Each of us wields a certain measure of influence. Influence is sway. Its the ability to turn heads and minds and hearts and hands in a direction. Your influence can grow and it can shrink. It can be used for good or for evil. But whatever you do, your influence should not go ignored, especially not by you.
There is a story in 1 Kings 13 of a young prophet who was wrongly influenced by an older prophet. The young prophet was given a message of judgment to deliver and then to get out of there.
And the man of God said to the king, “If you give me half your house, I will not go in with you. And I will not eat bread or drink water in this place, for so was it commanded me by the word of the Lord , saying, “You shall neither eat bread nor drink water nor return by the way that you came.” So he went another way and did not return by the way that he came to Bethel.
The young prophet did as he was supposed to and departed another way. However, the sons of the old prophet heard what the young prophet had done and when they told it to their father, the old man instructed them to saddle up the donkey. He rode the beast as quickly as he could in the direction that the young prophet had set out in until he found him sitting under a tree. There he gave him this contrary instruction:
Then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.”
The young prophet knowing the voice of the Lord responded quickly:
And he said, “I may not return with you, or go in with you, neither will I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place, for it was said to me by the word of the Lord , “You shall neither eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by the way that you came.”
But, here comes the moment where the old prophet leveraged his influence in a wrongful and irresponsible way:
And he said to him, “I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord , saying, “Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.” But he lied to him. So he went back with him and ate bread in his house and drank water.
The rest of the story records that, as the young prophet and the old prophet sat together at the dinner table, the Word of the Lord came to the old prophet who in lament cried out:
And he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, “Thus says the Lord , “Because you have disobeyed the word of the Lord and have not kept the command that the Lord your God commanded you, but have come back and have eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which he said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.”
The young prophet got on a donkey headed home the next morning. While on the road, he met his demise when a lion tore him to pieces in the middle of the road. For hours, the lion stood right beside the mangled but uneaten carcass and so did the donkey. The lion never struck the donkey or ate the man’s flesh. The young prophet was made an object lesson that day.
The regret-filled old prophet got word of the tragic state of affairs and collected himself to go recover the body. By the time he arrived at the homicide scene, the lion and the donkey were still just standing beside the young prophet’s carcass. The old prophet must have been somewhat nervous as he walked between the two beasts and dragged the lion’s kill onto the waiting donkey but at the same time, he knew that he was to blame.
He had misused his influence and now a young, innocent prophet who had so much potential lay dead in the street. Here’s my question: How are you using or misusing your influence?