Be Known By…

by Rich Dixon on May 18, 2012

…what you’re for (not by what you’re against).

(This week I’m thinking about what I’d tell graduates at commencement. Previous thoughts: You’ll never love too much and When you’re not sure what to do, help someone.)

Today’s guidance: Be known by what you’re for (not by what you’re against).

Nobody wants to be a victim. Sometimes we pretend we’re victims, or even choose victim status, to avoid accountability, but you’re probably not actively seeking ways to be a better victim.

You don’t ever get complete control. That’s God’s job, so get over the illusion that you can control events or people. You can’t.

But you can develop influence. It’s a lot more subtle and long-term, but you can impact people and circumstances. Or you can choose to be a victim. Victims surrender influence.

There are three ways to influence what happens around you.

Consume. Other folks want your attention and your money, and they’ll do just about anything to get it. When you buy and use products and services, you encourage others to produce more of them. When you give your attention, you encourage others to do more of whatever you’re paying attention to.

Criticize. Your disapproval encourages others to do less of something, or to do it differently.

Consumers and critics can exert a certain amount of influence, but there an important “if”—these activities change things if others listen to and care about your choices and opinions. If you’re in the target audience or the right demographic, your consumer decisions might influence what’s produced. If you yell loudly enough or stand on the right platform, your criticism might cause someone to re-think.

Or maybe not, because consume and criticize are passive and reactionary. Someone else makes a choice, and you react. And if the other person doesn’t care about your response, you  have no influence. Here’s an extreme example.

I choose not to buy cocaine—nobody cares. I criticize those who produce and sell cocaine—no impact. As a consumer or critic I have absolutely no influence on cocaine production and distribution. Fortunately, there’s a third option.

Create. Creators stand for something.

Don’t criticize someone else’s idea. Develop a better one.

Don’t gripe about negative media coverage—while you continue to watch. Go out and do something that highlights and celebrates the abundant generosity and service in your community.

Don’t lament the lack of effective ministry in a particular area. Start your own, or get involved and improve what’s already happening.

Don’t tear down opponents. Create something so powerful, compelling, and attractive that your opponents will want to join.

Creating, building, standing for something—it’s hard work. It’s not a quick fix. It requires preparation, determination, and perseverance. And it requires ignoring the consumers and critics who will inevitably try to knock you off course.

Consumers and critics influence through motivation. They stand in the back and use money or power or fear in an attempt to coerce or force change and tell someone else what to do.

Creators lead. Creators show the way. They’re the risk-takers, the ones in front.

Be a creator. Be a builder.

Be known by what you’re for (not by what you’re against).

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Brenda MillerNo Gravatar May 18, 2012 at 5:03 am

Thanks so much for this, Rich! You truly inspired me today. I would much rather be a creator than a critic or a consumer, although I cannot help but be a consumer. Perhaps being a creative consumer is the best option, and I can be an encourager while I am consuming!

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Rich DixonNo Gravatar May 18, 2012 at 7:20 am

We’re all consumers and criticfs to some extent. The key is where you spend most of your time and effort and intentionally being a creator whenever possible.

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