In The Secret Message of Jesus, author Brian McLaren tells a story that illustrates the long-term power of influence.

It began with a call he received one day from a man he didn’t know, saying he was the father of Scott Crabb.

Brian thought for a few moments and remembered Scott as a teenager he counseled at church camp years earlier, when Brian was still in college.

He said, “As I recall, I taught him to play four or five chords on the guitar — C, F, G, and A minor.”

“That’s why I’m calling,” Scott’s dad replied. “You told my son something else.”

Brian said, “I used to tell people if they really want to learn to play, buy a guitar but don’t ever put it in the case. Leave it out, and they’re more likely to pick it up and play it when they sit in front of the TV or whatever.”

Mr. Crabb said, “Yes, that’s what you said. And that’s exactly what Scott did. He went on to major in classical guitar in college. In fact, he received a master’s degree in guitar performance. During his studies, Master Segovia heard him play and invited him to be one of his last students.”

Brian writes…

A smile spread across my face. To think that a teenager I had helped become interested in guitar had gone on to become a student of the greatest classical guitarist ever!

Mr. Crabb ended the conversation saying, “Last week my son had his master recital. Master Segovia was there. As you can imagine, I was deeply proud, and I thought back over the years and remembered you. I decided to look you up and tell you that one of your students went far. You got Master Crabb started in his profession.” [Adapted from The Secret Message of Jesus by Brian McLaren, page 76]

The details we rarely discover…

The difference in Brian’s story and most of our stories is that Brian got the call; he heard the results of his work. Most often we don’t.

It’s great when we see people we’ve led to Christ enter the ministry, or we see them living successful lives, happily married, with strong families.

Typically, however, you don’t the get the update. You won’t know the full story of the power of influence you’ve had until you get to heaven.

On earth, it’s usually the last influential person in line that gets the credit. But God sees the whole process; he recognizes the role you play in the lives of others.

As Paul said…

The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. (2 Corinthians 3:8)

Today you’ll have the chance to be such an influence in the life of another. And even though you may never hear how the story ends, the difference will be made.

The seed you plant will grow.

The plant you water will grow.

The lives you touch, even in a small way, will be changed.