Today ronniefloyd.com welcomes guest writer Dr. Nick Floyd. Dr. Floyd is a Teaching Pastor of Cross Church Northwest Arkansas.
Stephen: A Man of Godly Influence
We are all stewards – but most of the time we think about and preach about stewardship in relation to the management of our finances or elements of time. But consider this: One of the greatest areas of stewardship within our life is our influence.
Every member of our congregation has an influence, whether that is in the business world, in a classroom setting, within their home, etc. Whatever the setting may be everyone has an element of influence.
This past Sunday I posed a question to our congregation: How will you use the influence that God has gifted you with?
Then I issued this challenge: Use the influence God has given you for His purposes and His glory.
The Story of Stephen
Let’s be honest, most individuals use their influence in the same way — all for themselves and for their own advantage. The book of Acts, specifically chapters 6 and 7, calls our attention to a man of God, Stephen, who used his influence for God’s purposes and His glory. I encourage you to thoughtfully reread Acts 6 and 7 to reinforce how important the story of Stephen is to understanding using personal influence for God’s purposes and His glory.
In your reading you will find that Stephen remains a prime example of a man that stewarded his influence to advance the Kingdom of Christ. The text reveals to us that Stephen was not a pastor or an apostle, but rather “just” a Godly man in the church of Jerusalem. We can confidently assume that Stephen was living in such a way that he was viewed as a man of good reputation who was full of the Holy Spirit and Godly wisdom. Stephen’s faith flowed out of the presence of the Holy Spirit in his life —having great faith is a result of being full of the Spirit.
Stephen stood for Jesus Christ, and his stance for Christ cost him his life. Few of our church members will ever be called on to be martyrs but each and every one of them has been called to die unto themselves and follow Christ no matter what the cost. Standing for Christ will always involve a cost. If your people are ready to stand for Christ, then they need to be ready to suffer for Christ. Satan will wage a war against you and your people, thus it is important to reflect on how Stephen suffered well for Christ and influenced the people of Jerusalem.
Questions for Personal Reflection
Where do I have influence?
How can I use that influence to stand for Jesus?
Will I commit to use my influence for God’s purposes and His glory?
Am I being who I need to be so that when God gives me an opportunity to use my influence, there’s nothing standing in the way?
Pastor, I encourage you to ask yourself the questions above and answer them honestly and often, as I will do the same.
May your influence stand for Christ,
Teaching Pastor, Cross Church Northwest Arkansas
Conflict seems inevitable in this life doesn’t it? Whether between parents and kids, siblings, pastors and deacons, co-workers or people arguing on social media, conflict is just a click or thoughtless response away.
With as many conflicts as we endure along the way one might come to think people really are not that concerned with it. One might think people are content to live with fractured relationships and just move on. That would not be the case.
A Willingness to Take Responsibility
A recent survey conducted by LifeWay Research and Bible Studies for Life found that 85 percent of Americans surveyed either strongly agree or agree that “they are prepared to resolve conflict between them and others.”
This is astounding! Clearly people do not want to live in conflict and want it resolved. Eighty-five percent of people not only do not want conflict to continue between family members, friends, and co-workers, but they are willing to take responsibility to resolve it.
One of the strengths of small groups in the family of faith is the emphasis on oneness. The psalmist wrote, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers can live together!” (Psalm 133:1, HCSB). That harmony is commended by God and should encourage us to encourage others to reconciliation.
So, what can God’s people do to facilitate reconciliation between conflicted parties?
Facilitating Forgiveness and Reconciliation
We can learn, practice, and teach what the Scripture says about forgiveness. When we have practiced forgiveness we can be conduits of reconciliation for others. When we bear grudges our ability to lead others down the path of forgiveness is hindered.
We can encourage and prepare those who are willing to resolve the conflict to take the next step. Often good intentions do not get to the point of action. It is very easy to say it, but another thing entirely to follow through. Because unresolved conflict is so damaging, we as believers should be catalysts in helping others. Does it need to be a phone call? What about an appointment at a coffee shop? Is a third-party needed?
Living as Peacemakers
Jesus said, “The peacemakers are blessed, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). Paul “urged” the Ephesian believers to be “diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.” When we facilitate reconciliation we bear witness to the call to be peacemakers. This, in turn, bears witness to the truth of the Gospel.
I am thankful Bible Studies for Life has been designed in such a way that resolving conflict is a natural by-product of the study. Because of its emphasis on relationships, we are led to seek the quality of fellowship and relationship with others that God intends for His people. The appeal of this kind of life should not be lost on us. Amidst that vast majority who are willing to take the first step in conflict resolution is a number of others who will realize God has already taken the first step toward them.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. FloydSenior Pastor, Cross Church Northwest Arkansas General Editor, Bible Studies for Life