I Can't Find My Car (Influence)
The call came into my house at 1:00 AM. It was Kate, a young lady in my youth ministry who was in a bit of trouble. She was hysterical on the phone. I tried to calm her down, but she just kept screaming and crying. I shouted, "Kate, what is going on? What's wrong?" Through her tears, she cried back, "I can't find my car. I can't find my car." I heard laughter in the background. "Where are you?" I asked. "I'm at Jennifer's. Can you come get me?" So, I got out of bed, put on some clothes, and headed over to Jennifer's house. When I got there, I couldn't believe my eyes. Jennifer was having the party of the century. High school kids from everywhere were partying it up. When I stepped out of my car and headed inside, you should have seen the kids run. You see, everyone knew me. Even students I had never met knew who Todd Cook was, and they quickly ran away. I walked into the entryway of the house, and there was Kate, sitting on the steps sobbing. She was drunk. Big time drunk. When she saw me, she jumped into my arms and said, "Todd, I have tried to get these people to help me find my car, but they just laugh at me. Can you help me?" The kids continued to scatter into their cars and take off. The party was officially over since the student pastor had shown up. I grabbed Kate and walked her outside. There in the street right in front of the house was her car. The car she couldn't find. "Kate, is that your car?" "Yes, thank you, thank you, Todd. I'll just drive home now." "No, you won't. I'll take you home." I will never forget the expression on Kate's parent's faces as they answered the door. It was as if someone took out their heart, ripped it apart, and killed them, but that they didn't have the good sense to lie down and die. They thanked me for bringing their daughter home. And then closed the door. That night crushed me. You see, Kate was one of the leaders in our Student Ministry. She was very vocal about her faith, and she brought tons of kids to our mid-week program. In one night, she blew her witness for Christ to pieces. In one night, the influence that Kate had on others becoming Christians was gone. Would Kate be forgiven by God? Absolutely. Would Kate be forgiven by her parents? Yes. Would Kate be forgiven by me? You bet. But would those around her who she was trying to influence for Christ forgive her? Some did, and some didn't. Because Kate had one bad night, in the minds of some students, God became a joke, and unfortunately, something they had once considered for themselves was no longer an option. You see, the decisions you make today not only influence your life 5,10,15, even 20 years from now. They also influence, for good or bad, the lives of those who are looking up to you. Every day you need to be on your guard. Ask God to direct your path. Keep your focus on Him. Kate never had the influence over certain people again. Even though she apologized and was forgiven by God, her witness never overcame that one tragic night in their eyes. So, be wise. Keep your eyes on the Son; that way, you won't be the next one to be burned.
1. Integrity is a powerful force on others. If you truly are a man or woman of your word, then you will be respected, and people will listen to what you have to say, even if they don't agree with you. In Mark 12:13-14, the Pharisees are trying to catch Jesus in His words. Even though they hated Him, notice what they said about Him. What two characteristics did they compliment Jesus on?
2. In I Timothy 4:12, to maintain a person's influence on others, what are the four areas we should set an example in?
3. I Timothy 6:6-12 is a formula for keeping one's influence and moral edge sharp. Write down five insights you gained from these verses.
4. If you have done anything to hurt your integrity or influence for Christ on others, confess it to God and then ask for forgiveness from the people you have hurt. Do it today.
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