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Time Magazine just published its annual edition featuring the 100 most influential people. Here is their criteria: “Our annual list of the 100 most influential people explores the intersection of accomplishment and renown.  As in years past, this year’s list includes Presidents and Prime Ministers, CEOs and celebrities—but they are joined by others of less fame but great force, in the power of their inventions, the scale of their ambitions the genius of their solutions to problems that no one before them could solve.”
I would observe that over the years I know, or have heard of, fewer and fewer people on the list.  I am educated learning about people unknown to me who are achieving great things in areas with which I am totally unfamiliar. 
For instance, Leila de Lima a Senator in the Philippines has risked her life by standing against Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.  Thelma Aldana, Attorney General of Guatemala is systematically dismantling corruption.  American artist, Kerry James Marshall, has championed the causes and contributions of African- Americans through his painting.
Some people included are making contributions that I consider more significant than others.  I think a person leading an effort to recover people buried in rubble from a bomb dropped in Syria, is making a more significant contribution than a fashion designer. But, that’s just me.

As I approach retirement, I have been reflecting on the influential people in my life.  In my sermon, last Sunday, I mentioned my college chaplain, colleague, friend and mentor Bill Hillegonds who was a powerful influence in my life.  My college football coach, Ray Smith, made me a better player, but more importantly a more committed disciple of Jesus.  High school teachers and coaches influenced me to want to become a teacher and a coach.  The Rev., Doctor Arthur De Kruyter, founding and Lead Pastor at Christ Church of Oak Brook when I was on their staff, was a great mentor for leadership, staffing, preaching and other pragmatic aspects of ministry. 
The list goes on and on.

But I am also influenced by people who don’t get much recognition. 

I am influenced and inspired by anyone who is a single parent.  I remember juggling our kids scheduled and activities which put physical and financial strain on our family.  I listen to couples say the same thing about their lives today.  Then, I think, “Can you imagine what it’s like to do that on your own?

I am influenced and inspired by people who have lost spouses at very young ages.  They grieve their loss and at the same time must pick the pieces and move on with life.

I am influenced and inspired by people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make others successful.  There are volunteers in our ministries;  stage hands in the theater and movie industry;  administrative assistants everywhere and at every level;  assistant coaches for professional and college sports teams who are hidden in the shadows of head coaches;   building maintenance staff; Teacher’s aides in schools;  Hospital nurses;  First responders; and   Therapists who listen empathetically to people and help them work through their issues. 

Who has been influential in your life?  Have you told them?

~ Rev