If you’ve ever decorated a Christmas tree, you’ve probably shared the frustration I experienced this week. After placing our tree in the stand and putting it in just the right place near our fireplace, I plugged in the lights. With the first initial flick of the switch, 2/3 of the tree lit up beautifully. The other third, a strip near the top and another near the bottom defiantly remained dark.

I knew finding the offending bulbs would be daunting. Despite having a little gadget that’s supposed to make it easier, I knew I shouldn’t underestimate the effort. Next to grouchy shoppers, defiant Christmas tree lights has to be one of the most frustrating parts of this time of year.

Branch by branch, bulb by bulb, I worked my way around our Christmas tree. After some time, I found the first bad bulb. Replacing it with a spare, the entire lower section of our tree lit up victoriously. I wish at the time of writing this that I could tell you I repeated the process and found the last offending bulb, but that hasn’t happened yet.

As I thought about our tree and my frustration, I was struck by the impact just one little bulb could have on the strand, or on the entire tree. It gives us a good visual reminder for our own lives.

  • One bulb can cause an entire strand to remain dark. Likewise, what we bring to the world around us leaves it a brighter place, or not. Do we bring hope, encouragement, and compassion to those we encounter? How do we impact our area of influence each day? When our alarm clock goes off in the morning and we’re plugged into a new day, will we do what it takes to have a positive impact on those around us, or will we share something else with those we encounter? How we impact the people in our lives is up to us each and every day. When we don’t do our part to encourage, be kind, and show compassion, we may unknowingly cause others to remain in the dark.
  • The impact of the bulb is what’s on the inside. Bad bulbs look ok from the outside. The Bible tells us that the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Mathew 7:16 says we will “know them by their fruits.” Are the people we’re connecting with, or looking to for leadership demonstrating these with their actions? Are we demonstrating them with ours? What do we need to change in our actions so that we are positively impacting those around us? We can reflect to see what we’re sharing and ask if it aligns with these character qualities. We may need to make a few adjustments.

It’s easy to forget how much we influence the world around us for the good or otherwise. This season as you see lights on trees and homes, may they serve as a reminder of the impact you have right where you are. I recently found a poem online that I want to leave you with. It’s called The Power of One.

One smile can start a friendship,
One laugh can conquer gloom,
One word can share hope,
One hand can lift a soul,
One life can make a difference,
My friend it’s up to you.

Have a great week! As always, I’d love to hear from you. Are you challenged by your lights or encouraged (or challenged) by the reminder of our impact on those around us? Comment and join the conversation.