One Person’s Influence

Last night I was debriefing after our VBS program was finished. It was some of the usual questions: “How many kids did we have?” “How many new kids showed up?” “How did it go for you?” “Was everything okay in your areas?” After all of the usual conversation we began to dig deeper into the evening. Upon evaluation my second night had gone much better than the first night in about every way. The more I talked the more my mind focused on two primary changes between the two nights. First, I was far more prepared. On Monday I had twice as many kids as expected and I needed to adjust my plan and schedule. Second, I noticed a change in some of the kids. Most pointedly we had added three new Jr. High students and we had the subtraction of a couple of kids. Finally the conversation landed on the effect one child has when he is part of the group. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good kid. This child just brings a dynamic to the group that changes everything.

This whole discussion has me thinking about the influence of one person over a group of individuals. Some people really have no influence on the larger group but others seems to dominate a group no matter what the size. Their impact can either be very positive or very negative to the larger group. This lead me to some personal evaluation questions.

1. Do people’s attitudes improve when I enter the room? Are people glad to see me? Do they smile when I enter a room?

2. Do people generally avoid me or embrace me when I enter the room? Do other’s often turn their back toward me when I head their way?

3. How often to I apologize for my negative attitude? Because I can sense other people’s uneasy feelings am I constantly apologizing for my attitude?

4. Do my words build people up or am I constantly tearing people down? This can be obvious with gossip and backstabbing. It can also be subtle with constant complaints, questions and arguments.

5. Are people thankful that they spent time with me? This might not be quickly apparent in most situations, but over a long period of time do I have people who are thankful for my words and actions.

These are some simple questions and I am sure there are more that I could ask. For me, it is easy to see the effect some people have on a larger group because I am a leader. The real issue is not how I see other people but what my behavior shows. Some people walk through life leaving a trail of frustration and confusion without ever knowing it. I do not want to be one of those people. I hope you don’t either.

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