The sphere of our influence, our culture, is anywhere that our will has effect. Any place where we have the power to influence, to create change, to impact lives (and we all have places) we leave a cultural wake behind us: our dominion or kingdom. Our culture is the imprint our heart makes on the world, and you cannot change the imprint without changing the heart. As our hearts are renovated, what we leave in the world is reformed and the hope of a better day for all endures.
The core of a person's culture is their influence. This has often been relegate to the "leader's" domain, but every person has influence. Every person leaves imprints of themselves on other lives through interactions, opinions and actions. This collective effect is the combination of a million small turns made on the perspective of others: how they see us, how they see themselves, how they see the world. And whether we are trying to or not, we are shaping that point of view.
Our loves put us in conflict. Part of the culture we create around us is the public tension between that which we love the most and those who would oppose it. Sometimes that opposition, the fear of its power and that love it opposes are embodied in one and the same.
If influence is the small turns we put in people's paths with our living actions, legacy is the small turns we leave in our wake. This written (and often fictionalized) version of our lives stays around behind us everywhere we've been and everywhere we go. For some it is collected into a complete anthology due to their celebrity or perceived importance. For most it is left to the memories of the thousands who have held onto the millions of moments we had with them.
Over time our values, our passion projects, our pet causes become the stories we tell to call the world's attention. For some this is in small ways, for others it is overt and amplified, but everyone has a voice, the sound of their stories which resonates in the halls of the people who will listen. Because voice in inevitable, it falls to us and the work of human renovation to ensure we have something which is worth being heard.
The central tension of human existence--the war between our passions and our wounds--presents itself publicly in the front between our need to perform (image) and the presence of unconditional love (grace). Image is the face we are presenting to the world, carefully crafted to mitigate pain, escalate esteem and manage expectations. Our need for and dependence on image as a way of creating influence is entirely reciprocal to our understanding and experience of grace.
Environmental rights. Religious liberty. Credit for the family's success. Approval from strong women. Escape from pain. Ending human trafficking. Our causes come in all colors, sizes and substances. The easy ones to recognize come with ribbons and campaigns, but more subtle than that are the wars that we fight all our lives for the intangible demands we think we want or deserve. And sometimes the two are one in the same.