Who Influences Us?
2 Chronicles 24:1–25
Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years of Jehoiada the priest.
—2 Chronicles 24:2 (NIV)
Think about how other people have influenced your life. One couple I know, Brett and Kayla, were profoundly influenced by others. Brett had played multiple sports in high school and enjoyed a wonderful mentoring relationship with one of his coaches. But after he started playing sports in college, he found that it wasn’t the game he cared about as much as it was his former coach, and he ended up dropping out of athletics. Similarly, Kayla became active in her church’s women’s ministries because of the great lessons she had learned from the women’s leader in her previous church.
Influence is powerful. We often want to emulate good leaders and follow their examples. The high priest Jehoiada was a great influence on little King Joash, who was only seven years old when he became king. Joash needed some help ruling the kingdom, and Jehoiada stepped up as his helper and adviser. He chose two wives for Joash and helped Joash restore the temple in Jerusalem and resume worship of the Lord there.
Joash was heavily influenced by others—first by Jehoiada, who led him in the ways of God, and then, after Jehoiada died, by the officials of Judah, who abandoned God and worshiped other gods. When Jehoiada’s son Zechariah spoke out against idol worship, warning the king and his people that God would forsake them because they had forsaken God, Joash and his leaders had Zechariah stoned to death.
Like Joash, we have people who have had a major impact on our lives, and we feel lost when they are no longer with us. We may even think that we need others to step in to fill that gap. But like Joash, depending too much on others can prevent us from learning to make critical decisions in our lives.
The best role of a parent, mentor, teacher or pastor is that of helping others to learn how to think for themselves. If Jehoiada had taught Joash to think for himself, the story of this king might have had a different ending. Instead of being led by others, Joash might have been a strong, decisive king who set before the people a lifelong pattern of trusting God for guidance and direction.
My friends James and Elaine relied on the leadership and guidance of key people until they were in a couples’ group at church. The rule in that group was that everyone was expected to think about and discuss key issues and situations. The group then asked everyone to take one more step: Each couple was expected to reach their own conclusion on an issue, based on Scriptural guidelines, and explain to the group how they had come to that decision.
Learning and practicing that kind of decision making changed their marriage forever as James and Elaine learned how to think for themselves. Reaching their own conclusions on various issues became a lifelong pattern of learning God’s lessons without leaning on others to do it for them.
John R. Throop
- Who has greatly influenced our lives? Did they teach us mostly what to think or how to think? Describe their approaches.
- How are leaders or role models helpful for us? How can they be negative influences? How can we turn negative influences into positive results?
- What are some good ways for us to blend the positive influences of others into our lives? How can their lessons shape our faith and our values?