Who are you influencing?

I was driving home from work last night, listening to a Youtube video by Mike Korzemba about Michael Jordan. The content of the video centered on David Thompson, who is a former NBA star who has been, for the most part, forgotten.

However, this dude was the guy who Michael Jordan patterned his game after. So, Korzemba’s point was that the world would not have had Michael Jordan (or at least the version of him that we know) if it had not been for David Thompson.

This is fairly incredible to consider.

Behind every individual is a plethora of other people who formed him or her into who they are.

You hear this all the time in the music industry as well. Singers and bands will discuss who their influences are. We enjoy this music primarily based on the talents of these artists but also because of the talents of those who came before them.

This got me to thinking. Who has had the biggest influence in my life? Why am I the way that I am? Granted, this also brings the argument of nature vs. nurture into play but we will sidestep that one for today.

What individuals can be identified in your life as primary influences?

Zach’s Influencers…

Ed Strange – Not every person that shows up on this list will be there for positive reasons. I won’t spend too much time on dad because (if you are a regular reader of the blog or have purchased my book) I have already been down that road before.

He taught me a lot in life. Dad taught me all the things that I shouldn’t do. However, he did it all in the wrong way. I learned more about what not to do by watching his actions than what to do from his words. Hope that makes sense.

Mary Forth – Mom taught me to be patient, among other things. To tolerate everything that she did in her first marriage for as long as she did is tremendous.

Anna Mae LewisGrannie Annie always said to me, “Zach, the most important thing is that you are kind to people no matter how they treat you. Jesus would want that from you.” Those words are constantly in the back of my mind, probably more so than anything that anyone else has ever said to me.

Matt McGregor – I was already in my late 20’s when Matt made his way into my life. He was a department manager at the Wal–Mart where I worked and also a pastor at a church in Charleston, IL. I was struggling to find myself as an adult. I have always been a Christian with a desire to grow in Christ. However, my will fails me at times and my late 20’s was a struggle.

I was unmarried and living with some guys in a run down house in Charleston. I wasn’t down and out but I had no ambition to do or be anything. Every day, I went home from work and played video games until it was time to go to bed.

Matt would work on his sermon material during his breaks at work. This drew me to him initially. However, as I got to know him, I found myself wanting to be like him. He was a respected man in his family and at the work place. I had never met a man of integrity like him. Even today, I find myself looking back at Matt as a model for behavior in my life.

Elisa Strange – I feel like my life really began the day that Elisa and I began dating. It’s easy to slide through life when you have nothing to be responsible for. This should change (it doesn’t always) when you find that person who holds you accountable for life.

We got married fast, just six months after we met. I feel like I was a mess of a person prior to this. I joke with her that she picked me up off of the scrap heap though I don’t feel like that was much of a stretch. Now, it’s time to wake up and get it together. This was especially true a year later when….

Sydney Strange – became a part of my life. This is not to say that Caleb Strange was not as equally influential on me. I don’t think a person can truly understand God’s love until they have children. My children have done this for me.

God loves us with absolutely no conditions. This should be true with us as parents as well. Our children should never experience love that says, “as long as you do this or that.”

Their presence also heavily increased the feeling of responsibility that weighed on my shoulders. All of the sudden, I have to get it right. When you’re only responsible for yourself, the consequences of failing are minimal. It affects you but often does not affect anyone else. Those days are long gone.

The decisions I make, both right and wrong, effect four other people (Mysaiah included).

Now, take notice of something. Six of the seven people that I listed are family members with five of those six being people who lived (or live) in the same house as I do. This is important to consider.

In your life, there will be a great many influencers that come and go. Some of them will be people who you never actually meet. They may be television personalities or famous athletes.

However, the greatest influence that you will experience will be from those who you spend your day to day life with and that road goes both ways. They will influence you, but you will also be influencing them.

What kind of influence are you? Are you improving the lives of those around you through your actions and words. Or, are you giving them an example of how not to live?

Comment below and let me know your thoughts.

Life is Strange. Live it Well.

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