We’ve discussed influence as having the ability affect or be affected by someone else. It’s the ability to alter someone else’s opinions, behaviors, and attitudes. We know that God should be our ultimate influence, but we also know we’re influenced by our friends, by our coworkers and managers, people in the media and other public figures, and we can be influenced by our families.
If we tally up all of our immediate and immediately extended family, many of us (though not all) will come with a larger number than we might expect. Spouses, parents, in-laws, children, siblings, nieces and nephews — we share love and influence with all of these people. Some may lead us to good decisions, and some might not. Some may set good examples, but others may not. What about me, however? What kind of influence do I have on my family?
Negative Family Influences in God’s Word
We can find plenty of examples of family dynamics in the Bible — both positive and negative. With Adam and Eve, we see Eve persuading Adam to eat the fruit forbidden to them. She allowed a bad influence to sway her, and she then influenced another to make the same bad choice. Likewise, Samson let the women in his life lead him astray, culminating in sharing a weakness with Delilah, which she then shared with his enemies.
In Isaac’s family, we see Jacob being treated as a favorite son, and Jacob uses that to his advantage at the counsel of his mother. Rebekah helps Jacob deceive his father and brother. Our example, our advice, and our guidance will determine what kind of influence we have. Ephesians 6:1–2 tells us to obey our parents in the Lord, and our children seek and desire our approval. We have to respect that influence, so we aren’t like those families in the Bible that misused their family influences.
Positive Family Influences in God’s Word
In contrast, look to Noah’s family. How crazy it must have seemed that Noah undertook the task that he did, but Noah had a positive influence on his family, and that influence saved their lives. Furthermore, we see Timothy in II Timothy 1:2–5 being raised by a mother and grandmother who were tremendously positive role models and teachers. We see no evidence that Timothy’s father had any interest in Timothy’s spiritual growth, but his mother and grandmother were. They affected a spirituality in Timothy that would serve as a great foundation for his lifelong service to God.
Our families can learn so much from us, and, in some cases, we might be the best chance some of our family members have at seeing Christ’s love in action. We can be a positive influence like Noah and like Lois and Eunice. We can share wisdom, morality, faith, and more. The truth is, we will sometimes slip and have a bad influence, but we should be striving for the good so they can see Christ in us more than the world.
Building a Christ-Centered Family
We might recognize a bad temper or impatience in ourselves. Perhaps we are unkind at times. We can replace these with patience, with encouragement, and with generosity. We can strive to be gentler, kinder, and more loving. This begins with the relationship we have with God, and it extends to the relationship we have with our families. We have to build relationships so we can be the good influence God wants us to be.
If we can let Christ be the center of our families and we are building the relationships with our family that we should, we have a foundation upon which we can build a strong Christian family. Let’s use the time we have to build our families up, to guide and correct where needed, and to encourage a Christ-centered life.
lesson by Aaron Kadel