A young man preached his heart out. He was barely 23 years old and this was his first gospel meeting. How his heart did beat when he received the invitation to come and preach for the small group of brethren in this little community. Visions of huge crowds, high excitement, lots of responses filled his head as he contemplated the coming event. When the time came he was almost out of breath with excitement.
Although the crowds were fair, there was seemingly very little excitement during the meeting. Brethren listened attentively, but their reaction was basically one of quiet politeness. He preached his heart out for two weeks. When the meeting was concluded, one person–a little girl 12 years old obeyed the gospel. He was discouraged, disappointed.
Before returning home, he called together the Elders of the little congregation and apologized to them. “ I guess I’m not as far along as I thought I was,” he said, “I’m sorry for the fact that only one person responded to the invitation.” “I’ll try and do better the next time–that is if there is a next time,” he said. The Elders sought in vain to console him as he went on his way.
Years past. The little girl grew up. She married a fine Christian man. To this union was born five sons. All five of the sons became gospel preachers. Through their efforts thousands of people learned about Jesus and obeyed the gospel.
All this, because of the effort of one young, inexperienced gospel preacher.
Influence is interesting. You never know how much you have or what that influence may accomplish. Even people who think themselves to have very little of it have been known to have a profound effect on the lives of others. And influences are not always huge, either. Lots of times it’s little acts that impress us. And many times we don’t even realize our influence is being felt.
One thing is certain: we need to learn that there’s power in influence–power for good, power for evil. You have such power. So do I. For instance, if you’re an older person, chances are younger people are watching you and some of them are apt to follow your example, whether you know it or not. If you are younger, there are still kids who are younger still who may well be patterning their lives after you. So it’s important to “watch out where you’re going” as my Dad used to say. How sad it would be to lead some person down the wrong path.
Paul, in I Corinthians 11:1, said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” The best following you will ever do is following Christ. And the best example you can possibly be is one where Christ is the dominant feature in your life. Lead yourself well and you’ll lead others well.
And you don’t have to be a gospel preacher to preach the gospel. All you need is a love for the souls of men, coupled with a burning desire to make the words of Jesus known. We need to be so fascinated by the gospel that we can hardly keep from telling people about it. Further, that gospel should have such an effect on us personally that it’s obvious to all that we belong to the Lord, and that He alone guides our footsteps.
“And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles….therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8). I fear the gospel message doesn’t influence us like it did them. One small rejection and we’re apt to quit. And our folding up in our obligation may well cause someone else to do so as well. We can do better. We must do better. We have to be like the early saints and keep on teaching.
How’s our influence for good? Do others see Jesus living in us? Do they see the joy we have in seeking and serving Him? Do we shrink back at the slightest set-back? We may not know how much influence we’re having, but we do know that it’s right to keep on trying. It might turn out like the young preacher, who knows?
~From Dee Bowman