For the last month, I’ve been thinking a lot about influence and how it is used. Maybe it’s because in January I preached on that very theme, discussing passages such as the foot-washing scene of John 13 or the Caiaphas’ plot to kill Jesus in John 11. Maybe it’s because I’ve become super, super proud of college buddy Brad Montague and what he has done with his awesome brother-in-law, known around the internet as “Kid President.” (Seriously, if you haven’t heard of Kid President yet, watch this). Last week, Brad and Kid President appeared on both the Today Show and CNN. Brad and Kid President are together gaining a lot of influence, and they are wielding effectively in a positive way. With nearly 8 million views on YouTube, they are challenging adults to be less boring and more awesome.

Maybe it’s because of last week’s news story of the influence the Robertson family (Duck Dynasty) had on a man. As reported by the Christian Chronicle, Brandon Hooks was baptized into Christ by Jase Robertson after the family learned of their positive influence on Hooks in regards to faith and salvation. Like many of you, I have become a huge fan of the Robertson clan and Duck Dynasty on A&E. By all accounts, as the family gains more and more fame and popularity, they are in turn using their influence to further the agenda of Jesus’ kingdom.

Or maybe it’s because I’m attending the 77th lectures at my alma mater, Freed-Hardeman University. One of THE reasons I love these lectures is that I get to reunite with friends—not only those I was in school with, but also friends of my dad. You see, I have been blessed remarkably by men who were in school with my dad. Many of them have been remarkably gracious in influencing me, but also using their reputations to influence others concerning “The Epic of God.” I am critically aware that the success I have enjoyed in life is due, first to God, but also to these men. They are willing to use their influence to bless my life and the lives of others.

You too have influence. You may not think you have a lot. But you have some. Someone looks up to you, defers to you, respects you, values you. What you say to them matters. They obey your commands. They heed your advice. If you are a grandparent, parent, older sibling, a spouse, a friend, a boss, a manager, a voter, a coach, etc., you have influence. How are you using it? Are you influencing people driving by selfish motives and values? Or are you leveraging your influence to see others succeed, not only in this life, but also in their walk with Jesus?

Let me get personal. I’m grateful for my dad’s buddies are interested in seeing me succeed as an author and preacher. But more than that, they are interested in seeing me succeed in being a disciple of Jesus. No matter the cost. For that reason, they are patient and gentle, but also take me aside and give me the counsel I need to hear, pleasant or not. And while I don’t always initially respond appropriately (I’m terribly flawed like that), I know they’re right. I’m so thankful they are using their influence in my life for God.

So thank you, Brad Montague and Kid President for challenging all of us to be more awesome. Thank you, “Duck Dynasty” Robertsons, for teaching us that Louisiana Rednecks in love with Jesus can change the world. Thank you, friends of Daniel Whitworth, for loving him enough to want to see his kid succeed, especially in the one area it matters most.

Walking with Jesus.

I’ll never be able to pay any of you back. But I’ll do my best to influence those who follow me.