No matter who you're there are people who are watching you, they're listening to the words that you say, they're watching how you handle things. You are being an influence on someone else whether you intend to be or not. This last October our staff went on a retreat, and whenever we go on a retreat several months before I give them all about a book and I asked them to read it, and then we gathered together sometime on the retreat to discuss the different chapters of the book.
How to be a Good Influence
This year, we looked at a book called multipliers by Liz Wiseman and in that book she talks about the best leaders are ones who multiplies somebody's talents, gifts, abilities by the way that they relate to them. In fact she says all leader fall into one of two categorize. You're either a multiplier that makes someone better at what they're doing, or you're a diminisher, one that stifles somebody's abilities by always having to have your way or always trying to take credit for what they're doing or always putting them down and criticizing them. And all of us fall into one of those two categorize. We're either multipliers or we're diminishes.
Reminds me of a book I read about 35 years ago by Gordon MacDonald which is called Renewing Your Spiritual Passion, and in that book he talks about the people in our lives either help us to be more passionate for Christ or they take us away from that, and what he talked about is he talked about there are people who are triple pluses, and the triple pluses they ignite or they inspire our passion for Jesus Christ, and then he talked about those who serve with us and called them double pluses.
These are the people who share our passion for Christ and he said you need to be around people who inspire you passion for Christ and share your passion for Christ, and then he said you need to pass that on to others who catch our passion for Christ, and there're single plus and it's encouraging to us to see the next generation, catch on to that and so in one of those categories on that side of the line but also in that book talked about there are some people and he just basically said they're zeros in terms of their impact on us for our passion for Christ.
He calls these very resourceful people, the triple pluses, the very important people, the double pluses and the very teachable people those who catch our passion, he calls these the very nice people. They just seat and watch. They're spectators by the way in the church there are a lot of people like these in the church, they don't serve, they don't give they're just watching, and they don't add anything and they don't take anything away, and then he talks about a final category and he calls these are very draining people and these are people who sap your passion for Christ.
When they come in they just suck the air out of the room, because they're always criticizing, they're always putting down, they don't do anything for the course of Christ but they criticize anybody whose taking the risk to do something for the course of Christ.
Now here's a real question today. All of us influence others, all of us bring an energy to bear or are we take energy away? Are you more on this part of the continuum or are you more on this part? Talk about in your marriage, in your parenting, where you go to school and where you work. Are you a triple plus person? Are you one of those negative persons? Are you a multiplier or are you a diminisher?
If you have your Bibles with you, I'd invite you to turn with me to 1 Thessalonians, the second chapter and we're going to look, beginning in verse 10 where Paul is writing to the church there, and he writes these words, he says you are witnesses and so is God, out of Bradley and uprightly and blamelessly we behave towards you believers: just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
Well the first thing he does, is he tells us in the scripture, the purpose of encouraging one another. Look there in verse 12 again it says, so that you would walk in a manner worthy. You know whenever we talk about encouraging others, and I'm going to use that word encouraging as a center name for influencing, as the Bible does. Whenever we think about encouraging people, we think about just saying nice things to people to make them feel good but that's not the purpose of true biblical encouragement.
How to Encourage
True Biblical encouragement is to energize someone, to cause them to walk in a manner worthy of the calling of God on their life. It is again, my question, because people know you are the more likely or they less likely to follow Christ? Not just to become a Christian, but to live a christian life. Are you encouraging people? Are you influencing people to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel? It's not about making people feel good, it's not about boosting someone self esteem, you see someone self esteem is going to be taken care of when they walk with the Lord. They're going to feel better when they walk with the lord, let's not treat the symptoms, let's treat the cause and let's influence people, let's encourage people to not only accept Chirst, but to live for Christ. As a supervisor here the church has about seven people that I supervise and I meet with them on a regular basis, we call them coaching sessions and when they come to those coaching sessions, they're to bring one sheet of paper with them, not two, not three, and all they are to do is answer three questions, and those three questions create a format for us to talk together.
