The actions we do every day have a great effect on all the people around us, influencing them in a positive or negative way. Remember as a kid when you would throw things into a puddle of water or skip a rock? Every time the force from the rock hit the water, ripples would move outward, eventually reaching the shore. That is what happens in our life – our actions affect those in our lives.
Paul starts his letter to the Philippians in his normal manner, introducing himself, the recipients, and a greeting (Philippians 1:1-2). Included in this introduction are Timothy, the saints in Philippi, and the overseers and the deacons. Paul's interactions with each of these people was different, but those interactions had ripples.
Paul influenced Timothy as a son in the faith (1 Timothy 1:2 cf. Philippians 2:22). He poured into him and helped him to mature in the faith. He understood the importance of having Timothy learn at his side and the influence he had over him including him in the introduction with the description of a “servant of Jesus Christ."
Timothy learned from Paul how to lead and live a godly life and how to serve the Lord. The people we learn under and listen to on a daily basis have influence in our life by their teachings and actions which create ripples in our lives. Many of us have those who are younger, whether by age or in knowledge of the faith, in our lives. We can have the same positive impact as Paul did on Timothy, or we can squander the opportunities before us. Who do you positively influence in your life? What younger person are you pouring into today?
Paul's influence reached beyond singular individuals to larger groups. When he spoke at Philippi the people who feared God listened and believed. He preached the gospel to the jailer's house, and they believed (Acts 16). Even after Paul departed from Philippi his influence continued as the church continued to grow and spread despite being persecuted. His actions of preaching and explaining the gospel had ripple effects into the greater community.
Often, we do not realize the influence we can have on the larger community, especially the church. When we are performing our vocations, we will have a lasting effect and influence people. Our actions today might impact not only those in our immediate vicinity but future generations. What are you doing today that could affect the people in your community? How do you try to strengthen the church and aid in its continued growth?
Paul not only influenced Timothy and larger communities, but those who were leaders in the church. Paul was in a position of authority to have a certain influence over the leaders. The leaders in any community are people with the same issues and struggles as everyone else only with the added burden of trying to lead in a godly manner. Often leaders need to be reminded to pay attention to things that they already know, but sometimes they want the help of the people to push them and keep them from becoming complacent.
The common man or woman can be the encouragement behind a new idea or the motivation to deal with an issue. If you never try, you will never have influence. What kind of relationship do you have with your elders and pastors? What do you do to create a lasting impact in a leader’s life which could have ripple effects?
We have the opportunity to influence the lives of so many people – younger individuals, larger groups, and leaders. Like when the rock impacts the water, our actions create ripples all around us and we can affect even people we do not know. So, the main question is: what influential ripples are you causing?