CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

On Having an Influence

Nov 1, 2019

Are you having a godly influence?

We all have some sort of influence on others – for good or for ill. Since I am talking about Christians in this piece, it is hoped that ours is an influence for good only. However, I don’t know about you, but I often wonder if I am having much influence. Being a melancholic kinda guy, I can often wonder if I am doing much good for Christ and the kingdom.

I sometimes question whether what I do is worthwhile, and whether it is paying any eternal dividends. Worse yet, to be honest, I sometimes even wonder how many folks might show up at my funeral! One very influential and important Australian Christian that I used to work for had some 5000 people at his funeral.

I think I will be doing well to get 50 max at mine (hopefully some family members will roll up!). But a few recent events, along with a few things I once again read in Luke’s gospel yesterday, provide the backdrop for my latest musings.

As some of you might know, I am in Ghana at the moment. (Let me selfishly throw in a prayer request here: tomorrow is my last day of meetings and then I make the long and gruelling flights home. As I am not able to sleep when travelling, I will have almost 40 hours from when I wake in the morning to when I walk through my home door on Sunday morning. Your prayers will be most appreciated thanks!)

A good part of the reason why I am in Accra is because I guess I had a bit of influence at one point. I have taught many hundreds of students over the years at Bible colleges and so on, but I suspect that a good 98 per cent of them have forgotten all about me. “Bill who?” they might ask.

But thankfully God often will have at least one or two that you did have an impact on. One student from around 18 years ago was a young African man. He seems to have benefitted from my teaching, and so he followed me online over the years, and even bought some of my books on homosexuality.

He passed them on to some important movers and shakers here in Ghana, and since they are quite concerned about the inroads of homosexual activism in Africa, they have put together a few conferences on all this, and as a result, I got the invite. So that is why I am here, and it has been a real blessing to get to know so many great champions in the faith in Ghana, as well as catch up with my former student.

I wrote up my impressions of the church in Ghana and the culture wars in an earlier piece: billmuehlenberg.com/2019/10/31/ghana-christianity-culture-wars-and-the-west/

So I can say that at least one of my students seems to have had some sort of positive impact from my life and work. Hey, that’s one. Of course some others over the years have said similar sorts of things. For example, some years ago at a Christian function a guy who was a Federal Senator for a smaller Christian party that often held the balance of power said he was in office partly because I had spoken at his church perhaps a decade earlier, and my talk had made some sort of positive impression on him.

Hmm, that’s two! Hopefully there are a few others. But we will not know fully until we get to heaven as to what sort of influence we actually had, and what kind of impact we had for the work of the gospel. In this life we do not often get much feedback about all this.

Which is a shame, because every day another Christian leader or worker or pastor has quit – given up – because of discouragement, despair and despondency. They seldom hear any positive feedback, but often hear plenty of criticism. Too many simply quit running the race as a result.

So the lesson is, we need to encourage one another. We all can get discouraged and feel like giving up, so we need to offer some positive feedback to others. And the two relevant passages from Luke that tie into all this are these. In Luke 17:11-19 we read about how Jesus healed ten men with leprosy.

Yet we read that only one of the ten came back and thanked Jesus. Hmm, just ten per cent. But I guess that is a bit better than the one student out of 30 that may have said they appreciated my teaching. The point is, if we did the Lord’s work only based on how many folks thank us or give us positive feedback, there would be very few Christian labourers out there!

The second story I just again read was that of the Parable of the Ten Minas. Remember the words of the master to the faithful steward as found in Luke 19:17: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” That should be enough: knowing that our labour in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58), and one day if we faithfully served our Lord, we too will hear those welcoming words.

That will make everything worthwhile. Sure, it is nice to get a bit of positive feedback in this life now and then, but if we have served Christ devotedly and faithfully, we will get those wonderful words one day. That should be enough to keep us going.

