March 1, 2022
By David VanEpps
People may not always listen to what you say, but they will almost always pay attention to what you do. We all run in many circles: work teams, family, neighborhood, church, volunteer activities, friend networks, and other communities in which we participate. Our behavior, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can have lasting effects in each of those circles.
Circles of Influence
When you’re in a position of influence in any of those circles, which most of us are in some capacity, people often emulate your behavior. Your kids watch you cheat on your taxes as you tell them not to cheat on their homework. You tell your family to stop complaining as you complain about the unkempt yard next door. Or perhaps others notice when you pick up a piece of trash from the road when you thought nobody was looking. Your co-workers may even catch you reading, learning, and working hard when the boss is out of town.
Your behaviors are noticed, and often mimicked, by those in your circles. Thus, your behavior is amplified as it’s replicated by some of the people in your circles. The question is, what kind of amplifier are you?
When you throw a stone into a still pond, it creates a ring of ripples. Those ripples roll outward from the stone, and if the water is calm enough, those ripples will cover the entire pond. If you throw a second stone, it will create ripples in a similar pattern, and these ripples can amplify, or reduce, the other ripples.
In life, you’re the stone. Whether you realize it or not, your words, your actions, your behaviors set ripples in motion all the time. With a positive pattern of action, your ripples can amplify and have far reaching effects.
The positive role model sets a good example regardless of whether anybody is looking. Amplification is when others in your circle replicate your behavior. Then, in that person’s circles, others will emulate their behavior. And over time, the replicated behavior has a broad, lasting, positive, ripple effect.
In my faith life, I often feel like I’m not making a difference. How could I? I’m just a normal guy who does his normal job every day. There are pastors, missionaries, ministry professionals, and people who spend their entire lives trying to teach people the good news that there is a God who loves you so much that His Son died so that your sins and mine can be forgiven, fully and finally. He will give me eternal life if I simply believe and proclaim that Jesus is Lord. I love cool things, but a free gift like this is too good to pass up.
It often feels like everyone has heard that message, and I couldn’t possibly find someone who would listen to me or care. The good news is that they don’t have to.
By thinking like an amplifier, I simply need to live a life that others want to emulate. St Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” Rather than hate on social media, love on social media. Rather than complain, express gratitude. Rather than see the glass half empty, see the glass half full. Rather than drive by the homeless guy on the corner, hand him a can or bag of food. Live a life that evokes curiosity. Live a life that others want to emulate. Be consistent in who you are, regardless of who’s looking.
People may not always listen to what you say, but they will almost always pay attention to what you do. What do people see when they watch you? Do they wonder what’s behind all your positive words and actions? Do they want to emulate you?
At most, we spend 80-100 years living on earth. Make an overwhelmingly positive impact on every person you encounter. Be that exceptional person whom others choose to emulate. Much like the stone hitting the surface of the pond, constantly seek to cast long-lasting, far-reaching ripples that amplify over time and make a difference.
Photo Credit: Fabio Comparelli