We allow others to hijack the concept of influence. It is killing us.
As a kid growing up in church, school and community, I had influencers. Many intentionally and many without knowing it poured into my life.
I then noticed untrue, unreal trends. They did not reflect what I observed. People in churches gave testimonies, and they were mostly in first person, and over and over it was “God showed me” and “I realized” and — I knew they were omitting older folks, family, friends and strangers who shared zest, hope, light, strength, insights with that person testifying.
It was not honest.
I also noticed “influencers” lived in Washington DC, New York and London and held sway in decisions affecting thousands, millions of people.
But my life’s deep influencers were like Mary Nixon who graduated herself so she could teach us AP English in 7th, 9th, and 11th grades. She showed me we can love literature, think deeply while wrestling with life issues and still believe, in fact, believe more deeply. My grandfather and namesake showed me courage got him through a World War, built his values and beliefs, and when I was older I found, his courageous love moved him to adopt my mom and better to me than many bloodline grandfathers.
And I DO have mini influencers.
A student who is first in her family to graduate college.
An abused boy striving to be a great dad to three girls.
The crossing guard lady for my son’s school: twenty years and counting.
The two ladies who open the doors to worship for the last several years.
None of them have a website, blog, Facebook business page, or more than a hundred followers.
I remember a cartoon from, I think, the New Yorker. Two undertakers stand outside an empty room with someone in repose in a casket. One whispers to the other, “I thought a big room because he had 2,000 Facebook friends.”
Every time someone hijacks an important word like “influence” or “friend” we are closer to being like Neo before Trinity or Morpheus.
So says a guy writing to influence you rather than invest a lunch or anything expensive to actually touch your life.