A man took the bus to work. Since rain was predicted, he went to get the umbrella, but his wife stopped him.
“You have taken every umbrella we have and haven’t brought a single one back home. I need that umbrella for my running around today. Just hope it doesn’t rain before you get to work.”
He caught his bus, and by the time he was approaching his stop, the bottom fell out. It was pouring and he had a two-block walk to his office. Then he noticed a gentle Quaker sitting across from him with an umbrella propped in his seat.
The man thought, “That Quaker is a peaceful man. If I grab his umbrella, he won’t oppose me. I’ll just borrow his.”
The bus came to his stop, the man got up, grabbed the Quaker’s umbrella and took off down the street, leaving the Quaker staring in disbelief.
That afternoon, the man remembered to grab the other six umbrellas he left at the office. When he caught the bus, he sat down and realized he was sitting across from the very same Quaker man. The Quaker noted his collection of umbrellas and said, “Thou hast had a very good day, huh?”
Like it or not, people watch us and notice what we do. You never know who is watching; thus, we should always be on our best behavior. Several years ago, I took my son to the video store one Friday night to let him pick out a movie. As he was looking, I read movie jackets in another part of the store. A man walked over to me and said, “Hello, preacher.”
I could not place this person, but we talked, and he said he visited our worship service about a year ago. He knew me, but I didn’t remember meeting him. I was just thankful he caught me in the family video section.
Then in the grocery store, I passed this friendly lady who spoke like she knew me. She recognized my picture from her newspaper running this column. We visited and became acquainted, and I had the opportunity to invite her to church. I do a lot of socializing in the grocery store.
Another time I walked into an office and the kind administrative assistant said, “Aren’t you David Chancey?”
I responded, “Yes, I am. Please tell me who you are.”
She gave me her name and told me she recognized me from my picture in the paper. She said she enjoyed reading this column.
On still an earlier occasion, I had an opportunity to walk into a different office and another lady asked, “Aren’t you David Chancey?”
I told her I was and asked her name. We had a great visit as she told me she read the column and had even used some stories in her Sunday School lesson from time to time. She teaches a ladies’ class at the Methodist Church.
I promise you each occasion did not stroke my ego. Instead, realizing people know who I am and Whom I’m supposed to represent scares me to death. The fact people are watching how I conduct myself scares me to death, also.
The Bible says, “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise” (Ephesians 5:15, NLT). We Christ-followers must live like Christ-followers because others are always watching.
Every one of us has influence, and we are in the process of influencing someone for the better or for worse. Sociologists tell us that even the most introverted of us will influence 10,000 people during his or her lifetime. Unbelievable!
Influence is a mystery. J.R. Miller put it well: “There have been meetings of only a moment which have left impressions for life, for eternity. No one can understand that mysterious thing we call influence, yet every one of us continually exerts influence, either to heal, to bless, to leave marks of beauty; or to wound, to hurt, to poison, to stain other lives.”
The lesson is, as we live each day, we touch countless lives. We have the privilege of helping folks or hurting folks, of pointing people to Jesus or giving them an excuse for not following Jesus. Which do you do?
[David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. The church family invites you to worship with them at 10 a.m. each Sunday at 352 McDonough Road. View online worship options at www.mcdonoughroad.org. Check out Chancey’s other writings at www.davidchancey.com.]