Philip Yancey is a best selling author who happens to be one of my favorite authors. Someone posted a note to Philip on his web site stating, “My two young children were killed in a horrible car crash 25 years ago. I lost my faith. Thanks to Philip’s [book] Disappointment with God I found my way back and here remain. Thank you, Lord.”
Philip Yancey replied, “If you were my only reader, all my work would be worthwhile.”
Yancey’s remarkable reply is a reminder that it’s not about big numbers. He has hundreds of thousands of readers of his many best selling books, but he would be happy with just one reader whose life was impacted by his writing in a big way!
We can easily discount our value in this world if we buy into society’s focus on big numbers, big crowds, and big results. Our sphere of influence may be small and our achievements less than spectacular compared to some, but we can make a big difference in that small sphere!
This can be illustrated in a negative way. Think of a few really nasty insulting phrases you could deliver, and imagine saying them to the people you know, the people you’ll come in contact with just in the next week: family, friends, co-workers, neighbors. You would ruin their day, to say nothing of your relationship with them! Enough of the negative. In contrast, you can have an amazingly positive influence on those same people just through loving and helpful words and actions! They may not seem like a big deal at the time, but little words and acts of kindness add up!
I remember from my college days, 47 or so years ago, a compliment a professor’s assistant made about a speech I had delivered in speech class. After a lifetime of giving speeches (we call them sermons in the church world) I still recall her comment and believe it’s impacted my public speaking all of these many years since.
There’s no sense lamenting over the seeming lack of opportunities to do great things for God or to influence a great number of people; it gets us nowhere. Instead, we can do a great deal of good by embracing the opportunities at hand to give an encouraging word, a helping hand, or in some other way add value to the lives of those within our sphere of influence.
“Love your neighbor [that’s the person within your sphere of influence] as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)