Are You and Your Spouse Under the Influence?

Influencer. Someone who has the power to “move the needle” – to affect the purchasing decisions and personal choices of others because of his or her status, knowledge, or relationship with the masses.

Fifteen years ago, the term wasn’t even in vogue as a desirable perch from which to work in society. Today, influencers are everywhere! And they make bank!

Influencer earnings are all over the place.

A novice influencer can make $100 every now and again. Micro-influencers, individuals with 10,000 to 50,000 followers, can earn between $40,000 and $100,000 a year. Major influencers with millions of followers can earn hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars per year. Dwayne “ the Rock” Johnson and Kylie Jenner each reportedly make more than $1 million for each Instagram post promoting a brand.

So, what has that got to do with my marriage, Kenneth?

Well, everything. Just stay with me.

We live in a world now full of influencers, but for a married couple, their greatest influencer on this planet should ideally be one another.

I know how that looks.

It was 14 years ago, and Vanessa and I had moved from Dallas to Houston to be closer to the twins, who lived in Houston with their biological mom. The Lord had been moving in our hearts and we knew we were doing the right thing. Dallas had been good to us – it was in that city that we had met and married, bought our first home, attended a great church, and had friends and fulfilling jobs.

But our move was prompted by the Holy Spirit, and we had been intentional in seeking to change zip codes.

I had received a job offer from a Houston-based company that offered us a sizable bump in pay. We certainly had mixed feelings, leaving the comfortable and moving to the unknown, but the posture of our hearts was obedience. We had counted the cost and we told the Lord “where You lead, we will follow.”

And we did.

Well, a few months into my new assignment, a totally unexpected wrinkle took form. My new boss began treating me with something just a little short of contempt.

Admittedly, I was learning a new position, but I was, as always, working very hard. She demeaned and criticized my work - and my character - and let me know that she was considering firing me. I had always done so well in the workplace – I was stunned!

I thought, “Lord, you brought us out here for this to happen? You know we moved out here for reasons that You approved – and now You are letting this happen. Why, Lord? Why?”

Of course, I felt terrible sharing my plight with Vanessa, but we’ve always been transparent about what ails us and she’s my safe harbor. I had to let her know that the once-promising job was not shaking out the way we had anticipated. I’m typically a calm and cool customer, but I was stressed. I couldn’t sleep, I was losing weight (well – it wasn’t all bad), and I was at my wit’s end. There was no pleasing this woman. I worked harder, worked longer, but this boss was having none of that.

But then again – neither was my number one influencer, my wife.

Vanessa sprang into action – she talked it through with me and helped me maintain an even keel as best I could. She helped me explore my options, including me talking to others in the workplace who knew what was going on. She encouraged me every day during that challenging time. She constantly checked on me and committed it all to fervent, constant prayer. She was working just as hard as I was, but she prioritized my needs far above her own and ensured I maintained my sanity and kept the faith. She reminded me of our God’s promises to those who believe.

She even brought much-needed humor to the situation. One evening I came home, somewhat dejected after another tough day, and my kind and genteel wife informed me that she was strongly considering “cutting” my boss. She told me that she had thought it through and that was the logical conclusion. Now Vanessa wouldn’t hurt a flea, so for her to say that made me double over in laughter.

That situation eventually cleared up. My boss was demoted and given a leave of absence to get herself together – I was not her only whipping post during that time, though I was the most visible.

As it turns out, she was going through some personal struggles at home and taking it out on her workplace. About a year later, she was back at work, clearly humbled, and she called me and ask to me come and visit with her. I did, and she apologized for her horrendous behavior. I couldn’t disagree with her – it was horrendous. But of course, I forgave her, and we moved on.

Had it not been for my biggest influencer, I really don’t know how I would have fared.

Our spouses are - or should be - our most valuable influencers. Vanessa’s workdays are often longer than mine but many mornings, she grabs Noella, our chihuahua, and walks me outside to the car to give me a goodbye hug and wish me well on my day at the office. Just today she sent me the sweetest note that said, “Thank you for being my best friend,” presumably because I sneaked out last night and washed her car. (It was dirty.)

I heard a lady say once, and I agree – love reciprocates!

Be a positive influencer on your spouse, on your children, on your family, on your friends and your colleagues.

Be a purposeful influencer on those within your sphere of, well, influence. You may not see the results, but the results will eventually be seen.

No, we may not ever make those millions, but our brand of influence can rate well with the Great Influencer, Jesus. I’ll take His recommendations anytime – and I yearn for His rewards!

One of my favorite Bible stories includes a very obscure character, Mephibosheth (pronounced me-fib-oh-sheth). Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan, the best friend of David, the future king of Israel. When Mephibosheth was a 5-year-old, his nurse dropped him while running away after the deaths of his father and grandfather, King Saul. He was unable to walk after the fall.

Years later, when David became king, he summoned Mephibosheth to the palace and allowed him to live there among royalty for the rest of his days. Because of David’s bond with Jonathan, he wanted to “show the kindness of God to him” (2 Samuel 9:3). Now that’s influence! Jonathan was gone but his influence lived on.

And Mephibosheth’s story reminds me that God has left a place for us at His table, in spite of our shortcomings. Why – because of the Great Influencer – Jesus.

I challenge you – be an influencer! It’s not about the dollars but it just makes sense!

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