The voice of the people. A new tide of group thinking. Becoming an “Influencer” on social media is a new ambition for growing kids, and a new career path for many people.
However, many Influencers are being influenced by other Influencers. Which Influencers can really say they’re set apart? Which Influencers can say they have a valuable message that will influence the world for good?
We are often influenced by what we see and hear around us. What we choose to reflect on, is what we become.
People generally have a herd mentality – perhaps that’s why Jesus said the type of herd we need to be are like sheep that follow and know the voice of a ‘good’ shepherd.
Mark 8:15 (MEV)
He [Jesus] warned them, “Take heed. Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.”
Jesus was telling His disciples not to be influenced by the spreading of certain messages.
Samuel, in the bible, was an Influencer who had a dramatic impact on his nation. He wasn’t influenced by the world around him, He was set apart and influenced by God.
Samuel grew up without his mother from the age of approximately three years old. His mother, Hannah, had promised him to God and committed them both to this difficult life journey. He grew up as a foster child under a priest who had failed in the parenting of his own two sons. The bible says they had a disregard for the Lord, and Eli had not trained or rebuked them young enough to follow what was right.
Being brought up in the tabernacle themselves, how had Eli’s sons chosen to invest so much in the world around them and then become Influencers of further corruption?
The Israelites embraced practises of the world around them like polygamy and idolatry. We can read how Eli’s sons didn’t reverence God as sovereign but sought their own power and were flagrantly contemptuous in their position of trust with the people.
Given what we know of Hannah, she did not forget Samuel and carelessly carry on with her own life. Each year she lovingly made new clothes for him, and if I may conjecture, she would have taken time when she went to the tabernacle to bond with him and remind him of why he was there, helping to establish his identity as a priest of the Lord, holy and set apart.
Such had been her desire for a son, she would hardly have abandoned him to deal with life as an orphan. Yet, he grew up largely without her, and under a priest who was lacking in many ways both as a parent and priest. Her heart must have bled over losing her little boy, yet she was resolute in her faithfulness to God’s work in his life. Perhaps she had seen a prophetic picture of his service to God and continued to pray that he would be used to turn that corrupt house of God around; even to be used in a mighty way for Israel who was at one of the lowest points in their history.
As a mother, I would have kept him away from there, thinking that was the worst place for him to grow up. Hannah’s insight, devotion to, and trust in God, was remarkable.
It’s extraordinary that Samuel was not corrupted, like Eli’s two sons. It’s extraordinary that Samuel became faithful and God-honouring despite the conditions he grew up in. It’s extraordinary that God assigned Samuel to that particular tabernacle, which was well-known for its corruption.
God was indeed faithful, but Hannah’s and Samuel’s journey, was difficult.
1 Samuel 2:35 (NIV)
I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind.
God was able to do what Hannah could not. God did what was in His heart and mind, not Eli’s. God took what Hannah gave, and even used the corruption of Shiloh and the priests there to shape Samuel’s own faithfulness.
We often think the corruption and adversities around us can only shape us for the worse, but this outstanding story demonstrates that if we cleave to the Lord, it’s those adversities that sharpen our insight and our own commitment to reflect God rather than the world.
Sometimes, we make choices to be what we are because we have seen what others are not.
This is my prayer for you and I, and for our children. That we won’t be influenced by the world’s habits and attentions, but that the chaos and alienation from God that we witness would prove a resoluteness in us, like Hannah and Samuel, to let God’s heart and mind dictate the way we live.