What does it mean to be a ‘spiritual giant’? I have been thinking about that term that we often use in regards to those who have tremendous significant input and influence in our lives. They could have been a close friend, an influential author, a faithful pastor or someone whose life speaks to us today having served faithfully.
I think spiritual giants seldom, if ever, realize the total effect of their lives at the moment. I don’t think, either, that this is ever the goal a person has. It is the by-product of faithfulness over time that has produced ripples of influence to you and I today. I believe that there are common characteristics of people who leave positive marks on our lives. Let’s talk about those.
- People who leave marks on our lives have been marked by others. There is a chain of people that extend back many years. Of course, that process began as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit called people to take their spiritual walk seriously. Imagine that! Someone cared enough about me as a lost, ‘going nowhere fast’ teenager to invite me to consider Jesus Christ and his message of hope! But even before this person had effected my life, someone had influenced her! We are called by God to carry on the influence of his love!
- People who leave marks on our lives realize that life is not about them. How rare a quality that is today! We want attention! We want people to notice us! But the ones that leave the greatest mark on our lives know life is about bringing glory to God every single day! They have been ‘infected’ with a spiritual walk that is humble enough to realize who they are!
- People who leave marks on our lives have developed spiritual disciplines. I don’t think we spend enough time talking about this. We talk about positions and power and influence, but life is maybe the sum of those things but not the result of them. You have heard the saying about Martin Luther that he was so busy that he needed to spend the first three hours of the day in prayer! The habits, the disciplines of prayer, Bible reading and memorization are as important as learning to skate is the the professional hockey player!
- People who leave marks on others have learned how to control their emotions. They are not dominated by their feelings, but rather, allow the Spirit of God to take control of each situation in order to bring glory to God and encouragement to others!
- People who leave marks on our lives have a genuine interest in others. They know that God put them in relationships to encourage others to know God, and then to grow in their relationship with him and others. God has blessed me through the years with many such people! I thank God for each one who has prayed with me, cried with me, and encouraged me to keep on keeping on!
The men who spent three years with the Lord Jesus Christ, had an erroneous idea as to their influence over others. One of the most well known sayings of the Lord is “Not so with you…” In Matthew 20:26-28, he said this to those he had been called to influence, “It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
With the same attitude that Jesus had, we must also influence others not by how smart we are but by being a servant!