Influencer (noun): a person or thing that influences another.
We are bombarded with the concept of influencers all across social media platforms -- the people we should be looking to for advice in fashion, home life, decor, etc. But what does being a real-life influencer look like?
Growing up I constantly heard, “You are who you hang out with.” I remember my youth leader would constantly say that, and it really stuck with me. As humans going through life, we are all shaped and molded by our experiences: who we are, what we believe in, and where we want to go in life. It is all tied up in our experiences and what or who we allow to speak into our lives and influence us.
These influences are the voices that we listen to and turn to during our highs and lows. These voices will either build us up or tear us down. Who you surround yourself with is so important. Be quick to be kind and friendly, but be careful who you call “friend” and bring in close. I always want to be polite and kind to everyone, but there are only select few that are allowed to speak into my life and encourage or motivate my choices and decisions.
"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend" (Proverbs 27:17).
Our influences and close friends should sharpen us and make us better than we were before.
Be the influence you want to see.
Growing up in the church, I remember having my tight-knit group of friends. As we grew through the years and entered middle and high school, I remember the changes that we all went through. Some of my friends turned to drugs, parties, and alcohol, and I recall how appealing they made it sound. I am so thankful that early on I decided that was not what I wanted to do, but I felt that I still needed to be a friend to them. In my mind I worried that if I turned my back on them, no one else would reach out to them in the way that I could, and I was afraid that they would have no reason to stay around the church or try to change. I attempted to still be a good friend to them and encourage them to do what was right.
I will admit that more often than not, it felt like a losing battle. I worried about them and who they were hanging out with, but I simply just let them do their own thing and made sure that they knew I was there for them if they needed a friend.
Fast forward almost 10 years since high school: I am still friends with some of my childhood friends, and they are living a much better life filled with Jesus and joy! In a recent conversation, my friend mentioned that I was always a good friend to her in those messy times and that she realizes now that I really tried my best to influence her into doing the right thing. It made me feel so encouraged that my attempts were not lost on her.
Be a friend first.
Find ways in which you can speak into someone else’s life. Not with words necessarily, but in your actions. Be the friend you want to have. If you feel like you may need to find some new friends, reach out of your comfort zone and find people with like goals and ideas. I want to always make sure that my actions and words are encouraging those around me so that they too can live a life that is beautiful and peaceful.
"A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24).
I want to encourage each of you to take a personal inventory of what and who you are allowing to influence you today. Are the influences in your life encouraging you? Are they negative? Do they simply gossip and tear others down? Do they build you up? Do they discourage you from pursuing your goals and plans? Do they help you dream up new ideas?
Remember to take a look within and make sure that you are putting out what you are seeking. If you want a kind, loyal, encouraging friend, BE the kind, loyal, and encouraging friend.
Be aware of what influences you and decide if it needs to change. Sometimes growth can be a little uncomfortable, but removing the hold an influence has over you may just be what you need to keep going forward.