What influences you?

Looking up the definition of Influence, Google returns:

“The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.”

With this in mind, one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves then is, “Who or what influences me?” The answer to that question will bring to light a huge amount of insight into our lives.

One of my favourite Casting Crown songs reminds us:

“O be careful little eyes what you see
O be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love
So, be careful little eyes what you see”

Of course, this is from the children’s song which goes on to warn us of what we hear and where we go (who we associate with).

So why the warning?

I had a coach who reminded me that while our thought life has tremendous influence on us, it is those things that control our thought life that are critical to be aware of.

Paul guides us in his writing to the Church in Rome:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

And the wise writer of Proverbs tells us
“As he thinketh is his heart, so is he.”
Our thoughts therefore are the building blocks of our reality. They guide our actions, shape our emotions, and pave the paths we tread in life.
So, it might be wise to ask, “what influences our thoughts?
One of the answers is in the inputs we receive daily. These inputs are the stimuli that we encounter in our lives, and they come from a variety of sources: what we watch, what we hear, who we spend time with, and even the places we choose to visit.
So, do we have much control over our thoughts? Wonderfully, the answer is yes. And it is a crucial area to steward.

Consider, for a moment, the power of what we watch. In the age of information, our screens are constantly bombarded with a barrage of images and messages. The shows, movies, and videos we consume seep into our subconscious, leaving a mark on our thought processes. Whether it’s the news shaping our worldview or a gripping series influencing our perspective on human relationships, our visual inputs play a significant role in shaping our thoughts.
Equally influential is what we hear.
Our auditory inputs include conversations, music, podcasts, and more. The melodies that resonate in our ears, the words we choose to listen to, and the conversations we engage in all have the power to mould our beliefs and opinions.
The people we surround ourselves with are yet another influential factor.
Our social circle can either uplift or drag us down. The thoughts, values, and behaviours of our friends and acquaintances often rub off on us. Their perspectives can become our own, and their influence can subtly steer our life’s course. It is imperative to choose our close companions wisely, as they play an instrumental role in shaping our thoughts and, by extension, our lives.
However, the most powerful influence we have is access to The Spirit of God.
What if we asked The Holy Spirit to guide us and give us discernment into the things we watch, the things we listen to, the people we associate with and the places we go. Allowing Him to direct our steps will ensure that we truly can live out Paul’s encouragement, writing to the Philippians:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

So then, what influences me are the same things that influence you. Let us allow God to show us the inputs and influences He wants for our lives and in so doing, live out his “good, pleasing and perfect will”.

By Sheldon Delport