J.C. Derrick: Small spheres of limitless influence

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, December 10th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. WORLD Radio’s J.C. Derrick now with some thoughts on personal influence and a life well lived.

J.C. DERRICK, MANAGING EDITOR: Recently a small map in my ESV study Bible caught my attention. It marked the area where the ministry of Jesus took place. 

And it was remarkably small. Towns we recognize from the gospels—like Nazareth, Capernaum, and Bethsaida—are bunched near the Sea of Galilee. 

Today we think of Israel as a small country, but Jesus spent most of his ministry in a significant subset of even that. The first-century region of Galilee would comfortably sit inside the U.S. state of Rhode Island. 

And yet, from there Jesus changed the world. 

He did it without the modern-day metrics we often use to measure influence: He did not have millions of Twitter followers, and He did not write a bunch of bestselling books.

He changed the world, of course, because the power of God was evident in everything He did. Because He was God… fulfilling the redemptive plan set in motion before time began.

Now, we’re not God, obviously, but I think there’s a takeaway here. If Jesus could accomplish so much so close to home, why do we often think we need a bigger stage? Why do we think our spheres of influence aren’t enough? 

I thought about that map in my Bible last week when my wife’s family made some sad news public: My father-in-law has ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. 

As the news rippled through their network of friends, literally hundreds of well-wishes and prayers came flooding in. 

But that’s not all. There was also a steady stream of people who said something like: Your parents were there for me during one of the most difficult times of my life. 

One said: Your dad showed me what to look for in a godly husband. 

Another one wrote on CaringBridge—quote—“I cannot begin to tell you what you did for me while I was 16 and 17… You changed my life… Since then, when I have been asked to think of someone who early on represented Christ to me, I always think of you… By my back door hangs the plaque that you gave me when I married 46 years ago.”

My in-laws are seeing the reward of spending more than 50 years investing in people, through church involvement, military service, and 15 years of full-time ministry.

And it’s funny, they’ve achieved enormous influence without ever publishing a book. They’re not bloggers. They’re not even on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

What they have done is write a lot of letters, emails, and thank you notes. They’ve hosted countless people in their home. They’ve spent a lot of time listening, teaching, and counseling… often one person at a time. 

It’s the kind of stuff any of us could do, but few of us actually do. The good news is there’s no reason we can’t. And there’s no time like the present to start. 

For WORLD Radio, I’m J.C. Derrick.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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