Living Under the Influence
A Lesson Learned
A Lesson Learned
Several years ago as the Associate Dean of Students at Lees-McRae College, I was also in charge of campus ministries. One week I asked our student ministries leader to provide an announcement to me regarding the upcoming Bible studies we were sponsoring on the campus. An email was sent to me that said “Men’s Bible Study on this night at the location and Female Bible study on this night at this location.” I simply cut and pasted the announcement from that email and put it into the form that I needed to submit to our campus director of communications so that the announcements could be sent out through the campus email about the upcoming events. Later that day, I received a scathing email signed by one prestigious faculty member that mentioned he was writing on behalf of others about my use of language and lack of sensitivity. They were highly offended that I was so sexist by using the term men’s bible study and then referred to my use of the word female instead of women. I was told that I was not only demeaning women, but that I was also encouraging students to do so.
When I picked up my jaw off the floor and scratched my head, I immediately re-read what I had cut and pasted from my student ministries leader. I had simply taken what SHE had written, cut a pasted it literally into the other form. These faculty members were highly offended at my use of language, that I did not even write.
The first draft of my response was not very nice. If the old saying that “pen is mightier than the sword” was true, I had just written a response that was sharp and to the point (see what I did there?). After praying and rethinking my response, I took a more gentle approach. In my response, I shared with them that I was that in my household, I was the husband to a wife, father of 4 daughters, a son to my mother, brother to 2 sisters, a grandson to 2 grandmothers, the uncle to several nieces, and had a girl dog and a girl cat. I went on to say that I was encouraged to be in ministry due to the influence of a woman youth minister from my home church as a high school student and influenced greatly by 2 women that served at campus ministers at my college. The chairperson of my ordination council was a woman. Further more, if I was ever to be one that was demeaning of women, I would not ever be able to go home. I shared with them that they misunderstood my comments and I certainly did not mean to be offensive in any way. I then swallowed my pride and thanked them for bringing that to my attention and apologized for not being careful about my choice of words. Interestingly, I became very good friends over the years with these faculty members.
My point in telling you this story is not to show how great of a person I am, I know you already are aware of that, but my point is on this mother’s day, that I very quickly was able to show just how much my life had been influenced by women. I was able to prove, beyond a shadow of doubt, that I was not the person they seemed to think I was nor could I possibly be that kind of person.
I was not only a person that had been influenced, but a person that could influence.
As we are honoring mothers and all women today, I am reminded of several ladies we can find in scripture that were influences in many lives. As we look at this particular example, I think we can find several ways to be better influences.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Mary and Martha were sisters. Most think that Martha was the oldest, a widow perhaps and it was in her house that Jesus and his disciples shared a meal together. Anytime that Jesus had the opportunity, He would instruct those around Him and guide them in His word.
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
Each time you have Mary in the gospels, she is at the feet of Jesus. The position of a student in biblical times was at the feet of their instructor. Most Jewish Rabbis would not accept a woman for a student. Jesus however, delighted in teaching the word and permitted Mary to be a student, learning at His feet.
The first thing I can realize here that if I want to become a person of great influence, I need to be at the feet of Jesus! I need to become a student that is intently listening to His every word.
Martha, however, was so preoccupied with her work and her own burdens that she ignored her guest and was rude to her sister.
Mary was occupied with Jesus. Martha was occupied with her self.