“Influencers” are all the rage these days. Platforms are given or sought, and we all eagerly follow those whose “brands” we like. For good or for evil, social media has made it easy for many to share their thoughts and opinions with the world, setting themselves up as guides and people of influence.
I’m aware of the draw to the platform. From the Garden of Eden, we have all wanted to know. So we listen to others who seem to know. But more than that, we want to be the ones who know, and tell others that we know.
It’s not all bad, of course. God does gift some with an extra ability to teach, to encourage, to share wisdom. Paul does tell people to “imitate me, as I imitate Christ”. Influence, when used for the glory of God, can be a very good thing.
Nevertheless, James 3 deserves our consideration:
“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body”- James 3:1-2
The rest of that passage talks about the power of the tongue, of how hard it is to tame it, how it should not be that both blessing and cursing come from the same mouth.
That passage makes me rather nervous. Here I am, writing words, and well aware of my own stumblings in the area of the tongue.
I’d like to use that passage in James 3 as a reason to run into hiddenness and stay far, far away from the stage. I don’t particularly like the thought of “being judged with greater strictness”, of having more required of me because more has been given to me.
Yet it strikes me that running away is rarely what God tell us to do, and as influence and teaching seem to be inextricably linked to the tongue, perhaps I can’t run away even if I want to.
And maybe you can’t either.
Because we all wield words, every day, and isn’t that the definition of influence and teaching?
Whom do you influence? Whom do you teach? Where is your platform? Perhaps the details are unimportant. Perhaps it makes little difference whether you have thousands of Instagram followers or are “just” home with a few small children. Perhaps God calls each of us to bridle our tongues, regardless of who hears, and use our influence for His glory.
I don’t know about you. But that feels a bit overwhelming to me. I think all of us sense the power of the tongue, and of our own inability to control it. So where do we start?
What if we channeled that craving to know, into a craving to know God? I think of what Paul prayed for the Ephesian church:
“that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe.” – Ephesians 1:17-19
If that was the kind of knowledge we had, what kind of people would we be? If our minds were being continually transformed and renewed with that, what kind of words would flow out?
I find it interesting that specific instructions about words in Ephesians and Colossians come only after the “big picture” of what God has done, who we were without Him, who we are now in Him. It is after the big picture that Paul therefore urges us to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called, and gives instructions like:
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” – Col. 4:6
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” – Eph. 4:29
Maybe that warning in James 3 is less about running away from the role of teaching, and more about taking it seriously. Desiring influence not for the sake of position, but for the sake of walking worthy of the Gospel of Christ and giving grace to those who hear.
I have been pondering this, as I consider this blog and what God might be calling me to do with it.
Part of me would be happy to disappear completely from the online world and be granted the hiddenness I long for, serving Him from my home as a wife and mother. I know it’s not an easier calling, not by a long shot; if anything, the sanctification that it brings is something that I know I need, and may not get elsewhere.
But I can’t dictate to God how I am to steward what He has given me. My calling to serve Him cannot be dependent upon circumstances. If He calls me to hiddenness, it will be there that I am to walk worthy with humility and gentleness and patience, using my words to bless.
And if He calls me to the stage, whether that’s continuing in pregnancy resource ministry or writing on this blog or something else, it will be there that I am to walk worthy with humility and gentleness and patience, using my words to bless.
Godly influence will never be about the number of followers, be they many or few. Words that glorify Him aren’t wasted, whether they become a best-selling book or are heard only by a two year old.
I don’t know what your platform looks like today, or who is hearing your words. I don’t pretend to have any of this figured out. But today, maybe we can, together, seek to know God, and ask for that knowing to lead to words that are worthy of the calling to which He has called us?
May God give us His grace to do so.