Shaping Hearts into His Image

Carol Kent

My decision to be more intentional l about how I influenced others was prompted by a personal milestone: another “decade marker” birthday. I had approached it with dread and apprehension, and I wanted this birthday to pass with little fanfare. However, my friends had other ideas.

On the evening of “the big day,” Gene and I were invited to the home of friends. Upon arriving, we settled in for a night of great conversation. Suddenly there was a knock at the back door and in marched a room full of friends, many of whom I hadn’t seen for a long time.

Carrying black balloons and gag surprises, they sang “Happy Birthday,” and the party began. Their gifts were insulting! Support hose, vitamins, fans for hot flashes, reading glasses, exercise videos, magazines for “retired folks,” suggestions for menopausal madness, and laxatives. Lots of laxatives! We laughed, ate cake, remembered old times, and enjoyed the safety and security of relationships that had been forged over time. The next day another gift arrived from a new friend, someone I had been mentoring by long distance. It was a book with these words inscribed inside the front cover: “Thank you for shaping my heart to His image.” The words pierced my heart.

Over the next few months I received several notes from women with questions about God, parenting challenges, relationship struggles, job changes, and ministry choices. Many of these letters were from women who longed for a mentor. With each letter I became more certain that God wanted me to devote the last half of my life to influencing young leaders who would carry His work on to future generations.

I could think of no better model to follow than Jesus, so I began to study His life and how He related to people. The Gospels tell us that Jesus poured His life into a few people, and in turn this small group impacted the world and all of history. We can’t read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John without coming across numerous examples of one-on-one encounters Jesus had with people – encounters that radically changed their lives.

One of my favorites is how Jesus interacted with Matthew, the tax-collector-turned-disciple. Jesus walked by Matthew’s booth one day while he was on duty. There he was: a capable money handler, a leader, a man of authority and power . . . someone who might have skimmed some of the profits off the top. But Jesus saw Matthew with different eyes. He saw who Matthew could become—one of His biographers! He saw weaknesses that could be turned into strengths. He envisioned a transformed lifestyle. A new passion. A tenacious loyalty. As Jesus passed by, He called to Matthew, “Follow me.” And Matthew did.

 As I studied the life of Christ, I wanted to know more so that I could follow His example of how to influence people in ways that would make a lasting difference. Once I had identified my purpose – studying how Jesus influenced lives, integrating those principles into my own life, and passing them on to the next generation—I experienced a freedom I hadn’t felt for a long time. Always busy “doing,” I often felt pulled in too many directions. I now had an outstanding reason to say, “No, I won’t be able to accept that invitation because I am convinced God wants the concentration of my energy in another direction.” It became easy to quickly and efficiently say yes to opportunities for ministry that were in line with my mission to evangelize, equip, encourage, and empower people to impact others with their God-given potential.

Article taken from Becoming a Woman of Influence THRiVE! Edition, by Carol Kent. Copyright  © 2002 NavPress Publishing. All rights reserved. To order copies of this study guide, visit the NavPress Publshing website. 

Carol Kent is a popular writer, highly requested speaker, and the president of Speak Up Speaker Services, a Christian speakers' bureau. With numerous books to her credit, she has also been published in a variety of magazines including Focus on the Family and Today’s Christian Woman. She is a coauthor of the Designed for Influence series of Bible studies for women and My Soul's Journey. Carol lives with her husband, Gene, in Port Huron, Michigan.



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