His major issue was that he would not take the space offered because by virtue of being a man, he ought to take the better seat- the seat closest to the window.
Never mind that he said it with the smugness of a man used to bullying women, this lady refused to be cowed. As no one was in the frame of mind to suffer more delay on the road, we shortly zoomed off, leaving our would be passenger to choke on exhaust and pride.
My people talked about the incident for a few minutes. It may have been on the minds of some of us for a little longer. But that Incident stayed on my mind for almost the whole weekend.
Why? Well, according to Tim LaHaye’s classification of personalities in his book Spirit Controlled Temperament, I happen to be a Phleg-Mel (i.e. a mix of Phlegmatic and Melancholic character traits). We’re sweet (thank you very much!) and we have our strengths, but one character flaw (which I can tell you a lot about) is the tendency to avoid confrontations.
At first glance, it’s a beautiful trait to have, innit? To always be the one who doesn’t get into fights or shouting matches. To always be the peacemaker in the room. The truth is, if you’re ever going to stand for anything in this life, then you’ll have to be ready to get in the faces of at least a few people. No one has ever made a statement, for self and/or for God, who constantly keels over at the first sign of trouble.
Heck, you can’t even be an effective peacemaker if you’re not willing to wade into conflict and shove middle ground in the face of whoever needs to find it.
Anyways, the Holy Spirit had brought to my notice how much of a problem this was. That incident served to bring to my remembrance (and forcefully) how urgently I needed to deal with that character flaw. Now she didn’t know it, but her actions were passing across a strong message to someone who was watching.
As I thought more about it, a follow up query came to mind. What message is your life passing across?
For just as through one man’s (Adam) disobedience [his failure to hear, his carelessness] the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of the one Man (Jesus) the many will be made righteous and acceptable to God and brought into right standing with Him.Romans 5:19 (AMP)
Adam may not have known it or fully understood it, but his actions in the Garden of Eden did not only change his own relationship with God, it also influenced how every human would henceforth relate with God.
You may think that no one is watching you, or that no one is getting influenced by your actions (and inactions). If you’re a leader, people are most certainly watching you. If you’re a Christian, people are most certainly watching you, no matter how small your circle of influence may seem. If you’re a parent, you’re literally under a 24-hour surveillance.
There are people watching to see how you handle certain circumstances and challenges. These things they see would go ahead to, consciously or sub-consciously, influence the decisions they make.
You are more than just you. The actions you take have far reaching effects that exceed you. The actions we take are seeds that drop into the lives of people. It should not be that a bad fruit that shows forth in a person’s life some years down the line came from something they saw you do.
Everyone is a full-time influencer. If your circle of influence follows you as you follow Christ, then you should have no fear of leading anyone astray.