The circles of our influence

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It’s no surprise that everyone has the power to affect the life of another person. It comes down to whether the association is going to benefit or not. Two people recently in the news generated opposite outcomes in their impact on others. Separated in age by 80 years, one is 99 year-old Billy Graham and the other is 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz. Graham — who died a week after Cruz shot up his Florida high school — is known for reaching out worldwide with a message of hope in Christ. He established a humanitarian organization that helps people in need around the globe.

He wasn’t perfect. But he was generally loved and respected. He appeared over 50 times on Gallup’s list of “One of the Ten Most Admired Men in the World.”

Cruz had someone in his life attempting to make a positive difference. Adoptive parents who must have felt they could give him and his younger brother a good home. What went wrong? Both these people died, the mother just a few months ago at age 68 and the father over a dozen years ago at 67. Making them more grandparent age than parent.

We don’t know the full story. Each boy developed problems. It can’t have been easy for this older couple. Had either parent lived — particularly the mother — would there have been a better outcome? Or would a similar event have merely been delayed?

Nikolas won’t make any admiration list. He afflicted too many lives with death and pain and sorrow. Jesus has some piercing words about the thief coming to “steal, kill, and destroy.” It would seem this thief moved in on Nikolas. Nikolas stole the irreplaceable from others — and in doing so heaped destruction on himself.

We each have a circle which holds all the people we know — or influence. And that is where we take the stand to affect a life. The world may never hear of it, but my choice to add to — or subtract from — those people matters in their lives and mine.

Counter to my best hope for myself I don’t always make the plus column within my circle. That’s when I have to remember, “It’s never too late to do the right thing.” And if that seems out of reach there’s this — “Just do the next right thing, one thing at a time.”

It might be a simple dream. But I wish to do my circle good.

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