Earlier I shared about the value of correction and instruction and how our lives are shaped by the things that we do and the people who influence us. Proverbs 1:8 in the NLT says “My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.” Correction and instruction don’t stop once we become adults or move out on our own. We receive instruction and correction all of our lives, whether we are aware it is taking place or not.
There are some significant things in each of our lives that shape us into the people we are. Sometimes we are instructed while other times we are corrected. Usually, we experience both in all of these places. Sometimes the instruction or correction is very obvious, intentional and direct, while other times the influences and shaping are subtle and unnoticeable. Whether direct or indirect, the impact cannot be ignored. That is why we must be intentional about the influences we allow into our lives. There are numerous influences for each of us, but most of them fall into four major groups.
Every single relationship we have shapes our lives. We are the sum of the five people whom we spend the most time with. Relationships significantly shape who we are. There are no neutral relationships. Every relationship either adds value to us or has a negative impact. This is not limited to close family relationships, but includes distant relationships as well. If we are not intentional about the relationships that we allow into our life, we will find ourselves being shaped in ways that may not be healthy.
Your vocation has a significant impact on who you become. The value the workplace places on you as a person will affect you as a person. The acquaintances you make while at your workplace influence you. The training you receive and the responsibilities you are given will affect your pathway in life. Even the type of career you choose has an impact on who you become because of the surroundings it provides and the perception of others about that field of work. Even the best career path may shape your life in ways you are not prepared for.
Hobbies are often built around the things we enjoy from camping and travel to golf, fishing or scrapbooking. They bring relationships into our life with people of similar interests that many times lead to lifetime friendships. Someone is bound to say I don’t have a hobby, even though I would suggest they are probably using a very narrow definition of hobby. However, not actively choosing a hobby shapes who you are.Our hobbies shape how we spend our time, who we spend it with and how we manage our finances. Every hobby requires a measure of instruction and correction. Correction and instruction shape us.
Entertainment may be the most bold and subtle form of influence we experience. We choose almost all of our entertainment but we are not always intentional about its influence on us. Often entertainment will shock us with major disruptions followed by a subtle nudge in a direction we were not expecting. We are often prepared for the major disruptions in our path, but we do not defend well against the subtle suggestions it may bring. Simple things such as product placement or more bold pushes about morality sometimes we miss because we are enamored with an artist or a story line. Music, books, television and movies all have a significant impact on the person we will become.
We can’t expect to accidentally arrive at the destination we desire. We must be intentional about everything we allow into our life because we are constantly being instructed and corrected and it is shaping who we are becoming. Not understanding these influences is dangerous to the outcome.
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