The first question they're going to answer is, what have you been doing since the last time I saw you? It gives them a chance to brag, and the truth is nobody knows what work somebody else's does, not even their supervisor, so it gives you a chance to affirm, then the second question that they answer is what are you going to spend an odd amount of attention toward until we meet again?
The number one thing according to Gallup, that employees don't know is they don't know what their supervisor expects of them, and wouldn't it be nice before they spent the next 30 or 60 days of their live, doing something to know that's actually what their supervisor wants them to do. So there is a chance to do some redirection there.
But the most important question on that coaching form is the last one and it is this. What can I do as your supervisor to help you be successful? What do you need from me? You need permission? You need more budget money? You need influence? You need an announcement? You need for me to get the heck out of your box, and stop micromanaging you? What do you need from me?
How to be Successful
It's an important question because as a supervisor my job, is to help them be successful, and I want to coach, and I want to lead in such a way that they have a better chance at being successful at their job, and they also provide someone, and their primary job is to make the people they supervise successful, and those people also supervise people, they're usually lay leaders in our church, and their job is to help those lay leaders in our church to be successful and those lay leaders, their job is to help the people they lead in our church to be successful in following after Christ.
How are you doing, in coaching, in influencing, and encouraging others? Are you a triple plus in their life? Are you a negative? Is what you're doing helping them be more likely to be successful, and the most important task that God calls us to, and that is walking the Christian life or manner that is worthy of the calling of God?
The purpose of encouragement is to help people be successful, and that to walk worthy. So who aren't we to do that? Well verse 11 tells us, look back if you will at verse 11 at the back of your worship guide.
It says just as you know how we are exhorting, and encouraging, and employing each one of you as a father would his own children. You see I've a responsibility to encourage you, to influence you, you have a responsibility to encourage and to influence the people in your life, because we're family, I mean we are. Some of you are in that time of life right now where your kids are going off, the last kid is going off to college, and you kind of sad about that, and to some of you it's a really traumatic experience to see that last kid go out of the house, but I just want to give you good news don't worry they're coming back home.
They're, they'll come back home after college, they'll come back home when they've build a home, they'll come home when their electricity goes out on their side of town, alright and you know what that's okay isn't, isn't it okay and the reason it's okay, it's because they never cease to be family, do they?
Sphere of Influence
They never cease be your kids. He says we're to influence one other, we're to encourage one other as a father would his children, when the phones rings and the caller I. D says it's one of the kids, or any family member I'm picking up, it doesn't matter what meeting I'm in, because they're family. There are people who are in this church, who are in your life group, and you have a responsibility to be intentional about influencing them, and bringing energy to them following close after Christ because, they're your brothers and sisters. I want you to do something right now, I want you to just turn the first in just a moment to your right and to your left and depending on the gender say Hello brother, Hello sister.
Just do that right now, would you? Alright come back to me, come back to me it doesn't take that long let me reel you back in, now you may have just turned to your wife and said Hello sister, because she's your wife and she's also your sister, and because we're in a larger family of God we've a responsibility, to influence one another and we are not to shut that responsibility.
Guess what, you also have brothers and sisters in China, and you have brothers and sisters in South Africa, and in Haiti, and in Mexico, and in Boston and DC, in Denver, in San Francisco, brothers and sisters, and we have a responsibility to influence them, to encourage them, so the purpose is to help people walk closer to the Lord, why? Because we are family.
Well let's talk about the how. How do we actually do, what are the nuts and bolts of encouraging and influencing one another? Once again look at verse 11. Verse 11 says just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you, as a father would his own children now there are three Greek words there in verse 11 and I want us to just look at each one of them because he didn't just put those words there, just to be putting them there. Good catch.
