WILD Titus Connection Volume 15, Number  9– September, 2021

Greetings.  A staff and a thermostat, two instruments people used or currently use to accomplish work.  Think about how you influence people as you read these articles.   Enjoy both articles.  Mike


          One of two tools shepherds used during the time Jesus talked about the Good Shepherd in John 10, was the staff, while the other was the rod.  The staff normally was a long stick and had a large curve on one end.  The staff was used to lead the shepherd’s sheep as he would go ahead of them (vs 4). 
          What does the staff represent for us?  First, vision in directing and leading the people God has given you responsibility to lead.  A shepherd would lead his flock out of the fold and find fresh pastures.  When you leave the sheep in one spot too long, all the good grass would be eaten up and they would quickly become malnourished. 
      The shepherd needed to know the terrain of the area and where to find greener grass, but he also needed to know how to get the sheep there.  The shepherd could not simply tell a couple of sheep the directions and expect any good results.  He had to guide his sheep using his staff to keep everyone going in the right direction.  This is vision, to see what others do not see and then to guide them to where they need to go, even though they do not often realize that where you are going with them is what they need to do. 
          Steering the flock resulted in the shepherd leading the front ones.  Then the rest of the sheep would follow.  In your responsibility, who are the influencers in your group, the ones who are considered the thermostats?  By thermostats I mean, the people who are the influencers that impact the rest of the group.  When something happens (and it will happen), who are the individuals that do not panic or get too excited, but simply, in their demeanor, keep controlled and speak influential truth into the lives of others, which in turn, guides people in the right direction?  They help control the temperature for the group and help keep the needed focus.
          In your realm of responsibility, do you know where you are going with your family, business, organization, church or even leading a volunteer group?  Do you want to do this?  So many people want to “lead” but are not willing to try new ways, have shots especially verbal attacks taken at them or willing to expend the energy it takes to go where your group has not gone before. 
          Putting together an idea in your head or on paper to where you want to see your people head takes effort.  It takes sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s leading to see what God sees or to see needs that could be accomplished, knowing your surroundings (what is going on around you in the world today -1 Chronicles 12:32 “Men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do”) and the courageous boldness to step out in faith, knowing full well that you have given God permission to change anything and everything you came up with. 
          Read through at least the first six chapters of Nehemiah.  See how God gave Nehemiah vision when he head the walls of Jerusalem were broken down and how God orchestrated Nehemiah’s life and circumstances to accomplish that feat. 
          The staff was also used when leading to provide gentle taps to keep the sheep headed in the right direction.  This is persuasion not coercion or manipulation.  For your people provide suggestions, ideas and requests of how to get where the group needs to go.  Using pronouncements or “I am God’s anointed, and no one will contradict me!”, is more of dictatorship and using fear to control.  Such leadership is the lowest level of influential leadership as I am saying to you that you will follow me because I have the position, and You Will Follow!
          This is a major reason why we need to build relationships with people we serve when we lead, so they will want to follow us because of what we have done for them.  Most often this takes time as people watch what you have done in the past for the organization or them.  This build confidence that causes them to want to follow because they know you have their best interests in mind.
          Lead by example, that is what it means to get out in front.  If you want a certain quality or behavior to be seen in your group, you have to exhibit it first.  Show them the way.  Use mess ups as positive teaching moments.  Do not use your “staff” to clobber people over the head.  Help people to learn from what was done incorrectly or wrong.  This is the concept of failing forward.  What you did failed.  You are not a failure and become more resilient and beneficial to the group. 
          Correction will be discussed when we share about the second tool shepherds used and that was the rod.  For now consider how much vision and direction you are providing to those you serve by leading.


       Get a blank sheet of normal size paper.  Draw about a 2-3 inch diameter circle in the middle.  Next, draw a bigger size circle around that smaller one and then finally draw one last circle around the other two. When finished you will have three concentric circles.  Inside each one, you will write many names, so give yourself room to write.
       In the first circle write down all the people you come in contact with each day.  In the second circle, write down the people you see within a week or two.  That can mean seeing them once in the week or two, or a couple times a week.  Finally in the outer circle, write down the people you see a couple times or once a year.  Take your time doing this.  Think about the people you come in contact with.  Depending on the time of year, the people and the quantity in the circles vary.  Plus your school classes change during the school year so people will be going in and out of the three circles.
       Once finished, look at the number of people you come in contact with.  We call these your Circles of Influence.  Often you think that there are very few people you can or do influence, when in fact, you potentially impact and influence many.  A group of 20 students did this and the average number of people in the three circles was 75 to 80.
        You have influence power.  The fact is we influence people all the time and in reverse, people influence us all the time.  The question is how are we influencing others and how are we being influenced?  These people are a natural influencer group.
           Matthew 5:14-16 says, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
          As Christians, you represent Jesus as his ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:17-20).  An ambassador represents his/her country in a foreign country and tells the foreign government what their country is doing or what its viewpoint is on an issue.  Jesus in Matthew 5 told us to show our influence to people to whom we come in contact with and represent Him.  There are some people in those circles that only you can have greatest impact upon. 
       Jesus told us that we do not need to go to a foreign country to be His ambassadors.  We are to do it with the people we come in contact with.  Let them see Jesus in you, as you serve them and treat them with love and respect.  Opportunities to explain the reason for how we live our lives before them will come.  Tell them what it means to be a Christian and how your live has been impacted by Jesus.   
      “Preach the Gospel always and when necessary, use words.”  That statement has been attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.  Whomever said it, those are words of wisdom.

       A thermometer records the temperature of an environment or a person.  A thermostat is a tool that causes a heater to increase or decrease in temperature.  In other words, the thermostat influences what the room or environment’s temperature will be.  Be a thermostat.  You be the one to impact your situation positively for Jesus when dealing with whatever comes into your life and the people being affected by what you do.  If you act like a thermometer, you will react to what is going on or go along with the crowd, allowing peer pressure to determine what you say or do. 

      Jesus made it clear that our light (Matthew 5:16) should be the thermostat to impact people you have influence over, to lead these people to Jesus, allowing the Holy Spirit a clearer path to draw them to Jesus.  Is your Circle of Influence group, people who you are representing Jesus well to them?  Let’s be thermostats!