On Tuesday I spent a fun and TOTALLY exhausting day speaking to six public high school classrooms about writing. The teacher called and invited me a couple of weeks ago after he noticed my niece, Heather, reading one of my books.
“What you reading?” the teacher had asked.
“One of my aunt’s books.”
“Yeah, she’s an author.”
“Does she live around here?”
“Yeah, in town.”
“Do you think she’d be willing to come in a speak to our classes?”
“Sure, I’ll ask.”
So, there I was talking to teens all day long about how I write, why I write, when I write … and their favorite question … answering about how much money I make. (They were highly disappointed to find out I wasn’t a millionaire, living in a big house, with fancy cars!)
This was just another object lesson I’ve had lately about a topic I’ve been thinking about … influence. About the people who take time to listen to my thoughts–through books, through blogs, through speaking and even in my everyday life. I have a voice, opinions and beliefs. I have something to say and–by gosh–there are people who really want to listen.
Before arriving in the high school classes the teacher had warned me. Many of the teens had respect issues. Many of them talked out of turn. Many had a lot of problems in their lives. Be prepared. I have to say that though standing in front of teens for all that time was tiring, they were great. They listened, they asked appropriate questions, and they truly seemed interested in what I had to say. Maybe it was because they knew I volunteered to take time out of my day to be there and share with them?
This morning a verse came to mind during my morning devotions, “Whatever you have done to the least of these, you have done to me,” Matthew 25:45. In our society teens could be considered the least of these. They look weird. They dress weird. They think differently. They have no respect for authority. Or so we believe. But hasn’t the same thing been said of every generation … including mine and yours?
Tuesday, between classes, I had a chance to sit down and chat with a multi-pierced girl. She was formerly from California, too. We talked about Montana, the weather, and about going to a new school. She was interesting and kind. If I had more time I would have enjoyed taking her out for coffee just to hear her heart.
That night, after all the classes were over, after I shuttled my daughter to guitar lessons/basketball practice, after I had touched base with my friend Kristen on the phone, and after I’d taken my 13-year-old Christmas shopping at the only place he could afford (The $1 Store), I was pushing my cart mindlessly through Target on my way to get milk (and something that I could throw into the oven for dinner) when a voice broke through my fog.
“Hi!” It was a teenage boy with a big wave. “Remember me? I met you at school today.”
I did remember him … a face in a classroom out of six classrooms, yet also a cool kid I’m sure I would also enjoy getting to know if I had a chance.
So, what did all of this have to do with anything? INFLUENCE … and taking the time to be one and give some.
You never know what difference you’ll make to a friendly boy, a multi-pierced girl, and everyone in between.
1 Corinthians 16:8 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.” … Or make it known at your local high school.