First of all, the first Greek word that he uses there is the word to instruct and what it says is, that sometimes we encourage one another by giving instructions. These parents just stood here on this platform, and they said we accept the responsibility of helping our children be more likely to follow, in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Well a part of that is for them to tell their children what's right, and for them to tell their children what's wrong, and that's not very popular by the way in this world today to have standards, to have absolutes, some things that are always right, some things are always wrong, cause things are very relative today, aren't they?
And that we have elevated tolerance as the number one attribute, haven't we? But friends we do not love someone if we allow someone them to so something that is harmful, to them that goes against the precepts of God, and sometimes although it sounds strange it may be different to you to think about, but the way you encourage someone and say hey, no no no don't go there, you know better than that.
You know what God's word says about that, you do that and you're going to ship wreck your life and not only are you going to hurt yourself you're going to hurt other people, do not do that. That's called instruction and the first word there in verse 11 is exhortation or instruction,and one of the ways that we influence one another, is that we teach the truth even when the truth is not popular. The second word there is a word there that can be, translated affirm. In my Bible, it's translated encouragement, the word that's kind of our theme today, but it's that time when we come alongside someone, who is doing the right thing and we affirm them in that, we catch them doing something right, and we say way to go, and once I get an E-mail from somebody in the church and they'll say something like, "Well, I know you don't need to hear this but thank you for saying this it helped me, it gave me an insight or you did this and help me", and the truth is they're wrong, I do need it, all of us need it, don't we?
For someone to come along and when we do what God calls us to what to do, when we're walking in a manner worthy for someone to say, "Hey I noticed that, God bless you in that". Not everybody sent me affirming email this week, because I'm going to tell you, I know I need it, but I'm going to tell you someone who needs it more.
There are people all around you who are obeying God in some very very tough situations, and God's spirit will move in your heart this week, and when he does, do something about it. There are people who work in our nursery here that they leave church every week with soggy, ritz crackers all over their Sunday best.
When was the last time you said, hey thank you for loving on my kids so I could hear the gospel today? They're people that work with our middle schoolers, and they work with our high schoolers, and they don't just work on weekends they go on retreats and camps some of them take their vacation, to invest in your kids and mine.
When was the last time you said at a boy and a girl thank you? When my girls were growing up and they were in middle school high school time, I thanked God everyday for the other adults who were speaking into their life, when my voice was muffled by the fact that I was their parent, and they become significant adult people in my kids' life, and their christian character is shaped in large part by those individuals, many who still go to our church today.
Thinking about a single parent, who's having to be both a mom and dad but they're doing it in a God honoring way, and you know them mean to them this week, if you came along side them and said, I'm so proud of you, I see what you're doing I know it's not easy and I know you're not perfect, but God bless you for being faithful, to what God has called you to do with those kids.
Write that card this week, make that phone call this week, drive across town, affirm those who are walking according. Then that third word that's there is a word that's guide and this is different than instruct, instruct is when you say one of these days you're going to face this situation and you need to face it or it's an exhortation that says, stop doing what you're doing, this is more in fact the word guide is a good word, because it's like you're a tour guide and a tour guide gives more of a step by step, turn by turn, kind of GPS kind of influencing or encouragement.
It means the're several things, one of the things it means is that you have to be with that person, one thing about parenting is that we do our best parenting, is we make margin in our life so that we have time to notice what's going on in our kids lives, and to be with them in those different situations, but it also means if you have a tour guide it means they've been there before.
And our best guiding comes from the fact that we have followed Christ in an area and we know what is the best thing because of that and we are telling someone not what they ought to do, but we're telling them what we are going to do with them. First way that we influence others, is we influence others with our words, but this last word about influencing them with our words bring up the second way that we influence others, and it is when we influence people with our deeds.
Look back at verse 10 if you would on the back have your worship guide, and it says, you are witnesses and so is God how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly what we behaved towards you believers. We look at 1 Thessalonians 1, 6 and 7. It says, You also became imitators of us and of the Lord having received the word and much tribulation, with the joy of the Holy Spirit so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Acadia.
