By Carol Kent
One day as I was reading my Bible, a statement from the Apostle Paul shocked me: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). The words sounded brassy, almost arrogant. How could Paul possibly suggest that people follow his example? Aren’t all human beings flawed, at best?
As I studied Paul’s life, I came to see this statement in a more positive light. Paul had a dramatic conversion experience and was transformed by Christ. He was simply saying, “I am trying to follow the example of Christ so closely, that you can look at me and know how to impact lives as Jesus did.”
How can you and I accomplish this? We are imperfect people. We want to make a difference but are so aware of our failings that we don’t want others to get close. We lack Paul’s confidence.
Understanding who Jesus was teaches us how to influence other people on purpose. What would happen if every Christian woman decided to make a life-changing impact on twelve other women in her lifetime? The results would be remarkable.
Jesus influenced individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds. He saw in each the potential “to become” and inspired them to learn from Him. His principles for influencing lives are timeless and available for us today.
Will I say to God, “I will follow You with a pure heart. Show me the people You want me to impact for the journey of life?” Jesus had only three years of public ministry, but His impact still influences us today. What can we learn from Him about mentoring?
In studying Jesus’ example, I’ve observed some life-changing principles for making a lasting difference in the lives of others.
The Principle Of Time Alone With God
Jesus reminds us that the key to spiritual power is time alone with God. “With the crowd dispersed, He climbed the mountain so He could be by Himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night” (Matt. 14:23). Many Christians struggle with learning how to have a meaningful daily time with God. Just as the disciples talked out loud with Jesus and told Him their concerns, needs, confessions, and joys, so can we. Speaking honestly with others about our prayer life frees them to voice their own failures and successes in establishing time with Him.
The Principle Of Walking And Talking
Jesus taught the disciples in a natural, non-classroom environment. He often taught truth through the principle of walking and talking.
One such incident is told in John 9. Jesus and His disciples were walking and saw “a man blind from birth.” When the disciples asked if it was this man’s or his parents’ sin that had caused his blindness, Jesus seized a teachable moment. “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do” (Jn. 9:3). Then Jesus healed the man’s blindness and told him to wash in the pool of Siloam.
Jesus didn’t wait for a classroom setting to teach truth to His followers. He used everyday events and interruptions to make truth memorable. He took advantage of what I call “impact moments” – opportunities to teach or influence that are unplanned. In this same informal way, we can teach and encourage younger Christian women as we drink coffee in their kitchens and give advice on rearing children or as we work in the office. When we intentionally embrace the principle of walking and talking, we point others to God and encourage their potential.
The Principle Of Storytelling
“Why do you tell stories?” the disciples asked Jesus. “...I tell stories to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight” (Matt. 13:10,13).
Jesus knew how to capture people’s attention. He taught the unknown through the known. He used stories to capture the imaginations of His followers. The best influencers follow the example of Jesus and use stories to mold minds and hearts to demonstrate biblical truth.
The Principle Of Asking Questions
Jesus knew the power of a well-placed question. His questions were direct, simple, and intriguing.
One day Jesus came to the outskirts of Jericho. A blind man sat next to the road. He heard the crowd rustling and asked what was happening. When he was told that Jesus was going by, he yelled, “Jesus! Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!” (Lk.18:38). People told the man to be quiet, but he was relentless. Jesus stopped and asked the man, “What do you want me to do for you?” (vs. 41).
He told Jesus he wanted to see again and Jesus said, “Go ahead – see again! Your faith has saved and healed you!” (vs. 42).
Jesus gave the man an opportunity to voice his request and verbalize his belief. When we ask a woman what she wants from us, the answer can take her one step toward maturity.
The Principle Of Compassion
Jesus gave us a superb demonstration of this through one of His stories. He was confronted by a religion scholar who asked, “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?” (Lk. 10:25).
Jesus asked the man to tell Him what was written in God’s Law, and he responded, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence – and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself” (vs. 27).
After Jesus praised his answer, the man queried, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?” (vs. 29). Jesus answered his question with a story about a man who was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. He was attacked and beaten up by robbers, left half-dead. A priest came by and crossed the road, avoiding the injured man completely. Then a Levite came by, also offering no aid.
Finally, a Samaritan came by and “his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, “Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill – I’ll pay you on my way back’” (vs. 33-35).
Jesus asked which of the three became a neighbor to the injured man. The scholar responded, “The one who treated him kindly” (Lk. 10:37). Jesus told him to go and do the same. A main role of mentors is to model compassion, to be Jesus to the people we meet today.
Gene Taylor writes for a radio program in Detroit that sponsors local charities. One year they selected The Salvation Army. Gene boarded the “Bed and Bread Truck” to check it out.
While there, he saw an act of compassion that deeply moved him. He watched a young Salvation Army officer give a drunk man a cup of hot chocolate. The man took the cup and threw the hot beverage back in her face. This woman poured another cup, walked up to the same man and said, “Sir, I believe you dropped your hot chocolate. Here, have another.”
When they got back in the truck, Gene was irate and confused. “I can’t believe what I just saw,” he ranted. “What are you, some kind of a wimp?” “No,” she replied quietly, “I’m some kind of a Christian.” Later, Gene asked, “What gives you the strength to do what I just saw?” She shared the simple gospel message with him. That single act became a catalyst for spiritual transformation in his life.
Genuine compassion powerfully affects those who receive, give and observe it. As women who pour our lives and hearts into younger women, we need to practice it.
The Principle Of Unconditional Love
Jesus practiced the kind of love that doesn’t come naturally. In John 8 the Pharisees brought a woman to Him who had been caught in adultery. The Bible says, “They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?’” (Jn. 8:4-5).
Jesus paused while the religion scholars continued to badger Him. Then He said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone” (vs. 7). After hearing His words, the men walked away, leaving Him alone with the woman.
Jesus asked the woman if anyone had condemned her. She responded: “No one, Master.” “Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin” (vs. 11).
Jesus reminds us to love and forgive those who have been caught in sin. He further reminds us to point them in the right direction.
When you help a woman know who she is in Him – that God delights in her – her worth is validated, and she can begin the journey with Jesus. Zephaniah 3:17 reminds us: “He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Great influencers know how to nurture the potential in others to fulfill their God-given purpose. Becoming a woman of influence is costly, risky, and time consuming, but there can be no greater joy than knowing you have obediently begun to impact others by shaping hearts to the image of Jesus Christ.