There’s one regret I have that I wish I could go back and change. It’s an answer to a question. I kick myself every time I think of it.
I sat in a principal’s office for a job interview. I wanted the job so badly because I would share a contract as a kindergarten teacher. I was almost willing to say anything just so he would hire me.
But the question he asked is burned into my memory: “Who is the most influential person in a child’s life?”
Influence Goes Both Ways
That’s easy! I was confident in my answer because if you spend five minutes on a Google search, you’ll see it’s the parents. With that in mind, I proudly answered, “The parents, of course.”
He didn’t look satisfied. “Oh, yea?” he said. “What if the child has parents who are bad influences? Who is the greatest influence then?”
I was confused. Isn’t a bad influence still an influence?
But that’s not the answer he wanted. He wanted me to choose a greater influence; a positive influence. He wanted me to tell him I would be the biggest influence in a child’s life.
So, I did. And now I regret it. Oh, and another thing … he didn’t hire me. I should totally email him and tell him my REAL answer.
This may sound confusing to you, but hear me out. As a teacher, I am a HUGE influence in my student’s lives. But for the record, parents will always be the greatest influence (or guardians). And I realized during that interview that the principal, like many people, only equate influence to positives.
And that’s just not true.
According to the dictionary, influence means “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development or behavior of someone else”. Again, that doesn’t mean it will always be good.
A Woman’s Influence
I never realized how influential women are until the last few years. Please don’t take offense to that. I just mean women are highly influential and very powerful and it has become more obvious to me as I gained a better knowledge and understanding of our purpose through God’s word.
He made us to have great influence. The question we have to wrestle with is what kind of influence do we want to be?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it until my last breath … the world holds a different standard when it comes to influence. It’s always going to be measured by beauty, possessions and accomplishment.
But none of that has a lasting impact.
The Key to Lasting Influence
Disney has always been big on Prince Charming. He’s the one who came and swept Snow White off her feet. So, I grew up thinking charm was a good thing. But then I read Proverbs 31.
If you read my blog post “Secret Weapon” from a few weeks back, you probably remember me saying Proverbs 31 was not written for women. It was written by a mother to her son. She gives him several things to look for in a wife.
At the end of Proverbs 31, you will see her final words to him and they sum up the influence a woman has in this word. Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.”
If we want our influence to be lasting and positive, it will not have anything to do with what can be seen. It will always refer to matters of the heart and the character of a righteous life.
Anyone who knows me knows I work on my outward appearance. And if I’m being honest, working out for my health is secondary to working out because I want to look good. It’s just the truth. But, I don’t mind that the benefit is good health.
When I read the words “beauty is passing”, I cringe. I wish it wasn’t so. I wish our beauty wouldn’t fade and our youthful appearance would last forever. But I also think there’s a great opportunity in the ability to influence others long after our beauty fades.
If we only rely on appearances to influence, the influence we have will only last as long as the outward remains youthful.
A Culture of Influence
When I started my page on Instagram, there’s an option to choose “influencer” as the description of your page. Do you know how many influencers are out there? Too many to count.
This world places so much value on beauty, success, and achievement. It gets confusing. We feel like our influence has to be based on how we dress, what we accomplish and how many letters that follow our name.
Men care about how they look, but women spend more money and more time on their appearance overall. If you look up the latest statistics, you’ll see that the cosmetic industry is the most successful industry in the world.
We care how we look. Is that wrong? I don’t think so, but the point I want to make is that appearance doesn’t influence.
Peter tells women how to have true beauty and lasting influence. 1 Peter 3:3-4 says, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
It’s countercultural to place value on the influence of our inner selves. But if you go back to Proverbs 31:30, we see that a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. And that kind of influence has lasting impact.
My challenge to you today is to remember that influence goes both ways. As women, we have powerful influence over those in our lives. But it doesn’t mean that influence is always positive. And because it’s not, we have the responsibility to be the kind of influence God wants us to be.
Listen my friend, I care about how I look. But I want to be the kind of influence the principal who interviewed me wants me to be … the greatest influence in the lives of others. That can only happen when we fear the Lord.
So remember, when you look in the mirror to apply your makeup or fix your hair … don’t forget to address the unfading beauty of the inner self. Be the greatest influence and let others sing your praises.
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