Pastor’s Post – WE ARE STEWARDS OF INFLUENCE (9-18-16)

Grace and peace to you and yours from God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

A couple of weeks ago I went to the carwash in our neighborhood. In front of me was a pickup truck with loose “stuff” in the bed. He couldn’t go through the carwash that way.  So the attendant began to cover material in the back with a vinyl covering he’d pulled out of the truck bed, something the driver should have taken care of before he got into the carwash line.

This whole process was taking what felt to me to be an inordinate amount of time. The owner of the carwash came out to see what the hold-up was, and appropriately told another one of his employees to open a second lane. Unfortunately it was the three cars now backed up behind me who were shifted over while I sat and watched the never ending job of securing the junk in the back of this pickup truck in front of me.

By the time pickup finally was able to move forward and it was my turn, I was steamed. I shared my frustration and anger at being held up all that time because the inconsiderate guy in front of me didn’t secure the things in the bed of his pickup truck, and at the attendant who merely reinforced this inconsiderate behavior by “coming to the rescue” at the expense of five minutes out of my day. And then, on top of that, the people behind me got to go through before me. It just wasn’t fair!  As too often happens, a moment when I could have been an influence for God and for good was missed. I should have handled that situation better, but I blew it, and gave in to my selfish emotions.

This week I came across an essay by Rick Warren, the Southern Baptist pastor who is the author of The Purpose Driven Life among many other books. I’ve come to value his ministry and had the opportunity to attend his pastors’ seminar. It’s not all applicable to the Lutheran context, but he is a great encourager of pastors.  This most recent essay is entitled How to Be a Good Steward of Your Influence. Rick wrote,

Everything you have is a gift from God – your health, your life, your salvation, your freedom, your friends, your family, your opportunities. God expects you to make the most of the things He gives you. The word for  that in the Bible is called “stewardship.” Stewardship is the Old English word for “management.” And just as you manage your time and your money, you also manage your influence.

            God expects me to manage the influence I have been given! In the situation at the car wash I had the opportunity to be an influence for God and good. Instead I was just an angry frustrated customer. I blew it. Rick reminded me that all of us are given opportunities to be an influence for God and for good in the world in the countless situations of our daily lives.  Rick wrote,

In Matthew 5:16, Jesus says, ‘Let your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven.’ Jesus doesn’t want you to waste your influence. You don’t buy a lamp and then hide it. You don’t get a lightbulb and then never use it. In the same way, it’s wasteful to refuse to use your influence.”

            There are three things you can do to maximize your ability to influence situations for God and for good in the world: recognize that you do have influence (I have a light to shine), exercise your influence as a believer in daily life (shine your light), and maximize your influence by speaking up for those who have little or no influence. This is what we see in the Prophet Amos in this Sunday’s first reading. He uses his influence by speaking up against those who were cheating the poor of the land: “Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end…” (Amos 8:4) We are all stewards of influence. God puts all of us in situations where we can be focused on His will or our own selfish desires. Rick puts it this way, “You were put here to be an influence for good. God wants you to do that…”

God’s blessings!
Pastor Joe Hughes                  Voice & text:  217-898-9063                   Email: