Tuesday, December 6, 2011

People watch you...and you influence...

Most of us have heard the thought that, in a crowd, you influence at least seven people around you. We do have an influence on people and sometimes we don't even realize it. It can be a good influence or a bad influence, positive or negative, but like it or not, it's there. People watch us, no matter how little notoriety we have. The simple things, in life, that we do, are seen by those around us and by those we serve with, work with, are part of a crowd we are in, or are in our family. 

I was reminded of this fact at church this past Sunday. We have a habit of shaking hands at the beginning of our services after we open in congregational singing. I try to shake as many people's hands as I can and I especially like to shake the hands of the children and teens (I'm a little goofy and I work with those age groups in some church ministries, so I know them).  
I shook the hand of a young man about age three. I have probably done this over a hundred times with him in the past. This time, after I shook his hand, something was different. His dad came up to me, just moments after I walked away, and said that his son whispered to him, that I only shook his hand once (he thought it was funny, so he shared it with me). I didn't realize that this young boy paid so much attention to our handshakes. You see, normally, I shake his hand and either pretend that my hand is stuck to his or I vigorously shake it several times as he laughs. I shook his hand again, but did it the way he enjoyed and expected. 
Now, I know, that this is a small item, but it's still an influence and, to this boy, I was messing up by not shaking hands “correctly.” He's my buddy and I enjoy his laughter, but I truly forgot that I was influencing him and that he was watching me. Simple, but not to him. I'm so glad that I was not remembered for a negative thing that I had done or an unkind word I had said. He remembered me for a “cool handshake.” Could have been an epic fail if I had made wrong choices in the past and he remembered me for something negative. 
Lessons Learned: Realize that others pay attention to you and be careful of how you influence them.  
Thoughts: Who have you influenced today?

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