Influence and Influenza
Author Leslie Flynn points out that the Italian word for influence is influenza. The word influenza was introduced into English in the mid-1700’s, apparently coming from the Italian phrase which attributed the origin of this malady to an influenza di freddo—an influence of the cold. Flynn goes on to say that we are, by our very natures, very contagious people—our example tends to spread to others as easily as the flu. Everyone exerts influence.
The Apostle Paul knew the power of influence. In the first letter to Timothy, he encouraged the young pastor to, “Set an example to the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity . . . Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers . . . Good deeds are obvious . . . Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith.” Timothy would have a good idea of the kind of example that was meant—his father in the faith modeled that very lifestyle!
Recently, I attended a funeral for a longtime friend. With a number of people in attendance, I have had relationships that have gone back decades, relationships that have had a spiritual impact on my life. But those positive influences began much earlier: Christian parents, a couple of aunts who loved Jesus, and some great high school youth group leaders. For over 32 years, my wife has impacted me spiritually in more ways than I realize! And I have been blessed to have godly men in my life who care about me and pray for me.
The power of positive influence is also vital for our church. If we are passionately following Jesus and connecting in mutual community, then we are exerting that positive influence which the Lord will use to mature His church and make more disciples! Thankfully, that “good influenza” has been evident around us–the joyful and powerful testimonies, conversations telling how God has answered prayer, and the remembrances of dear saints who have gone home to glory–whose lives demonstrated that Christ was living through them!
Heavenly Father, we are grateful for the godly people who have and are influencing us spiritually. They are some of your good and perfect gifts to us. Remind us that we are very contagious to the people around us, whether for good or bad. Remind us that we are in a spiritual battle. Help us to be intentional in exerting that godly influence. We know that it is only possible as You work in us. Amen.
by Tim Bruns, Pastor of Adult and Care Ministries
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