Influence: beyond impact.

My generation grow up being told we can make an IMPACT. I’m realizing its far better to grow and wield INFLUENCE.

Impact is more apparent, easily measured, and makes us feel better about ourselves. Business people, coaches, and churches all talk about “making an impact.” Few talk about how impactful things cause collateral damage (like meteorites and car collisions). Or how people wanting to make an name for themselves and leave their mark on history do things to compensate for their insecurity like have their face engraved on money — as the Roman Caesars did.

We built up to impact, but then what?

Influential things cannot be as easily measured, but their effect reaches far beyond the moment of interaction. Influential people listen more than talk, give more than they receive. The people who have influenced me the most in life are those who weren’t aiming to make an impact; they were just being faithful and had the courage to persevere in dire circumstances. It sounds so exciting to make an impact, but my money is now on the people who are so compelling by their serving and sacrifice, that their words carry great weight.

Influential people grow towards impact and then disappear, pointing people past themselves. Impact was never the goal, but a byproduct, a result of their steadiness, consistency, courage and generosity. Influential people may feel they haven’t done much or “not enough,’ though those who get caught up in their wake all agree the influence of their life was immeasurable.

Truly influential people have come to realize it’s not great talents that God blesses, as much as great likeness to Jesus.

  • Who has influenced you?
  • Have you recently expressed gratitude to that person?
  • How are you influencing the people around you? 


Photo credits:

“The scars of impacts on Mars” by europeanspaceagency

“12 Caesars” by Joe Geranio

“Wake” by Beardy Git


4 steps to good decisions.

From Matt Perman, “4 Steps to Good Decision Making“:

  1. Understand the objectives
  2. Consider the alternatives
  3. Consider risk
  4. Decide

He summarizes: “Very basic, to be sure. But it is surprising how often we go into important decisions haphazardly, without taking an intentional (albeit simple) approach.”

For an over-analyzer like me — who thinks through opportunities, risks, and rewards on every little thing — this streamlines things. Plus, for those of us prone to living in the past (“hindsight is always 20/20” is actually a dumb adage, don’t you think?), second-guessing our decisions that are not of a moral nature, we can confidently move into the future knowing that no real damage has been done. When you consider the options to good decision-making, a little process is worth the risk.

Go … you are now free to make good decisions. (In the good will of God.)

The purpose in life is not to find yourself. It is to lose yourself.

Borrowing from the post this morning, here’s the conclusion to David Brooks’ NY Times op-ed column:

Today’s grads enter a cultural climate that preaches the self as the center of a life. But, of course, as they age, they’ll discover that the tasks of a life are at the center. Fulfillment is a byproduct of how people engage their tasks, and can’t be pursued directly. Most of us are egotistical and most are self-concerned most of the time, but it’s nonetheless true that life comes to a point only in those moments when the self dissolves into some task. The purpose in life is not to find yourself. It’s to lose yourself.

(Emphasis added.)

Some of the best advice: it is not about you.

graduationNew college grads enter a world full of uncertainties, in a system not structured to automatically achieve their perceived “success.” Even in a first world, the job market will not cater to new grads’ every whim. And yet, what consistent message has the millennial generation heard? It’s all about you.

They’ve been coached, tutored and coddled into thinking the world is in fact their oyster. Who’s to blame them if we’ve trained them to think their role is the key one, and we’re all just minor characters in their big story? The vocabulary of ‘self,’ of ‘freedom’ and ‘autonomy’ are what makes up an illusory world, one we’ve built for them. (‘They’ are us, and we are them.) Perhaps I’m a bit cynical, but the consistent message spun by boomers to their kids (in general) will actually lead to their demise. The problem here is not early twentysomethings, it’s the raw bill of goods we’ve sold them. We have told them half-truths we needed to say to feel good about ourselves.

Once again, David Brooks of the NY Times hits the nail on the head:

Worst of all, they are sent off into this world with the whole baby-boomer theology ringing in their ears. If you sample some of the commencement addresses being broadcast on C-Span these days, you see that many graduates are told to: Follow your passion, chart your own course, march to the beat of your own drummer, follow your dreams and find yourself. This is the litany of expressive individualism, which is still the dominant note in American culture.

But, of course, this mantra misleads on nearly every front.

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Happy Tensions: WHOs & DOs

I’ve been re-posting some of my favorite articles. Here’s one you may enjoy.

What do you think Christianity is? How do you read the Bible?

It is quite easy to think of the Bible as a book of rules — things to DO. Yet, it is far greatest The Story of God, of His coming near to us, and in that way is not primarily about us. The Bible is about GOD. And not just facts, figures and fables — as if God were a science experiment, a idea to be calculated, quantified and categorized. In reality, God has acted in history — in this real world — and as we read Scripture we discover the stories are true, the characters are generally failures, and God is always faithful. That’s step one, reading the Bible as if it’s about God and not just “me.” Of course, it must be experienced, taken into our whole lives, if we are to learn what God says.

There’s another needed emphasis, more likened to a simple priority: know the WHOs before the DOs. Jesus came to show us the way by BEING the way. No five step (or 12) plan for salvation here (though obedience and life-change is progressive and gradual). He’s the plan, the whole plan. So when we read, we see the what, why, how, and especially the Who of God’s Story.
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Happy Tensions: Head + Heart

Christianity refuses to choose between head and heart. It is both head and heart. It is intellectually credible (if you would take time to study), as well as experientially pleasing. Christ fills our heads, and captivates our hearts. God’s Word forces us to think deeply, but touches us on the deepest level. It is real, and must be experience in real-time.

We each are drawn towards one direction. Be tethered to both. Those who detach the two are either swimming in a sea of religion, or being swept away in an ocean of mysticism.

Know God.

Love Him.

Enjoy Him.

Fill your mind with Him, and never stop swimming in the depths of His love, truth, and taking others to take the plunge with you. We were meant to know God, cognitively and experientially. And we were meant to do that with others, pointing others to Him. God wants to be known. Do you know Him? Do others know Him because of you?

Happy Tensions: What, Why, How … Who!

The Bible specifically tells us the What & Why of God’s revelation, and in many ways reveals to us the How (as well as they where, when, etc.). It is a collection of God’s specifically written 66 books packed with narrative, the great themes of God’s revelation, propositional truths, and a whole lot more, for all Scripture is “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” ( 2 Timothy 3:16 ). Why? So the people of God will be thoroughly equipped for all of life (every good work, v. 17).

What, Why, How ... WHO!

Related to this, let us consider a different perspective or facet related to What, Why & How, especially related to communicating God’s true Word (preaching, teaching, etc.). For right now let’s think of “What” as the truths of Scripture, the essential doctrines . “Why” would be the theological perspectives and reasons behind these truths . “How” represents principles for godly living derived from Scripture (based on the What & Why), for life application.

But there is still something missing – rather, “Who” is missing?
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