In the midst of turmoil and heightened emotion in national politics, we often feel helpless to affect our nation, our state, and even our communities for good. We forget that God has given us all realms of influence in our homes, churches, businesses, and neighborhoods. G. K. Chesterton said, “The business done in the home is nothing less than the shaping of the bodies and souls of humanity.” We are spouses, parents, teachers, PTA members, city councilwomen, neighbors, Senate members, business leaders, and church members. As we influence and shape those around us—our children, our homeless neighbors, our coworkers, the elderly woman next-door—we are influencing our communities. In these worlds, what kind of leaders are we willing to be? How are we willing to use our influence?
spheres of influence
the character of a leader
Proverbs speaks to the inward character and outward strengths of a leader and how she affects her community. God created the world with a sense of order, and this order underscores not just the natural world but also our social relationships. God’s order calls for harmonious relationships, where the dignity and rights of all are upheld. Proverbs 22:2 reminds us that “the rich and the poor meet together; the LORD is the Maker of them all.”We can make beautiful music in the symphony of our communities, or we can blare our instrument selfishly, distorting the delicate interplay.
Proverbs 11:10–11 shows us the righteous and the wicked in civic life. The city rejoices when good people are rewarded and wrong is thwarted. When good people are rewarded, it benefits the life of the community morally and economically. It creates safer, thriving places for everyone in the city. The city also rejoices when bad leaders are ousted from their positions of leadership in civic or business realms because these leaders focus on selfish ambitions to the detriment of others in the community. Their words and actions undermine the wellbeing of a community and create instability, tearing down relationships, morality, and economy. They contribute to disconnected societies, where rich and poor, employer and employee rarely meet.
bringing good to our cities
While these verses can and should influence what kind of civic leaders we choose, it also gets to the heart of how we participate in society. The righteous have the strength to exalt, or lift up, a city. By practicing justice and mercy, we benefit others, those who work with and under us, those in our cities who don’t enjoy the same privileges we do, those who go to school with our children, those who are hurting in our churches. When those who practice God’s wisdom show up and serve the community, it changes things for people in the community. But we have to choose to use our power to help rather than to serve ourselves. We do this when we use our influence, business, education, and talent to empower the marginalized instead of lavishing comforts on ourselves. We do this when we give up a rightful promotion to recognize someone overlooked. We do this when we treat economically insecure people with dignity, as fellow image-bearers. We do this when we invite into our homes someone whom others forget. When we do these big and small things, God uses us to bring His good to our cities.
Think through all your spheres of influence. What is something you can do to bring good to someone’s life in one of those spheres?
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