There are some specific things that I have heard over the years that stick in my mind. They make me think about them and ponder them for a long time. One of these is about influence.
photo by ElisaRiva courtesy of Pixabay.
I heard a pastor speaking about the final judgment. He said people will be judged not just by their works but by the influence they had on others. He spoke about how some people’s influence will last generations and affect thousands or millions of people. I have thought about that a lot.
We all have a level of influence in others’ lives. Maybe it is our family’s, the people we work around, the students we teach, our friends; we will influence them. There are times in our lives when we will have greater influence than at other times.
When we are given a public platform of one kind or another, our influence grows. Whether we are a speaker, writer, actor, or a pastor, we begin to influence a greater amount of people than before. We need to think about that, because with influence comes responsibility and ultimately accountability before God. We can influence people in a positive direction or in a negative one.
If we are a writer, think about Mein Kampf. How many people has it influenced over the decades, and what did people do with that influence? How many millions of lives were taken because people read that book and believed what it said? Conversely, what is the most positive book you have ever read? How did it influence you and change your thinking? Were you able to apply that positive influence into your own life?
As writers we will write thousands or millions of words that others will read. What kind of influence are we having over the people that read them? Are we leading them in a positive or negative direction? Are we writing things solely for our own ends or material enrichment? Do we really care about the people reading the things we write? We need to think about it and not just blow it off casually, it really does matter.
Influence…we all have it. The question is, “What are we going to do with it?”
“SPOKEN WORDS FLY AWAY, WRITTEN WORDS REMAIN”
Most of us have heard this expression in a more modern version: “Spoken words are like the air, written words are forever there.” Either way, the expression gives us something to reflect on. Those of us who have the privilege of writing in the public arena should think about the effect our words will have on those reading them.
Whether we are writing to educate, inform, entertain or just express our opinion, our words will have an influence on others. Proverbs 18:21 says: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” I view the pen (or the keyboard) as an extension of our tongue. We are either bringing something negative (death) to our readers or we are bringing something positive (life) to those who read our words.
I consider this a heavy responsibility. Our followers live in many different countries and are of different ages. We have no idea what their living conditions are and what they are going through at the time they read the things we write. We need to be thoughtful about what we post on our blogs and on others’ blogs as well.
Have you ever Googled your name? If you do, you will be surprised to see your comments on the internet for everyone to see. When people read those comments they will get to know a little bit about you and who you are. Now, in the age of the internet, this expression is even more true…”our words are forever there.” Who knows who will be reading them in the future…prospective employers or possibly committee members who will be deciding on scholarships, grants, fellowships or that doctoral program you have been wanting to get accepted in to?
I have read several blog posts where the writers use profanity to make a point or just express their feelings. Although it may seem appropriate at the time, as writers we need to think about how we will feel in a few years when we go back and reread our posts. Are there any other words we could use that will get that same point across as well?
As someone who has lived several decades, there have been plenty of times when I have said things I regret. I’m glad they weren’t written down for all the world to read. At this point in my life, I don’t want to be writing things that I cannot take back and that will remain forever on the internet. How about you?