Who Matters the Most?

Yes, you are making a difference:

There is no question that a President or a Prime Minister can have a real impact on so many other people. So too a rock star or a famous actor or some high-flying celebrity. But the truth is, we all have an influence on others, at least to some extent.

And that can be for good or ill. Unless you live on a desert island, you will come into contact with other people, and even in quite small ways you will have some sort of impact on them. The Christian of course wants to have a good impact, and to have an influence that moves people closer to God.

But many of us might think we are not having much of an effect on other people. But the truth is, we will never know for sure just how our lives have touched others. Only in the next life will we know fully and finally just the sort of impact we had while on planet earth.

With all this in mind, let me offer three things here: some thoughts I had while walking the dog this morning, and two stories that are well worth sharing. As to my daily walks with Jilly dog (one in the morning and one in the afternoon), I often reflect on things as I stroll along. In fact, I am always reflecting on things – but I digress.

I sometimes, like many others, can have times of discouragement or depression, and I wonder what sort of life I am living, and who might be benefitting by it. When I start thinking that way, I can always come back to myself with this truth: well, at least Jilly is benefitting, as is my cat. If I was not around, who would look after them?

But still, the enemy comes along planting doubts in your mind. You start wondering, ‘If I were gone, would anyone notice? Would it matter to anyone? Would it make any difference in this world?’ But just as those thoughts crossed my mind again this morning, a neighbour crossed my path.

As I have said before, I try to pray for all the neighbours daily as I walk by their homes. This particular neighbour is an elderly man with cancer. He got diagnosed with it around the same time my wife did. And they were both going to the same hospital for their cancer treatments.

So we chatted for a while, and then I kept going with Jilly. And I immediately thought that it was quite nice of God to stop my darkened thinking and give me a real-life example of why it is a good thing that I am still here. If it is just to look after my animals and have this mini ministry to my neighbours, that is enough. I am making a difference.

And as I often say, it is quite possible that you might be the only person in your areas who is – or should be – praying for the neighbours around you. It might be that you alone are interceding for some of the people. Whether or not you see the fruit of such prayers in this life does not really matter. We are called to pray, and pray we should.

Now to my two stories. Both have been heard at various times. The first is found on the social media from time to time, and is worth running with here. It reminds us of just who matters the most. It goes like this:

Possibly the most important thing you’ll read this year…

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schulz, the creator of the ‘Peanuts’ comic strip.

You don’t have to actually answer the questions. Just ponder on them. Just read it straight through, and you’ll get the point.

  1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
  2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
  3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.
  4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
  5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
  6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday.

These are no second-rate achievers.

They are the best in their fields.

But the applause dies.

Awards tarnish …

Achievements are forgotten.

Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

  1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
  2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
  3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
  4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
  5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.


The lesson:

The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money … or the most awards. They simply are the ones who care the most.

Yes, a lot of truth is found there. And we must look at ourselves in this regard. Most of us are not and never will be a noted politician, a head of a corporation, a major Hollywood heartthrob, or a multi-millionaire. We are just ordinary Joes. But ordinary Joes can have an impact on others, especially if we let Christ have an impact on us.

And that brings me to my other story. This poem is well-known, and it is powerful. It is attributed to Rev. Dr James Allen Francis, 1926:

One Solitary Life

He was born in an obscure village
The child of a peasant woman
He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty

He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never travelled more than two hundred miles
From the place where he was born
He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself

He was only thirty three

His friends ran away
One of them denied him
He was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing
The only property he had on earth

When he was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend

Nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind’s progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life

Yes that one solitary life continues to influence everything and everyone. As his followers we can ask God to let us also make a small but vital impact where he has placed us. Let me conclude by sharing something I posted on the social media just the other day:

A friend (bless ya Rissa) posted a pic of me speaking at a meeting she arranged 6 years ago. I likely did hundreds of such meetings over the decades – most of them forgotten by me. But these pics remind us that they did indeed take place. That made me think that God has a complete record of all my talks. Whether or not they all made an impact for Christ and the Kingdom is another matter of course. One day I will find out…

[1291 words]

2 Replies to “Who Matters the Most?”

  1. Thank you Bill for your reflections, your challenging questions, your honesty and for this devotional. You have shared much in these examples of how to relate to others, and ‘brought home’ many truths. The reminder to be in prayer for our neighbors is so needed as we never know when or how God will answer, but there is no doubt they need prayer and we may be the only Christian in their lives.
    You have certainly impacted many lives and I think you do every time you write an article of exhortation or encouragement and when you share awareness of trends that may be anti God that have crept into our culture. Plus you have shared much about heroes of the faith like Bonhoffeur but mostly you challenge us to look at the life of Christ and to live out the word of God. (Thanks for keeping us on our spiritual toes)
    Thank you for that wonderful poem ‘the Solitary Life.’

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