Back in 1993, then Phoenix Suns basketball star Charles Barkley declared, “I am not a role model.” The issue was that he just wanted to play basketball, and his fame was getting in the way. However, the reality was that as he became more well known, his responsibility went beyond what he did on the basketball court.
I’m not Charles Barkley, nor do I play professional basketball. I’m not even well-known beyond a small circle of people who follow me because of my writing or what I do as a college professor. But I have established a reputation. And if you stick around, get good at what you do, you will establish a reputation as well. Good or bad, what you do beyond your area of expertise will affect others who watch you and some who even might try to emulate you.
I have a younger cousin who has struggled through life. He’s had a hard time of it, with family problems that haven’t made things any easier. But for some reason, he’s got in his mind that I’m a success and that I’m someone that he can look up to. When he asks for my advice or my opinion on something, I have to remember that what I say is something I shouldn’t take lightly. He’s looking at it seriously, considering my words worthwhile. And I should too.
Writers need to do that. Our words have power. More than once I have had my words recited back to me, which is a very eerie experience. When you write them, or speak them in front of a crowd, you don’t often think that much of them. But if you believe in God, as I do, there’s always the possibility that the Holy Spirit can speak through you and influence others. And that’s a sobering thought.
So here’s to all those who read my words and think that I have a channel to some greater wisdom out there. I don’t. I’m struggling just like everyone else. And here’s to those writers who continue to pursue the right words and ideas to share, and have good intentions behind those ideas. Let God lead your heads and hearts and pens and keyboards as you influence others.