What is Paul saying? He's saying, we have been an example for you to follow, so it's understanding that some people will be best influenced because of their visual learners, and they won't get it if we just say it, they're going to get it when they see it. When they see us following, and here in 1 Thessalonians it says, "and you're going to follow us as an example", and as you're following us as an example, there are folks in Macedonia and Acadia who are following you as an example and there is a trickle down, isn't there? When we not only say what people ought to do, and affirm when they do it, and guide them step by step but we're actually doing it with them.
When I was growing up, my elder brother Mark was a year and a half older than I'm, he was always a grade ahead of me, and I can't tell of what encouragement that was to me, to see my brother who accepted Christ first, and he'd already been a christian for several years when I invited Christ in my life, and he was first go to Middle School, he was first to go to High School and I saw how he was a christian and those settings it was scary to meet and go to a new campus and be a new place and wonder if I could stay the course in my christian faith, to see my other older brother might do it before me, and there's something about that, some of you who are in high school right now, there are middle schoolers and you don't even know they are watching you, but there are middle schoolers who are looking at your life.
And some of their friends are beginning to make the wrong choices and head down wrong path, and they are looking to you to see if they can grow up and be in high school, and still be faithful to God calling and still have friends, and still be happy and still be their success and those of you who are in college and some of you high school students who are watching you and they are saying what is like when you leave home and there's not the church around you all the time and there's not the peer pressure or the family around you to make sure your faithful in your faith, and some of you are setting an example for them that you can thrive in those college years, in your growth in Christ, in your impact on the world, all of us thou all of us, have someone who's on the path behind us, and they are watching us and we will encourage them, and we will influence them, we will be triple plus people in their lives not so much by what we say but much much more by what we do.
How to be a Good Influence
Final question when are we to influence others? I want to turn to Hebrews the 10th chapter verse 24, because I believe it answers the question, it says that, "let us consider how to stimulate one another to love in good deeds". Don't miss verse 25, "not forsaking our own assembling together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day drawing near" as you see the day drawing near.
What's he talking about there? Well he is talking, in this context about the second return of Jesus. He says you need to encourage one another and get together and small groups and influence one another and even more as you see the day draw near. You see when you read the scriptures in the New Testaments, you get the sneaking suspicion that the writers thought that Jesus Christ was returning in their own lifetime.
Question here, were they wrong? Well in the chronological sense you can say they were wrong, but they weren't wrong because that's exactly the agency that God wanted them to have. To say you know what we don't know when the Lord is coming back, and if we're going to be about his business be about it today, we better influence this next generation today like we don't know when he is coming back and the truth is we don't, the bible says no man knows because when the Lord is going to return but here what I believe, I believe that God wants us to have a sneaking suspicion just like they did 2000 years ago that it's in our life time.
He wants us to live with the urgency, because the truth is it could be before this service is over today, when the Lord comes back or he may wait another a thousand years, either way we need to live as if it's tomorrow and the practical reality is that for some of us it may be tomorrow, anybody here could get hit by a milk truck tomorrow doesn't matter when the Lord is returning.
Do they still have milk trucks? I guess that makes all of us safer but watch out for UPS because they are moving. Don't send me emails on that one please. We're to have that kind of urgency that now is the time, listen if you're going to write a letter of affirmation or an email of affirming to somebody, do it today don't wait till Monday, do it today, you're going to hug a neck and say I'm so proud of you, you're becoming such a great young christian man, do it today, don't wait till next week, now is the time to influence and encourage others.
Very first church I pastored was in an old town called View Texas some of you have heard me talk about it, View is 20 miles south of Abilene downtown view consist of two buildings one was the view baptist church and the other was a building that tripped up as a post office, train station and domino parlor.
But the first thing I did when I arrived at that little church, there were about 80 in attendance, I wanted the list of all church members somebody rummaged around in the drawers, we didn't have computers back in that day, they rummaged around and they found some typed pages and they had everybodies is name that was a member of the church.
