I read a lot of material about influence because it’s important in my work as a freelance copywriter. And I understand how it applies to advertising, marketing communications, and public relations. But I was recently reminded that significant influence reaches far beyond business economics. It’s a lesson I will never forget. My family and I were attending the opening ceremony of a new conference building at the Indiana State Baptist Assembly. The event included dedicating a children’s resource/conference room in the name of my late mother-in-law, Diane Phillips. She died of cancer a few years ago after devoting her life to Children’s Ministry. The room was breathtakingly beautiful. Its walls were paneled in a glossy, cherry stained wood that exhibited the highest level of craftsmanship. We learned during the presentation that volunteers worked hundreds of hours to cut down, mill, and finish the wood that was used from trees on the camps’ property. After the presentation, a woman from the state Baptist office approached us. She told us she had never met Diane, but had observed the volunteers working on the room. The time they invested, the degree of loyalty they demonstrated, and the loving way they worked in Diane’s honor convinced her that Diane had been a remarkable woman who exerted a significant influence on others. It was visibly present in the lives of the volunteer workers. And it would continue through the practical use the resource room would now provide for ministry. As I’ve reflected on what she said, I’ve wondered. Does my influence mostly direct attention to myself as an authority in order to promote my business? Or does it extend significantly further towards something of greater, intrinsic worth? Here’s what I’ve determined from the experience. Significant Influence is Anchored in a Significant Source Diane was a recognized expert in Children’s ministry. She was a featured leader and speaker at both the state and national level. The knowledge and insight she shared at conferences and seminars helped many others improve their effectiveness in Children’s Ministry. It’s work that positively impacts the next generation. But the source of her influence did not extend from her own expertise or authority. It came from her commitment and passion to a greater cause—her faith in Jesus Christ. Rather than draw attention to herself, she directed it towards this greater, significant source. And her influence inspired in others a shared vision that went beyond her. So those volunteers who labored so loyally on that room were not just working to honor Diane. They were partners in ministry working to honor the God she served. Diane’s life on earth is over, but those she influenced are carrying on the vision she inspired in them. To me that’s pretty significant. Significant Influence is Marked by Lasting Values Diane would have been embarrassed by all the fuss made over her. But I’m certain she would have appreciated the practical nature of the conference/resource room that was dedicated in her honor. It represents a practical tool in a ministry that she valued. Because her commitment and passion was contagious, it influenced others by shaping in them similar values. This is significant because… The real impact of Diane’s life, of anyone’s life for that matter, is measured by the influence their values have another’s character. Very few physical achievements will make a positive impact beyond one generation. But positive values can influence and impact one generation after another. Consider the power of this value that has been handed down for 2,000 years: Do to others as you would have them do to you. Regardless of your religious convictions and beliefs about life after death, we share a universal reality. There’s only one thing of real significance that remains when you’re gone—people. That’s where your influence will have its most lasting effect. Significant Influence is Most Powerfully Effected by Personal Presence Social media is big. And it’s a powerful tool for driving influence. But it pales in size next to your personal presence. Diane never wrote a book or a blog. Instead, she wove her influence into many lives through inter-personal communication and one on one interaction. The take away? Your most profound and lasting influence will be on those who are closest to you. Why? Because they know the real you. How you react when someone cuts you off in traffic…what you say when you smash your finger…the things you watch and read. You know…the person you are when you think nobody’s watching…BUT THEY ARE. The people closest to you validate your authenticity and even more…reflect it in their lives. So write blogs, publish books, and impart wisdom and advice in snippets on social media. But keep in mind that none of it compares to the power of your presence. It’s caught more than taught by your real authenticity. And as your influence rubs off on others, it is demonstrated in their lives. And so on…and so on. So anchor you influence in a significant source, mark it with lasting value, and engage not just with your words, but with your personal presence. It will add significance to your life now and for generations to come. That’s what Diane did with her life. It’s what I’d like to do with mine. How about you?