So keep on keeping on my friends. You just never know how much impact you are having, how many people you are influencing for good, and how much the Kingdom is advancing because of your labours with the Lord. We will find out one day, but in the meantime, we must keep steadfast and unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (also 1 Corinthians 15:58).

[980 words]

22 Responses to On Having an Influence

  • Hi Bill. You under estimate your influence by 1000 (or is it 10,000) fold. Your posts are part of my essential reading for the days that they arrive. The Lord has used your posts to challenge, disciple and bless me since a friend passed on a link to culturewatch about 4 years ago. Please continue your work and may He receive the glory.

  • This actually moved me to tears. This was a timely message. Thank you for your words of encouragement. Not only was this a blessing to me on today but many of your other posts have been blessings as well. God bless you and yours Bill.

    From Rosa a sister in the Lord all the way from the good ole U.S.A

  • Encouragement may come from surprising quarters… Was not the one-in-ten cleansed leper who came back to thank our Lord Jesus a despised, beyond-the-pale Samaritan of all people! It will be too bad if we should keep silent and leave only the very stones and the earth that received the blood of righteous Abel and of Christ Himself to cry out at this world’s besetting sins and dearest mad follies.

  • Bill, your work is amazing. Every day I anticipate what the discussion will be. I’ve gained such a deeper understanding of the Christian walk, the Word, and the state of current affairs from a Christian perspective. Your writings are like an Encyclopedia of what really matters today. I’m blessed to have happened upon your work and will continue to follow you throughout the years ahead. May you be richly blessed for all the good you are doing for the Kingdom.

  • Many thanks indeed Kim.

  • Hi Bill. I totally agree with Kim Penson. I also look on line each day to discover your latest entry. Your output has been amazing over the years, with such thoughtful and well researched responses. I remember hearing of a well-known author who, for all his popularity, only saw perhaps two people actually reading his books. But C S Lewis turned out OK. Thanks for continuing to speak so clearly to today’s issues, fashioning a Christian response to help shape our thoughts, and standing up for Biblical integrity. So many of us do appreciate it!

  • Bill I have zero plans of attending your funeral – I have seniority and expect my funeral sooner!
    One overseas visitor we had said the least jet-lag he had ever had was when he forced himself to stay awake the whole of our day-time when he arrived in Australia and only went to bed when it was dark. He insisted on going on a family outing with us to Healesville Sanctuary, on arrival day, nodded of several times in the car. OK he went to bed as soon as it was dark, but he says he slept very well and was good the next day. So try to eat, sleep and wake according to destination time starting now. Bless you heaps!

  • Dear Bill
    I always read your writings and as such, you have at least one disciple.

    As for your funeral, I do not know how many will come to mine but I do know that I will not be there.

    John Abbott

  • Hi Bill, Your posts have made a massive difference to me. Ten years or so ago I was very politically and culturally unaware of what was really going on. God used you in my life to wake me up, and I am ever so grateful. Bless you

  • Bill, you have come a long way since you started the Salt Sharkers back in late 1990s when you were at Blacky Bapt on Holland Road. Your sphere of influence has gone far and wide since then. Well done brother. Keep up the good works.

  • Hi Bill, Thank you for your positive articles from Ghana, what a wonderful Christian body of believers and true disciples, together with China and many other country pockets, FAITH is alive, thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ!

    Hope & pray for a restful return journey, and looking forward to reading you brilliant Holy Spirit led articles of faith, it keeps us all going forward (:

    Cheers& blessings

    Eric Hansen

  • We truly won’t know till we get to heaven. we often don’t tell someone good job or I am proud of you or I like what you did or said because we think someone else will but as a person with low self-esteem I can tell you from personal experience that many times there isn’t someone else or anyone period. (I could probably go to a party and no one know I was there leave early no one would know I left and ask about the party the next day and people say ‘oh you were there?’ I almost wonder if will run into people in heaven saying practically the same thing ‘oh you’re here?’)

