Years ago I saw a sign at a doctor’s office that read:

All of our patients bring us joy. Some when they arrive; others when they leave.

Ouch. True though, isn’t it? Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, we affect those around us. Whether our sphere of influence is large or small, we make an impact on the people we come in contact with.

The big question is: how are we using that influence?

If someone interviewed your co-workers, what would they say about you? If you’re a writer, what do your stories say about you, your values, and your beliefs? If you’re an artist, what does your art reveal about the real you? What does the music you write and the songs you sing communicate about your heart?

At church on Sunday, Pastor Marty Shea said something that has been banging around in my brain. “The difference between influence, deception and manipulation is the motive and choice.”

That you and I will influence people is a given. But HOW we influence those around us is entirely up to us.

Lately, I’ve felt bombarded by negativism and all the yuck associated with political campaigns. As I head out today, I want to be someone who makes people smile, who offers encouragement, not criticism.

Take a moment to stop and think about how you can use your influence for good. The gospel of Matthew says, “You are the light of the world.”

In a dark and discouraging world, how can you have a positive impact on someone’s life today?