Growing up, kids are so easily influenced by the people they're around.
Do you remember being a little kid and looking up to the "big kids" or the teenagers who we thought had it all together? When you're young you want someone that you can admire and look up to, someone who is older and has gone before you. As a kid I certainly had my share of older girls at my church that I would look up to. I'm sure you did too. And of course I had close people in my life that I looked up to as well, like my mom, grandma, sister, and friends.
I still remember when I was fourteen, I was inspired by the music and story of Jen Ledger. I can still remember the day I read her story for the first time, about how she traveled all the way from England to pursue God's calling on her life. Her story was soaked in courage and faith. And then I remember the first time I watched her play the drums and sing. On that day I determined that I wanted to do that too. I wanted to create beautiful music that inspired people the way that Jen did. But more than that I wanted to have a fearless faith like she had that followed Jesus even if it was scary.
So I did.
I learned to play the drums and I joined a worship band that played music for our church. But her story also inspired me to be courageous enough to pursue the dream God placed on my heart to publish my books and start my blog.
She is still an inspiration and role model to me in her music and faith and I'll always be grateful for the impact that she had on my life, even though she will probably never know that.
But when I think about the way that Jen and countless others have inspired me--often without them even knowing it--I ponder a simple question. Who is looking up to me?
We all seem to have someone we are looking up to and admiring. But do we sometimes forget that we have younger eyes looking up to us as well?
I think one of the greatest reasons that I admire Jen is because she lets her light reflect back to Jesus. And this causes a challenge for me.
When younger eyes are looking up at me, are they seeing more of me or more of Jesus?
In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul says: "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." (NIV)
Is my example to others an example of Christ or an example of my own selfish nature?
So many times I can get caught up in my own selfish plans.
How then can I provide an example of Christ to the young ones looking up to me? And how can you and I become someone that points to Jesus with everything we do and say?
Stay grounded in Jesus.
Sometimes the world pushes and pulls at us, distracting us from what really matters. When we get caught up in the troubles and distractions surrounding us, we can subconsciously grow distant from our relationship with Christ. In order to be providing an example worthy of being followed, we must make it a priority to stay grounded in the Word of God and our relationship with Jesus. Make Him first.
Admit when you're wrong.
I think a lot of times when someone is looking up to us, we can get it wrong by assuming that we have to cover up our mistakes so that no one knows. But when we pretend to have it all together or that we don't make mistakes, we're lying. Because the truth is that no one has it all together and every single one of us makes mistakes daily. Just because you are in a position to influence or encourage someone, does not mean that you have to be perfect. You just have to have the humility and courage to admit when you're wrong and seek ways to make it right.
Invest in younger people.
Think about a close relative or friend who invested in you growing up. This person may have spent time with you or encouraged you to get into the Word of God or made a weekly/monthly effort to invest in your life. When I was fifteen I had a friend who was several years older than me. Although we did not live near each other, she made a serious effort to call me a couple times a month and talk about things we were learning in the Bible. During my time in the Bible Bee, she even would quiz me on my verses. There are so many young people you could invest in, even if they don't live nearby. But do you know some that I'm thinking of right now that you could invest in today? Yep. Your siblings.
Friend, you don't have to be perfect to influence someone, because none of us are. You just have to be willing to stand out from the world, invest in those lives around you, and reflect Christ right where you are.
Who is looking up to you today?