    A lot of people don’t hear word of encouragement and thus get melancholy and depressed. there a many people who don’t have friends. I grew up from 5th grade on without any. I’m sure people thought I had some so they didn’t have to worry but no-one ever asked me or bothered to find out. believe me while the words on a internet boards matter, and I am grateful for all I get, and help in person words are best. (amazing how we now know many people around the world but not around the corner, we have friends ‘down under’ but not down the street, we know a lovely couple in the neighboring country but not the lowly couple who are our neighbors, we have gaming friends in the old soviet block but dont know people in the next street block.) having family to support you is good but you need more. even if you think the person has heard what you want to say 1000 times say it any way you may be surprised to find out NO ONE has ever said that to them.

    I remember volunteering at a local elementary and one day one of the kids that sometimes has issues acting out did real good that day I told him I was proud of him and he was so glad to hear that (big smile face lit up). it can mean a whole lot as a kid. but even as a adult encouragement means a lot. while ultimately we are working for the praise of God it doesn’t hurt to get some praise occasionally from men to keep you going.

    While I wouldn’t mind hearing “well don’t though good and faithful servant” I would settle for “I am proud of you”. Maybe He’ll stop by every once in a while and say hi. I don’t think I would be worth more than that.

  • Hi Bill. Blessings in JESUS’ Name. You certainly have my prayers for your long haul home. Please be encouraged. You greatly influence several people I know – including myself! I can always depend on you to give me a Biblical perspective on the subjects you write about and I greatly appreciate your efforts. Judging by the responses this far so do many others. You are a good and faithful servant to the pure Word of GOD. Blessings from a fellow melancholic! Cheryl

  • Hi Bill
    A couple of minor points that may or may not help.

    As regards influence, who has more – the guy who changes 1,000 lives, or the guy who changed the life of the guy who changed 1,000 lives? Not that I’m seeking to challenge Geoff Russell’s point that you’re vastly underestimating your impact, just that you need to think more in family tree type terms – the seed you plant may bloom and plant seeds of its own which will in turn plant seeds of it own and on and on the cycle goes.

    As for your 40 hour ‘travel time’, I thought it bad when I had a 24+ hour gap – leave early afternoon, arrive late morning\early afternoon the next day. Presumably you already have your own method worked out but if I can suggest what I worked out for myself, try to secure an aisle seat so you can stretch your legs plus access the loo easily, guzzle Coke – or other caffeinated beverages, and zone out on movies. If you can sleep on the plane that might while away the time but I never did so figured it easiest to just stay up until mid-afternoon the next day whereupon I’d crash for 12 hours or so.

    Godspeed.

  • Dear Bill, I’m thinking that you have waaaay more influence than you realise! I believe there are many like myself, who read, study and appreciate your wise words, and are inspired to act on them by reading the Bible with new understanding, reading the books you have written (I have two) and collecting the books you recommend….but we don’t say much. Like the “quiet Australians” who don’t feel we have anything to add at the time, but are storing it all up for our God-ordained opportunity for action.
    Bill, I love your articles, and I love you as my brother in Christ, who shines forth your God-given wisdom for the benefit of so many. God bless you, my friend!

  • Many thanks Jan. Bless you.

  • Greetings Bill, speaking out on evil will bring us more enemies than friends. I think about the death of Jesus and how few were there. I thank God for you and your years of service. I think it’s better that in this life we don’t realize how much our efforts make a positive influence. Most chose Barabbas over Jesus.

    Blessings 2 You

  • Dear Bill,
    Many years ago you came to Singapore at the invitation of a friend who was a judge . Yiu even spoke to a weekday group in my church , Church of Singapore . I have since then benefitted from following Culture Watch and shamelessly used your articles during bible studies and in my sermons referred young Christians to mine your thoughts on the many contemporary topics.
    You can count me as one if the “10,000 reasons” why you should book larger hall for your final service!!! Love you and thank you for all your sacrifices in speaking the truth, showing the way and preaching the life in a Jesus Christ . Robin . Singapore .

  • Many thanks indeed Robin. Bless you.

Leave a Reply