Little children love to mimic others. Whether it’s a sibling, friend, or parent, they’re always observing and copying the behaviors of those around them.
This can be both a curse and a blessing. Sometimes it encourages them to help us do chores around the house, while at other times they pick up on our bad habits and become rude or unruly because they’ve seen us act poorly.
Imitating those around us isn’t a trait that belongs only to young children, however. We all emulate those that we love and respect. Whether it’s a close friend, parent, mentor, or popular figure, there are people out there who influence how you act.
But have you ever considered how you influence others?
You make more of an impact than you think.
It wasn’t until the past few months that I really realized how my actions, words, and choices influenced other people. Sure, we all know that little kids, as they try and find their way in this world, will copy our behaviors.
What about your friends, though? What about the newer Christians you know, or the strangers in public who will all be watching what you do?
Especially when we’re younger, it’s easy to believe that our words and actions don’t actually matter. That assumption, however, couldn’t be further from the truth.
Your actions matter… a lot
I got a firsthand experience of this when I started to obsess over some darker music. I figured that because it didn’t bother me, there wasn’t any problem with listening to the music or making it a big part of my life.
Then one of my friends started to listen as well, despite the fact her parents were uncomfortable with the music. It clearly influenced her, affecting her emotions and putting her in a dark place mentally. Eventually I had to accept that my obsession with that music had ended up hurting my friend.
Romans 14:13 says “… make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”
We need to watch our actions carefully to ensure they don’t become stumbling blocks for those around us. Even if it seems like an innocent little thing, such as listening to music or the way we dress, people can be strongly impacted by what we do.
If you wouldn’t want your friend doing it, should you do it?
When your actions begin to lead someone else astray, you need to reconsider what you’re doing. Even if it’s alright for you to do something, nothing can justify that action if it’s drawing someone else away from God.
More than that, if you wouldn’t want your siblings or friends acting the way you are, should you?
It can take someone else making the same mistake as us to show just how big of an issue it is. As I thought more about the music I’d come to love, I started to realize it wasn’t the kind of thing I should have listened to or obsessed over in the first place.
High standards aren’t just for our leaders.
We set high standards for leaders in our Churches, communities, and countries. These people are examples for the world. We want them to be good influences, not negative ones. They also represent us and our communities, and we want that representation to be accurate.
In the same way, we need to set high standards for ourselves. We are ambassadors of God, and we are called to represent Him in this world. Not only can your actions affect how someone lives, they can affect that person’s opinion of God.
People around us will be watching how we act. They will make judgments about God and Christianity based on our lives. Before we get swept along with the crowd and simply live the way we want to, we need to consider God’s will and how our actions will impact others.
1 Timothy 4:2 says “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
Being young isn’t an excuse to live the way we want. Even as teenagers, we need to be examples for those around us.
You will always be an example.
Your choices and actions are going to influence people for the rest of your life. The way you live has the chance to encourage or to break down someone else’s relationship with God.
That’s a heavy weight to bear, and it’s something we’ll often fail to live up to. But when we accept that responsibility, instead of pretending it doesn’t exist, we can strive to live up to it.
We can be inspired by the impact we have on others, and live our lives in a way that honors God. Whether or not others are watching us, we need to strive to follow Jesus, our ultimate example.
When we’re unsure how to act, we can look to Him for ultimate direction. And as we let His truth shine through our actions, we’ll be influencing others in the most important way we can.
Everything you do will make a difference, Roses.
Ever since she was little, Julia has loved to create things with words. As she’s grown in life, she’s seen and experienced how God’s love can restore and give hope. She writes with the goal of shining God’s light for others and pointing them toward a greater hope. As a contributing writer for the Wilting Rose Project, she hopes to encourage other young women, reminding them of the one who gives us our worth.