Nov 282014 1 Response

Understand the Power of Your Presence

You have more influence than you realize.

Even when you don’t know what to say or do, you have influence.

We understand the power of presence in negative terms.

A police officer sitting on the side of the road can make even a slow driver hit their breaks.

A shadowy figure standing in the darkness outside a bedroom window would make anyone jump.

If Bono sat beside you on a plane, you would naturally get nervous.

It’s been twenty years since I graduated high school, but I still sit up a little straighter when my high school principal is around.

We know other people can influence us even without saying or doing anything. Just their physical presence changes how we think or act.

When I was in college, I played in a golf tournament in my hometown. In the first round, my dad came to watch me play. On the front nine I played horrible. He left. On the back nine I shot three under. As I shook hands with my playing partners, an older gentleman made a wise observation, He said, “Son, whenever you can play like that in front of your dad, you will be able to play like that in front of anyone.”

We understand the negative power of presence. Yet what we fail to remember is the positive power of presence. Just our physical presence can calm, encourage, and motivate. Even when we don’t know what to say or do. Even when we would rather avoid a situation. Even when we think we are useless. Just being present makes a difference.

When we don’t know what to do, one thing we can often do is simply show up.

Showing up is often more important than what we do after we show up.

It makes a difference in several areas:

Marriage. You must be physically and emotionally present in your marriage. It’s not just “the thought that counts.” Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what you are thinking if you are not physically present.

Parenting. Our kids need us. We don’t have to go to every game, but we better go to most of them. There is something powerful about just being in the house when our kids are home.

Church. There is a major difference between worshiping in a nearly empty room and a full room. Just the physical presence of others can drastically change an experience.

Community. It matters far more if we vote than how we vote. It matters if we show support for our cities and non-profits.

Physical presence makes a difference.

Knowing the power of presence makes the pastorate very difficult. I’m aware there are many situations and events in which my presence would be an encouragement to others, yet there are too many surgeries, weddings, funerals, trials, and other situations for me to attend each one. Knowing when to be present and when not to be present is one of the most difficult aspects of my job.

In my hometown, a group of citizens is trying to put an end to child abuse. One trend they noticed was how many of the accused were being found not guilty at trial or being charged with lesser crimes. One way they believed this could be changed was by showing prosecutors, judges, and juries that the public wanted these issues taken seriously.

A young teenager had been sexually abused for many years by a family member, but the family didn’t believe the boy. At the trial, the defendant had many people there in support of him, but the victim had no support. The trial ended in a deadlocked jury. Hearing about the lack of support, this group got volunteers to go support the victim at the re-trial. This time, the courtroom looked completely opposite. The victim’s side was completely full. Not surprisingly, the trial ended in a conviction.

Now whenever a victim lacks family or friends to support them, this group shows up to give them the support of the community. Just showing up changes the perception of everyone involved.

We are aware when physical presence influences us in a negative way, but every time we get nervous because of a boss or slow down because of a police officer or change our actions because of an authority figure, we should also consider how to use our physical presence to encourage others.

Just showing up will help our kids, spouses, communities, churches, and friends.



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