You’ll Love Her More and More

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe two began in a small pond, in a small boat, rowing with separate strokes. The banks were well-defined, the waters were shallow, and the current was non-existent. It was easy. Like a kiddie pool without the kids.

“You’ll love her more and more,” they said. I imagined growing old together in this pond, rowing in ever-increasing unison. The joys of our pond would multiply again and again and again. More fish, more toys, maybe a child or two to play by the bank while we rowed. An inflatable raft to soak in the sun when we tired of rowing the boat.

You’ll love her more and more.” And I knew it was true.

But the pond began to change. At first it grew a little bit deeper. The bottom wasn’t so easy to see anymore. The banks also widened, and I couldn’t reach the edge from the boat anymore. Our pond was more dangerous, but it was somehow more appealing. I had the sense that there were nooks and crannies I would never explore, even with a lifetime to row and swim. It wasn’t so much like a kiddie pool anymore, but it was strangely better.

Then the currents began to flow. The pond became a creek, then a stream, then a river. A few of the currents even threatened to toss one or both of us overboard. There were currents we seemed to generate: Fear, Anger, Pride, or Selfishness. Others blindsided us from beneath and beside the boat. They had awful names like Poverty, Loneliness, Sickness, and Death.

You’ll love her more and more,” they told me. And I knew it was true, but it wasn’t how I imagined.

I loved you more because you stayed in the boat with me and kept rowing, even when the currents were swift. Sometimes, in my selfishness and anger, I rowed against you, in the opposite direction. But you stayed in the boat anyway.

Your arms and my arms grew tired, but they also grew stronger. We did row in ever-increasing unison. It’s a strange thing, but once the currents were behind us, we laughed at them sometimes. Not because they were easy, or even particularly funny, but because we’d rowed through them together and they didn’t seem so terrible anymore. We laughed in delight because we were alive. And because neither of us had jumped overboard.

We looked back upstream and remembered the perils we had passed. I marveled at the depth of this woman sitting in the boat with me, this creative and lovely and wonderfully strong woman, whom I once thought I knew but didn’t really know. My understanding had been as shallow as that little pond, as narrow as its banks.

As the river got deeper, so did our love. As the currents grew stronger, so did our love.

And we increasingly noticed another Current, stronger than all of the others. Sometimes we’d missed it as we rowed, but it was often visible when we looked back. Sometimes the Current seemed to move us toward the terrible rapids, and sometimes away. But the Current was always there. The Current was alive, stronger than us both, and He –yes, it was a “He” — gave us His strength. He taught us to row, not only in sync with one another, but in sync with Him.

“You’ll love her more and more.” And it was truer than I’d imagined. Loving you more didn’t mean endlessly rowing around and around, in an easy little pond, watching the toys and shiny rocks multiply. Loving you more meant seeing your beauty and strength and grace, even as the water splashed up around us and we faced the ever-present realities of fallenness, sin, and death.

Loving you more meant watching carefully as you learned to row in sync with the Eternal Current, the One who made the river and the boat and these two feeble people inside. The One who made our love to be a dim reflection of His own.

Loving you more meant rowing together as we learned to row with Him. And it meant deciding every day that we’ll keep rowing together, until our boat reaches that junction where every river driven by the Eternal Current flows together, and His love overshadows and consumes our own. We’ll land on the shore at last, with every traveler and lover who rows on His river. We’ll lie down and bask in the light of His love, His perfect and ever-blazing love. The Tree of Life will line the shore and the light of God will never end.

“You’ll love her more and more,” they said. I believed them then, and I believe now more than ever.

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6 Character Traits that Real Influencers Have in Common

I’d be willing to bet that you don’t remember the last Tweet from your favorite author, pastor, or celebrity. You’ve probably forgotten that amazing viral blog post that was going around on Facebook last week. You might not even remember specific chapters or phrases from the most significant book you’ve read in the past year! In a world filled with noise, it’s hard to remember much of anything we read or hear.

On the other hand, if I asked you to name the most influential people in your life, you could probably tell me. You might be able to describe why they influenced you, and perhaps one or two key concepts they taught you. My hunch is a very small percentage of those influential people would be celebrities.

Reach is not the same thing as influence, although there is a connection between the two. Just because you can draw a large crowd doesn’t mean you’ll say anything important. The world is so full of loud voices that having a large audience doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll make a lasting impact.

How can we have an impact that won’t fade away tomorrow or next week, when the next new thing grabs everybody’s attention? Here are a few characteristics that I think true influencers have in common: 

1. Consistency. I don’t mean that influencers speak frequently, or even that they speak or write at regular intervals. Instead, they have a consistent message. True influencers become known for repeating one or two concepts over and over again. For the apostle Paul, it was the message that Christ’s death and resurrection paved the way to know God, apart from the Law. For Brene Brown, it’s the idea that vulnerability can transform our lives. For Howard Hendricks, it was the concept that knowing how to study the Bible and apply it was foundational to life and ministry. Influencers beat the same drums so many times that you can’t forget what they’re trying to tell you.

2. Integrity. People who make a lasting impact center their whole lives around their key values. Anybody who looks at the life of a true influencer knows that they really believe what they say. How would you feel if you found out that Dave Ramsey had thousands of dollars of credit card debt? (That’s not true, by the way, but it gives you an idea of the importance of integrity). Influencers know that their actions are as important as their speeches, Tweets, and blog posts.

3. Generosity. Influencers aren’t greedy with their ideas. They aren’t overly worried that somebody else will steal their glory. A true influencer seeks to build others up. Jesus’ early followers knew that the Gospel was more important than any one disciple, so they trained others to understand and teach the Scripture (see 2 Timothy 2:2). As a result, their influence didn’t die out when they did.

4. Love. Influencers are more concerned with people than with anything else. They work hard to finish projects, but they ultimately work for the benefit of other people. When you read Paul’s letters, for example, you can tell that his primary goal wasn’t to write books, but instead to help people know Jesus. That motivation comes through in what he wrote, and it’s a huge reason people keep reading it.

5. Expertise. You don’t need a doctorate to make an impact on other people, but you do need the sort of quiet preparation that is often in short supply these days. Whether you want to be a carpenter, a writer, a speaker, or a businessperson, you’ll have to commit to self-development. My wife is a very skilled newborn photographer, but she didn’t learn her craft overnight. She practiced, went to workshops, and persevered in order to get better. The same is true with anything worth doing: If you want to have an influence, you’ll work for years to develop expertise. There are no shortcuts to a life of lasting significance.

6. Passion. Last but not least, influencers truly believe that they can change the world. For those of us whose message is the Gospel, it means that we care about it deeply. I’m a relatively introverted person, and I don’t wear my emotions on my sleeve. But I still need to project passion and enthusiasm when it really matters. So do you if you want to make a difference. If you find your own mission boring, so will everybody else.

Whether you hope to influence one person or thousands, I think these six characteristics are essential. If you use social media, I think it’s possible to extend these characteristics into your online world, as well. Every tool at your disposal can be a medium for long-lasting (hopefully eternal) impact if you use it well.

Would you add anything to this list? I’d love to hear your examples of those who have influenced your life and how they exemplified these values!

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