You have a sphere of influence.
It might hold ten people. It might hold a thousand. You'll never totally know.
But you can be sure of this: As surely as you look up to certain people, there are others looking up to you. It doesn't matter what you think of yourself. There is somebody who aspires to be like you, in some aspect.
I know because there are people I hold as role models, who think nothing of themselves. They think they are insignificant and meaningless, unimportant and background characters. They probably don't realize that I look up to them in many ways, as I'm sure others do, as well.
There are people watching you. Every decision you make, they're watching. Every choice you make, they're watching your results. And most of the time, these people don't even realize they are holding you up on a pedestal in their lives. I know I don't often realize it. I look up to people and subconsciously aspire to become more like them.
Then they mess up. Big time.
And then people who didn't know they looked up to that person... they suddenly feel lost. I know I do. I suddenly am confused. Where do I stand? If they could botch things up like that... what about me? Things get rough. It's easy to get scared. Depressed. Anxious. Unsure. Lazy. Defeated. Because of someone else.
Robin Williams was put on a pedestal by many people. He motivated people. He inspired people. He was a spokesperson against depression, hoping to lift people's spirits. He was known for his cheerfulness and strong willpower.
Then he hung himself.
The Duggar family, famous because of the TV Series, 19 Kids and Counting, were highly respected and looked up to by many families around the world. Their integrity and focus on obedience was admired by thousands.
Then the sexually immoral actions of Josh Duggar were dug up from years of hiding. His numerous charges of sexual abuse were brought to light, and many families' hopes in the Duggar family were shattered. If a family deemed so proper and so perfect could be concealing such a dark secret, is there any good and pure family to look up to?
Even if we say we have put our faith completely in God, I'd venture to say that every person has somebody, either past or present, that they hold in a different light. A hero. A role model. You have one, and you are one.
The people who want to be like you could be anywhere. You don't always know who they are. It's a reality that we all must grab hold of, especially as followers in Christ. The world is watching us, and examining the coherence of our actions with our words. What we profess causes people to see us a little bit differently, and that should make us uncomfortable.
We have the power, through our good and bad decisions, to make or break some anonymous person's heart. Only Jesus has the power to save a soul, but we have the responsibility to make Jesus attractive to the unsaved, through the way we live.
In the same way, let your light shine before others,
so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father,
who is in heaven.
So basically, don't mess up.
But when you do, admit it. God has forgiven you to infinity and beyond, but that does not mean that people have. When we break trust, we are cut off from that person. What we can do to repair the damage is be vulnerable. Be humble. Be honest. It's horribly embarrassing, it's horribly demeaning, but it's incredibly important. For people who watch us to see if our way of life is worth trying... if they see us screw up and brush it off, it does nothing for either them or us. It could turn them away from the Gospel, and it can harden our hearts. People are watching us, scrutinizing and inspecting, whether they know it or not. But we are only human, and we are bound to miss the mark, for sure. But vulnerability and humility are the keys that can save our relationships with those in our sphere of influence. To ask for forgiveness is to possibly get a second chance at presenting Jesus Christ accurately.
We need to be constantly aware. The words that slip out that you think nobody heard... you don't know that. The glances you give the people you dislike... others can see those. The respect you give your authorities... others are surely paying attention. The risks you take, the pressures you withstand, these are the things that are entering the minds of believers and non-believers, alike. People are taking all this information, and will make a decision whether or not they wish to apply it to their lives.
We're missionaries. Every second of every day. To a crowd of anonymous people, you are painting a picture in their mind of who Jesus is and what He is like. Let's live a life worthy of holding that paintbrush. Because we are holding it. Whether we want to, or not.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant
offering and sacrifice to God.