Influence, Concern, and God's Calling

What are you anxious about today? Has something made your blood boil in the past 24 hours? If you threw on the garb of a caped crusader, ready to fight injustice in the world, where would you start? We all have concerns that occupy our mental space. In his classic business book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey delineates between our circle of concern and our circle of influence. These circles are concentric with the circle of concern larger than the circle of influence. Our circle of concern contains all of the things that we are concerned about. Our circle of influence contains all the areas of our life in which we can actually affect change. The challenge for the Christian is to primarily operate in their circle of influence. There are two aspects to God's calling on our lives that encourage us to spend the bulk of our mental and physical energy in areas of our life upon which we actually have influence.

The first aspect is God's call on us to a specific area of influence. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul encourages Christians that God has not only saved them by grace but that they are also, "his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that they should walk in them." God's has already planned and prepared for you the places where he wants you to invest your life. That may be dying a martyrs death on the mission field or it may be as a faithful mom of toddlers. The challenge for the Christian is to exert as much energy as you can on the things God has given you to do, avoiding the distraction that comes from worrying about the work that God has given others to do.

The second aspect is God's call on others to labor in areas that you are concerned about but have no influence over. David was concerned to build the temple for God but God gave the responsibility to carry it out to Solomon. Paul knew that his calling was to plant churches while others were called to follow up his work with "watering" ministry. God is at work in the world calling his people to enact change with the skills and passions that he has given them. For example, this is the time of year that many of us are concerned about politics while few of us are actually politicians. Instead of political hand wringing, why not pray for Christian politicians who are influencing government at every level?

A row boat only gets to its destination if everyone does their job, rowing together. If each oarsman operates under his own authority or tries to perform a duty on the boat other than rowing, then the whole trip is placed in jeopardy. God has called and equipped you to invest in a certain area, in certain people, with certain gifts. Align your energy with God's call on your life and let him worry about the rest.