We recently hosted our best friends for almost a week here at Mexico Beach. A number of weeks ago one of them visited for a few days and we were able to share our life now with her. It’s not perfect but it’s the season of life we’re currently experiencing and enjoying! Most of our evenings are filled with scenes like this:
Living in a beach town that has year round residents of about 1,000 has it’s benefits! Of course the population swells beginning in March and will last until September but that’s ok.
For the past 27 months we’ve traveled every weekend or at least a portion of it to Tallahassee, Florida. First we commuted from Inverness until September 2012. Then for 7 months we made the commute from Mexico Beach. That season of our life was spiritually encouraging and fulfilling. But I’ve got to admit it was physically draining and not to mention the miles in the car and the time in the car. We calculated at one point that we spent literally a month (yes, one month) of our lives just commuting!
Cyndi and I both feel we were doing exactly what God wanted us to do during that season. We experienced lots of cool things, met some unbelievable people, led some great discussions, had some life changing conversations and like to think we were used by God in other’s lives as well.
That season has faded away and now we are taking a break. A time to refresh physically, emotionally and spiritually. This may be the first time in a very long time we are embracing a season in life like this. Without going into all the minute details, we know God has blessed us and placed us exactly where He wants us to be once again. We know He’s going to use us again in some incredible ways! We’ve learned that it’s not about being a Christian but instead it’s really about being a follower of Christ and that impacts the way we approach life!
In this season, there’s going to be lots of opportunities to see things like this:
And who knows? Maybe our venture into All Tide Up will continue to take off and will open other opportunities for us. In the meantime, there will continue to be days like this:
A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a friend about influence (actually wrote a quick thought about it on this blog).
Our talk was specifically about influence and responsibility – how is not defined by the other – and that the two are not equal. Simply because you have been relegated a responsibility within an organization does not equate to influence within the same organization. Responsibility is important. Without the accountability for what we are responsible for accomplishing our jobs would be devalued.
Influence is so much more than responsibility. Influence by definition (dictionary.com):
the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others: He used family influence to get the contract.
the action or process of producing effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of another or others: Her mother’s influence made her stay.
a person or thing that exerts influence: He is an influence for the good.
Is your influence expanding or shrinking? One of my biggest strengths over the years has been my sphere of influence. What I have observed is my influence is sometimes diminished depending on how I am viewed in an organization.
Is it better to have a larger role within an organization with less influence? Or should one use the strengths you have and exert your influence?
The conversation with my friend may have helped both of us with the answers. I tend to believe that if your influence is shrinking then something may not be right. Our ability to influence for good is far more important than our organizational status! And on top of that it’s important to remember that our circumstances don’t define who we really are!
About every three weeks I try to get together with some friends for coffee – older guys who get what Cyndi and I are doing and actually are living lives as followers of Christ! Lately, these guys have expanded the group to include some more “older” guys who have some free time and could certainly use the company – actually an outreach of sorts! I look forward to spending time with these men, I always smile a lot and have a chance to laugh – and usually come away with some wisdom of some sort!
Today was a little different. After our group time and as my friends were leaving the coffee shop, one of the men obviously wanted to talk to me alone. So we did – for more than an hour. This man lost his wife almost a year ago – cancer. This man has been a good friend and has allowed Cyndi and I to disciple him a little while – before his wife died. Today we talked about his wife, his loneliness, Jesus, giving financially, sharing Jesus with others, Christ followers, and more about his wife. Before our conversation ended, he apologized to me for the way some “Christians” treated Cyndi and I while at his church – he cried a bit – we both did.
Today I had a voice message on a telephone line in Tallahassee at City Church where I volunteer a great amount of time. (Tallahassee is 200 miles from Inverness – where I live – but that is another story!) I returned the call and was suprised to talk to a man who had tracked me down via Facebook and Google to ask about a friend – he knew my friend and I once worked together and lived in the same town. The conversation was a good one – I did all I could to promote my friend! But the conversation was more than just about my friend. We talked about grace and God’s love for us. And how God’s love for me doesn’t increase or decrease based on my works. We talked about people and their need for Jesus. We talked our children and how a place called The Well impacted their lives while attending Florida State University.
God used me today to talk to others. He used me to be compassionate to a man who needed a friend. Someone to cry with him and tell him it was ok to miss his wife.
God used me today to talk with a man about more than a reference check. We talked about God’s love and what that really means to us.
I think I may have needed these conversations more than the people who initiated them.
Today I thanked God for conversations.