Wheel of Influence
Draw a circle on a piece of paper and write your name in it. Draw 5 spokes coming out from the centre and write at the end of each spoke a person’s name who has influenced you and helped to make you who you think you are. Share with the group a brief explanation of why each name is there. Do not forget the bad influences too!
You may have seen the TV programme ‘Who do you think you are?’ where famous people examine their ancestors. Some seem to have interesting pasts and many are emotionally distressed when they see how the previous generations survived circumstances such as poverty and war. The actor Larry Lamb was very interesting as his mother had been adopted and so he
knew very little about his birth family and yet often wondered where his love of the stage came from. Lamb found fame late in life and had always thought that he was the first member of his family to work in the entertainment business but he was thrilled to discover that he actually descends from a family of showmen who were relatively famous on the fairground circuit in the early 20th century. Lion tamers with fantastical names such as Jimmy Wildbeast and Martini Bartlett came to light as Lamb delved into his mother’s family.
The question is often raised about nature or nurture… are we what our genes dictate, are we what our life experiences make us, or, as many people think, are we a mixture of both? What do you think?
Well, let us consider one stage further than that. ‘Why do you think you are who you think you are?’ Do I talk a lot because my dear Dad did? Do I like cakes because my Mum worked in a bakery? Do I love to sing because
my old Corps Cadet Guardian [or youth group leader] taught me to? I know who I think I am… but why do I think I am like that? Who shaped me, who influenced me, just who and what has made me who I am today?
We are told that we must be very careful these days of identity theft. There are people who are only too ready to use our name and address, our bank details etc. to commit all types of frauds and swindles. They pretend to be us to gain all sorts of benefits. There are stories from the war time about doubles being used for people like Churchill to protect them; there are even people today who make their living as lookalikes for the Queen and other famous people. Identity theft however is the deliberate use of someone else’s identity as a method to gain a financial advantage. We need to keep safe from such things but also in a changing world it is hard sometimes to hold onto our identities in a different way; who we really are as individuals. We are not just the person with the dog, the person with the blue curtains, the person who needs an eye test. We are still who we are when all alone, as well as when we are with others. It is one of the saddest things when people
who have found their identities in their work then and find themselves at a loss. Our identity is not found in others, it is found in God.
Whatever our identity now we can be assured that it is rooted and grounded in the image of God himself. Others may have had influence on us, for good and bad, but we started off as his children. The verse goes on to say ‘God blessed them’. Through all our days we are assured that God himself has watched over our developing identity and blessed us. No-one can steal that identity from us, no-one can pretend to be us before God. He knows and understands all there is about us, he knows our true identity. Throughout the journey of life God loves to see us become fully the person he planned us to be, to live life in all its fullness and part of that plan is to fulfil the potential of our identity in him, showing his love, care, patience, and joy, daily as we live for him.
With grateful thanks to Major Wendy Knott (Rtd)
If I could look at other people’s wheels of influence, whose lives would I hope to see my name written on?
Whose life can I influence today?
What could I do in the next few weeks to enhance my identity so it is closer to the image of God I was created in?
Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-14
What am I that you should notice me?
Made in the likeness of God?
You have given me a place to be,
Made in the likeness of God.
Major Joy Webb