“Oops!” There are several people in life that you do not want to hear say “Oops!” Your barber, your mechanic, and your surgeon come to mind. Each time I go to the barber, I pray that I do not hear those words from him! One of the first “words” a kid learns is “uh oh,” usually said when they drop or spill something, whether accidentally or purposefully.
As we get older, we may replace the expression with more forceful (and sinful) words, but the idea is still the same: I messed up!
I am sure there are numerous areas where we can look at our lives and say “oops,” but one of the greatest, I believe, is in the area of influence. There are numerous relationships in our lives that give us great opportunities to influence people for the Lord. These are people that look up to us, respect us, and might even have a hunger to have what we have in Christ. Are these relationships characterized by oops?
The foremost area of influence is the home. As long as I have breath, I will proclaim that parents are ordained by God to be the spiritual leaders of their homes. The principles found in Deuteronomy 6 are still valid today. Many parents are afraid to accept this responsibility, or have feelings of inadequacy, but it is key to use the influence a parent has to direct their child toward the Lord. In the book It Starts at Home, the following statement is made: “Many people in our era were raised by parents who found church boring while growing up, so they decided not to put their own kids through the same experience. ‘After all,’ went the rationale, ‘they can decide for themselves when they grow up.’ Well, we are grown up now. And rather than saying ‘Thank you,’ many of us are asking, ‘How could you?'” Oops!
Many times I find parents are not willing to make the necessary decisions for their children and teenagers from a spiritual perspective. For instance, this weekend is DiscipleNow at the church I pastor. We will have students not attend because they “don’t want to.” I always want to respond, “Why do you have a choice?!?!” I am grateful for the mother who told me today, “I am making him go to DNow this weekend even though he doesn’t want to go.” I don’t think this mother will have an “Oops” when she looks back at this weekend. We need other parents to step up and provide spiritual leadership to their children.
Another area of influence is at work, the place were most people spend the majority of their time. I know that things have changed in the workforce and many people are warned not to discuss their faith. However, the influence you have with someone can extend beyond the work day. As you see people with spiritual (and other) needs, you can use your influence on them outside of the work day. While your employer may invoke fear within the workplace in regards to you sharing spiritual matters, he does not control you when you leave work! A text message, phone call, or face-to-face conversation outside the work hours with someone you work with will keep you from saying “Oops” when it comes to using your influence at work to impact people with the Gospel.
For students, the same can be said about the school day as I said about the work day. There are probably more opportunities during the school day to have spiritual conversations than there are at work, and I am regularly amazed at the number of students who are having those conversations with their classmates. One of the things that bothers me is when I think about my school days and the relationships I had, I often say “Oops!”
Home and work/school are probably the two greatest areas of influence due to the amount of time we spend with each and the investment that is made in other areas beside spiritually. Think about your neighbors that notice your faith and the way you live. Reflect on those people that you once were closer to that you are now due to changes in your life stage, but you still have influence on them. Ponder the parents of your children’s friends who wonder why your kids talk about God and sing goofy songs from church when they are playing with their kids.
Your influence is great, whether you want to admit it or not. May we not find an “Oops!” in our relationships.