But what was interesting about that typed list, the official list of the membership of New Baptist Church is that nobody was listed by their given name except one person. Everybody on that list was listed by their nickname and everybody in the church had a nickname except for one person. Now they were 10 brothers called the Richards brothers, and I didn't have to ask, nobody had to introduce me when Shorty Richards came in the back door. I knew exactly who he was. There was another brother of Shorty, that everyone called Hardface Richards I never knew his real name and it's because he was a farmer and was out in the winds all the time and the sun in his face looked like leather and so whenever it was time for him to pray I would say, hard face lead us in a word of prayer.
There was a lady in the church, true story, lady in church whose name was Meanness and it was a twist because she was the sweetest lady I believe I've ever met in my whole life, Meanness, and so I would say who is bringing the padlock, who is in charge of the padlock, meanness is, Meanness is in charge. There's only one guy who didn't have a nickname and his name, he was the chairman of our deacons, his name was Bezi Ploughman and when your name is Bezi Ploughman you don't need a nickname, everybody figure that one out.
In the early church, there was a fellow by the name of Joseph but nobody called him Joseph because there was a great famine in the land, it was Joseph who went and sold his property in quietly very secretly gave his, all of his money away so that people would have food to eat and it is probably about that time that they stopped calling him Joseph in the early church and they started to call him Barnabas.
Barnabas means, son of encouragement. Son of encouragement, Paul got saved on the road to Damascus at the time everybody called him Saul, and he was persecuting Christians. He was saying Christians were stoned to death and when he had his conversion, the early Church looked at him with great suspicion until Barnabas came alongside him and spend time with them and then, Barnabas brought him to the church and vouched for him and said, it's sincere we can trust him because of that, you have most of your New Testament today.
In fact, Paul and Barnabas went on a missionary journey and as they were going on missionary journey, they brought a young rookie, a young believer with them by the name of John Mark. And they made their very first stop on an island called Cypress and John Mark got home sick, have you ever been there?
and he quit. He went back home to be with his parents. Paul and Barnabas they finished their missionary journey and they came back home, and they started making preparation to go on a second missionary journey and it was Barnabas who said, let's take John Mark with us again. I think he's grown up a little bit. I think he's more mature.
I think he can make it this time, and Paul, who apparently hadn't written on grace yet said, no way. Strike one and you're out. Barnabas said, that's okay. Let's just agree to disagree on that one, and you go ahead and take the Salus with you on your mission, I'm going to take John Mark and you and I have the gospel of Mark in our bible today because someone encouraged a young man to who failed earlier in the ministry not to give up. Here is something very interesting, when Paul is dying in prison, and he writes to Timothy, the one person he asks to come and see him is John Mark.
He said please send John Mark because he will be useful to me, and there he was ministering to Paul in his dying days, because someone encouraged that young man not to give up and that he was useful. If they are going to give you a nickname today, what would it be? I mean is it related to this topic.
Are you a triple plus? Are you a negative? Are people more likely to walk in a manner worthy of their calling because they know you personally? Are you just neutral in their life? A zero, or perhaps even negative. My prayer is that all of us would be Barnabas to someone, the person who not only by their words but by the way they live and the example they set.
Parents listen to me, your kids are watching how you handle finances, they're watching how you resolve conflict, they're watching how you handle the truth or the light there off. May every parent, may every grandparent, may every neighbour, may every student, may anyone who calls upon the name of Jesus Christ, to have one of their nicknames Barnabas.
One who encourages, one who influences others to walk in a manner worthy. Let's pray together. Dear heavenly Father, thank you for the instruction that you give us because you care about us, and because we're your children. Thank you for the affirmation and the encouragement whom we do walk in a manner worthy for us to keep doing so and thank you so much for daily guidance by your holy spirit that tells us where to turn right or left so we might honor you with our life.
In Jesus name we pray all these things, Amen.
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