Little Things with Great Influence

Little Things with Great Influence December 28, 2023

Practical Spirituality series

I prepare coffee for my wife. I finally got off probation after 50 years of making her coffee in our marriage. She claims that if I wear my shoes to bed, it’s the end of everything.

Is it possible that women, as depicted in the Epic of Gilgamesh, have the power to domesticate men and bring about impressive change? The ancient Greek play, Lysistrata, similarly shows the power of women to get their men to stop waging war. I wrote a novel, Woman Tames Cretin, using this same theme for Generation Z and Millennial audiences.

It’s usually not the big things that make change in our world, but the small things. Discussing things over a cup of coffee is notoriously helpful in resolving issues.

The Spirit of God is an undetectable thing, but has great power. Jesus said about being born of the Spirit: “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” – John 3:8

Image: Pilotus Plant Seeds by Dalle AI
Image: Pilotus Plant Seeds by Dalle AI

A gentle breeze is all that’s required to blow the tiny Pilotus plant seeds to a new home. As a child I used to love blowing dandelion and milkweed seeds. My neighbors didn’t appreciate it.

Women have this amazing power to influence husbands. It’s called gentle persuasion. But for my wife, a simple cup of coffee is a small gesture that works. Little things mean a lot.

Use of force

We commonly think that force is the way to change people. Knock some sense into them. We threaten them with hell, fire, isolation, prison, restrictions, removing things from them, and all kinds of threats. Force doesn’t work or gets negative repercussions.

I often compare using force on people to pushing a rope. You can push on a rope, but it just goes in all directions or just lays there. But if you pull on a rope the rope will trail along right behind you. People are the same. You don’t know how they will react when you use force. Force commonly backfires.

The police traditionally use the theory of “escalation of force.” When they encounter someone suspected of wrongdoing. The escalation of force theory says that if the person reacts negatively or fails to follow commands, then they should use more force. Soon they’re shooting at each other.

The newer theory for police is “de-escalation.” Instead of force, be respectful but authoritative. This gets a much better result even if it sometimes fails.

People respond in a reciprocal manner. Whatever you put out there, expect a similar response.

Dropping bombs on people is the worst way ever to change their thinking

We used to know that our teenage daughter would sit down because it was required, but on the inside she was still standing up. Obedience doesn’t necessarily mean change.

Sometimes you can’t even get obedience. A favorite story of mine came from a pastor who had a rural background like mine. He told of a mule that they couldn’t get to move. I could relate because we once tried to get a cow to walk to a different property. She wouldn’t step foot off our familiar farm. After exhausting every non-harmful method, we finally let the cow stay in the barn.

Anyway, the farmer tried everything to get the stubborn mule to move. The mule wouldn’t budge. Finally, he lit a small fire under it. The mule decided on his own that it was time to move. The moral: Pushing, kicking, and screaming don’t work, but a little warmth can encourage the right decision.

Loud voices don’t communicate well. The Prophet Elijah was told to go stand on a mountain before God. A strong wind came but God wasn’t in it. An earthquake happened, but neither was God in it, nor was God in the fire that followed the quake. But then came a gentle breeze, and Elijah heard God in the gentle wind. The still small voice gets the most attention. God doesn’t have to shout to be heard.

A little trick to get attention is to whisper. People strain to hear what you’re saying.

Many times I’ve needed to change attitudes in people who didn’t want them changed. Forcing people to change their attitude is a daunting task that often backfires. They may do what you want, but then undermine you.

Some might intentionally do things poorly or even wrong to ensure your failure. They may agree to do what you want and then just do nothing. There are many ways they can make pushing them backfire. I’ve seen these happen and seen the misery that follows.

I won’t get into how to create attitude change, but one principle always has to stand. It has to be their decision, not the result of force. They need to take ownership of it, not just get dragged along. If they own it, they are more likely to make it work.

God works within us so that we want to make it work

Jesus came as an infant with the message of goodwill toward others. Infants have no physical power. But we all love puppies, kittens, and babies and want to love and protect them. They touch our heart.

God loves to emphasize the small and even ethereal things in life that completely change us. Jesus said that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains. We don’t see people physically moving mountains, so we understand Jesus’ saying as something without physical substance, like changing the world of people.

For example, words have no physical substance, but they have high impact on people in both positive and negative ways. And love isn’t something you can put your finger on, but it may be the most powerful force in the universe. Love transforms people. Love transforms hate.

God works within us. Not with a hammer, but with spiritual influence. The spiritual provides ideas that compel us to act differently. If we’re open to doing things the way God has shown us, then we all respond to the God that is in all the universe, including in us. The spirit compels us. It guides and makes us desire to do things in a better way.

From my book, New Generations Walk with Jesus:

“‘It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days .…’” Joel 2:29 (NASB).

The Apostle John said about Joel’s comment: “He was speaking about the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive. For the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.” John 7:39 (BSB)

Jesus said, in Luke 17: 20, 21 (NIV), “Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.’” Or the kingdom of God is within you, it’s spiritual.

The Law is written in our hearts, and the Kingdom of God is now and forever. We enter the kingdom now by accepting God’s forgiveness, and through following the way of life Jesus showed us. We have this innate sense of our actions being good or bad for ourselves or others. We don’t need a list of laws or rules to tell us. All we need is love.”

We shouldn’t mistake the spirit or the law for the Jewish law. We’re not Jews and all things are “legal” for us. Love replaces the law and we understand when we’re hurting others. Love is the most powerful little thing.

Little things get big results

In 2024, let’s try harder to influence people without force. If we do this over and over, we’ll get very skilled at it.

For inspiration, we can make a difference at any age, whether in grade school or in our nineties. Read the Stories of 40 Incredible Kids Who Have Changed the World.(Good Housekeeping, online.)

Probability Space

The time is always right, always pregnant with possibility, so that we can influence people for the better. How can we do this? Think of one thing that we can do in a positive way that influences people. If we all did this spiritually very practical thing, would we make the world better?

  • Dorian

Our answer is God. God’s answer is us. Together we make the world better.

About Dorian Scott Cole
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