There’s power in pictures, isn’t there? There’s power in voice too. Music, commercials, entertainment, billboards, social media. You get my point, marketing agencies and social media have made a really great living using the power of influence to lead and direct us to shape our minds about what we need and the lifestyle we should chase after. Consider these~
- Insurance can make us happy
- Owning a Lincoln will make us feel like we’re as famous as Matthew McConaughey.
- Drink Coke and you’ll have friends and tons of fun.
As leaders we need to be thoughtful about what and who influences kids and families. Whether you’ve thought about it much or not as a ministry leader, the marriages that kids and students witness, have a huge influence on how they view relationships and they type of marriage they will have in the future.
[Tweet “The success and fall-out of families, kids, and people because of the influence of marriages are significant and worth talking about.”] What you do matters. How you pour into your marriage matters. Because at the end of the day, our influence is more powerful than we’d like to believe.
Here are three simple ideas that I think are worth considering when we think about the collective influence of our marriages in our churches and communities.
A) . Created for a purpose:
Marriage is a mirror, intended to help us become all that God created us to be! In his book, Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas suggests that marriage is not meant to make us happy, but to make us holy (doesn’t sound super fun, but hang with me). God created us with great delight and has a plan and a purpose for us. Psalm 139 says,
“You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body. When I was put together there, 16 you saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one days old.”
Our marriages have been established by God and designed to be a reflection of the incredible love God has for us in Jesus Christ. This is why the gospel helps us to understand marriage and marriage helps us to understand the gospel. Eph 5:31-32 reflects this: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church.”
[Tweet “Our marriages have GREAT purpose to influence and point people to Jesus, AS WELL AS, companionship, intimacy, fun and filling the earth.”]
Question: Do people see how crazy God is for them through your marriage, by the way you love each other and those around you? Do your kids see how vast God’s love is because of your marriage? What about the marriages in your church? Are you helping couples grow intentionally in their marriages?
B) . We Don’t Live In A Vacuum:
We are all interconnected. Everything we do effects someone else. Think about yawning… even right now, just the mention of yawning has influenced some of you to yawn. One of the biggest lies we can buy into is the lie that our actions aren’t hurting anyone. Or the ripple effects that one small act of kindness can have on an entire day or family.
A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to hear David Salyer, the head of marketing for Chick Fila. He talked about the ripple effect of what happens when someone in the drive-up line pays for the meal for the car behind them. It’s become such a big thing at CF, that once someone starts the ripple, they keep track of the number of cars that “pay it back”. The highest number they’ve recorded in one day is, 183!!! Talk about the power of positive influence!
See here’s the thing; culture, vision, attitudes, behaviors, character is caught, not taught! Every thing we do or say has a direct effect on the people around us. This isn’t just theory, there is actually scientific data that proves this.
Nicholas Christakis, an American sociologist and physician is known for his research on social networks (click here for his TedTalk on social networks) and how social networks affect our health. He says in his study that; an idea or a norm can be adopted – our opinions begin to change about what is acceptable behavior (for instance: if we have people in our sphere of influence that gossip, judge, or are angry. OR people that are happy, generous, kind, thoughtful. These behaviors and attributes become integrated into our own behavior).
Here’s what’s so interesting to me and should be to all of us as we consider how to mentor, equip and help marriaged couples; Influence is not limited to the people in our immediate circles. Studies show that humans form and create super organisms. See, like a quilt, we’re all connected. Sad and happy people cluster together. Whether we believe it or not, there is scientific proof that we have significant influence on the people around us. One way or another.
Question: In your marriage are you helping your kids, your family, your friends, your co-workers and those in your church to live a life on purpose? [Tweet “Is your marriage influencing those around you to recognize and acknowledge Jesus?”] What are the ripple of effects of the way I treat my spouse, the way we’re equipping and helping parents of the kids in our ministries have great marriages?
The culture and climate of our homes cannot raise any higher than the level of enthusiasm of our marriages!
Jane Goodall, anthropologist, put it this way: “What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.
C) Approach every day with the end in mind.
We have the opportunity every day, every moment to make a difference. Maybe you feel like I do; I’m just me, I’m nothing special, I’m just a wife, mom, grammy and for some reason God has allowed me to lead incredible teams of people. Maybe you’ve made some decisions that have left you feeling like you don’t have the right to speak into other peoples lives, that somehow your past disqualifies you from being an influence. Of course, that’s just a lie, because in Christ we have hope and we are not defined by our pasts (the work of freedom requires us to work through forgiveness, trust and unconditional love. If you are currently are in the midst of a difficult season, seek help and do the hard work of restoration). Romans 8:1 says, “…there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
What if we changed our focus from the past or even the present and focused on the end? What if we started living in our marriages the way we want them to look at the end of our lives? What if we started leading out of our marriages and for those that are single, out of our singleness? What if we started raising and leading our kids the way we want them to turn out, instead of guessing how they will turn out? What if we all became champions for every marriage regardless of our own marriage status?
When we think with the end in mind, it changes the way we approach today. It changes how we lead, informs what we do and don’t do in our ministries for families and it keeps us laser focused on the vision we have for our kids… for every kid, student and parent we minister to.
[Tweet “What kind of a marriage do you want? Fun, kind, thoughtful, steamy, intimate, collaborative, loving, patient, unselfish, forgiving, trustworthy, truthful? Be what you want!”]
Do you want children that will grow up and have that kind of marriage and experience? ☺ Then train them up by reflecting the things you want them to be! Remember culture and vision are caught, not taught. Your kids are sponges and they soak up whatever is poured out of you.
In my role of Family Pastor, every week I see the power of influence parents have in the lives of kids. I think it’s a good practice to daily ask ourselves what kind of influence we want to be in the lives of the people around us.
Our goal in Family Ministry (or any ministry for that matter) shouldn’t just be to provide great weekly experiences for kids to learn about and be pointed to Jesus. Our greater goal is to inspire every leader, and every parent to be intentional with every moment. Make every moment a teachable moment. You are an incredible resource, be the very best you God created you to be. Here’s the other truth: You aren’t the only spiritual influence in the kids in your ministry. Parents have exceedingly more time with their kids than you do as a ministry leader. It just makes since to equip and resource them to their biggest potential.
We know that when you live out the gospel through your marriage, you’re going to pour it into your kids and the kids all around you! You become the standard for the kind of husband, or the kind of wife that kids and students will grow up and become. You become the standard for the type of people they choose to date, the way they will expect to be treated by someone of the opposite sex. You become the standard for the type of parent they will be. [Tweet “The influence of our marriages is powerful, much more powerful then we give it credit for or would even like to admit.”]
So here’s the challenge:
- Take some time to evaluate what kind of influence you and your marriage is having on the people around you.
- What is one thing you can do this week for your spouse and for your marriage that would shift the type of influence your marriage has on the people closest to you?
- As a leader, what are you doing to elevate marriage in your community and ministry. How are you equipping singles and marrieds alike, to have the marriage that God designed and desires?