[Yesterday's sermon is available for download at the bottom of this post.]
My sermon yesterday focused on Abimelek in Judges 9 and Jesus' teaching in Luke 17:1-4 to discuss how we influence people either positively or negatively. Abimelek was Gideon's son and was unhappy at how his family's name was being remembered so he set himself up as a judge. To cement his authority, he killed his 70 other brothers. Then he was appointed king over the people because of his "great" show of power. He further cemented his status of a positional, authoritative leader by becoming a war criminal when he burned down a tower with everyone still in it.
Abimelek points out the negative way of influencing people: seizing power and "leading" from a position of authority.
In contrast, Jesus taught us to watch ourselves and never be the reason someone is influenced negatively. Maybe he had Abimelek in mind when he said this. He taught us that we influence people relationally, not positionally or authoritatively. We can boss someone around and have them do what we say, but grudgingly...and the effects won't last.
Or we can take the way of Jesus. Befriend people, teach them gently, love them, and influence them by the way we forgive people and go out of our way not to cause others to stumble.
So we can be like Jesus...or be like Abimelek. How do you influence people?
Sermon: Influence (Judges 9 and Luke 17:1-4)