Continuing our conversation on being a person of influence, we look today at the “E” of influence, and the importance of embracing others with genuine love and friendship:
She’s never been what some would describe as a typical pastor’s wife. She’s as guarded as Fort Knox. She’s opinionated, and will tell me when I have a stupid idea as quickly as she’ll tell me that I have a good idea. She doesn’t enjoy public speaking, she’s not a blogger, a fundraiser, or a demonstrator for social justice issues. You won’t find her working in the church office, anymore often than you’ll find her sitting at Cadence Coffee sipping on a cup of French Roast with her BFF discussing her latest Bible Study by Beth Moore (although she’s a huge Beth Moore Bible Study disciple).
For the past 11 months, and for a few more, you’ll find her taking cosmetology classes at a local technical college. She loves “doing hair,” but she’ll tell you that there’s a greater purpose in her returning to school. My wife has a huge heart for single moms. She wants to take the skills she’s learning now, and share them with single moms who need to be valued and loved, and reminded of their beauty and worth. Its a noble calling and I can’t wait to see how God brings that into reality for her life.
I’m already amazed at how He’s used my wife to be a person of influence in her present environment. It started out pretty rough for her. The first few weeks of classes she would come home every night emotionally worn down. “I feel so out of place,” she’d tell me with tears streaming down her beautiful face. “They cuss like sailors, they’re smoking – who knows what – every five minutes, and I can just tell they don’t like me.” That was 11 months ago. But this past week, I got to see my wife in an entirely different light.
One of her teachers was getting married, and under an extremely rare set of circumstances I was asked to perform the ceremony. My wife and I showed up at the wedding, and . . . well, we stood out like sore thumbs, at least I felt completely out of place, not really knowing anyone. But my wife. . . I stood in amazement as I watched her interact with a group of people, so fundamentally different than her on so many levels, with such ease and acceptance.
Without a second thought she walked right up to a brood of bridesmaids, most of whom she knew from school. She hugged them and told them how beautiful they were, they laughed together, compared hair styles and make up. I stood off at a distance watching this preacher’s wife unconditionally love a group of ladies who walk such different paths than she does. But you know what was equally amazing? How much they loved her back. I stood there watching my wife walk in the influence that God had granted her with a group of people that most likely would not have been her first choice of peers. She has embraced them, simply for who they are, and they have embraced her simply because she loves them. Kristia had drawn circles around these ladies, not lines of separation.
People inclined to draw lines, would say “she’s a preacher’s wife, she has no place mixing and mingling with people like that.” People inclined to draw circles would say, “There’s no better place for a preacher’s wife to be that right there in the thick of them.”
To be a person of influence we must be willing to embrace people with the love of Christ. For too long the church has been known for drawing lines in the wrong places. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely places for lines to be drawn. But if we are to share Christ’s love we must be willing to draw circles with arms of embrace around the person furthest from Him. Hear me, clearly here, embrace the person.
Who will you embrace today? Can you draw a circle of love around them, or do you tend to draw lines of separation? If you hope to influence that person with the love of Jesus today, embrace them with circles of love.
Ready. Set. Go.