Who Has Most Influenced Your Walk with Jesus?

You know I’m all for conversation and debate, so today I’m posing one titillating, stirring, mind-bending (or, if I’m being honest, semi-mediocre) question for you to mull over and answer. Play nice. Be respectful. And most of all, be honest.

Who has most influenced your walk with the Lord? Go on. Lay your answers on me…

29 thoughts on “Who Has Most Influenced Your Walk with Jesus?”

  1. I can’t think of one particular person. I’ve had several major influences over the years, including:

    Brian McLaren
    Donald Miller
    Rachel Held Evans
    Karl Barth
    John Howard Yoder
    Brennan Manning
    My fiancee Amy
    Mother Teresa
    Leo Tolstoy
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

    There are probably others, but those are the main ones I can think of right now.

    1. Travis, nice list. I love that it ranges from Mother Teresa, to McLaren, to your fiance. I think that’s very much how it goes. God brings us different types of people through different points in our life to spur us on.

  2. Cue the eye rolls and heavy sighs-Jesus. I know , I know He is the topic of the question. I should be thinking outside the proverbial box. However, when I got serious about actually studying and following Jesus and stopped just taking someone’s word for it I found He was influencing me very much differently than I those other folks before.

    Louise Carlton. Again with the eyes. No one here will know her. She will never read this, because she is 82 years old and well she’s 82. This lady I have known since I was around 12. She very possibly is the most positive person on the planet earth. Her life was far from easy but she remains a synonym for joy. She will, today, pray for me and my family and probably tell someone about us. She will encourage a minimum of 5 people today and go to bed in an empty house, cause she likes her independence. She showed me what a well of joy could/should look like if Christ is at the center of it.

    BTW Louise is not related to me by blood she just says I’m her grandson.

    1. Ken, no eye-rolling necessary. Jesus can certainly influence your walk with Him. I think of so many Christians who attempt to follow Jesus, but never actually ask Him for His guidance, help, or wisdom. it’s actually an epidemic.

      Louise too, no eye-rolling. Very often, the most influential people in God’s Kingdom, and thus the lives of others, are the anonymous workers who are faithful to Him. What a treasure you must have in her.

  3. Wow…loaded question…

    I really think everything and everyone around me influences my walk with Jesus for better or worse…

    For Better obviously is my pastors…family…friends…
    Lately it’s been Bloggers like you and other’s i’ve gotten the privleage to become online friends.
    For worse is of course…myself…i am my own worst enemy. sucks…

  4. I like this question! It’s fun to think about. I would say:

    my parents
    Ed Young
    Beth Moore
    Gregg Matte
    Henri Nouwen
    my theology professors in college
    Paige Patterson (not in the way you might think)
    Brennan Manning
    Donald Miller
    Lauren Winner
    Matt Chandler
    my best friend, AJ

    1. Melanie, what a blessing that among all those listed you can include your parents. I’m envious of that fact and I don’t think enough of us can same the same thing.

      What’s the Paige Patterson thing? Now you’ve got me curious?

      1. I went to the seminary where Patterson is the president. His ultra-conservative views, instead of making me more conservative, actually had the opposite effect. After 2 1/2 years in seminary, I became more liberal than I ever had been before.

        I started asking questions about my faith and the way I practiced Christianity. God was gracious and led me to some great people, books, and communities that helped me understand that Christians can be open minded, accepting, and loving to ALL people. With no agenda other than showing love. Now I feel such freedom and joy in my relationship with Jesus and others. I am thankful that even though I did not like Patterson’s views, that they spurred me on to a place that I am now so happy to be in.

  5. Clarence Bartell, my grandfather the most Christian man I have ever met. He was not very religious, he never read Christian books or went to seminars or conferences. He just loved Jesus and every single person he came into contact with. I watched him love and sacrifice for people that didn’t know him and even family members that never liked him. There was a woman in his neighborhood that had to cancel the daily paper because she couldn’t afford it in retirement. For the next 10 years he would gingerly read his paper with his morning coffee and then go deliver it to her house. He did thousands of acts like this throughout his life and he did it all with a seamless grace that made it seem effortless. He did it all because of his overwhelming love of Jesus and he saw Jesus in everyone else.

    1. Tom, wow. Your account of your grandfather brought tears to my eyes. This is beautiful: “he did it all with a seamless grace that made it seem effortless.” {sigh} That is the real love of Chirst displayed. It is not in books or conferences or sermons or speeches, but in a person in love with Jesus loving others.

      Thank you for sharing about him. I’m looking forward to meeting him in heaven.

  6. Two guys I was attracted to in my undergrad and then grad school years had a definite impact through their personal walk with Jesus. The first one had an impact in the sense that he inspired me to seek the face of God for myself, and God used the second one to restore part of the identity I had in Him.

    Other influences include my parents and a counselor I had, also during undergrad (very formative years, those undergrad ones).

    1. Claire, I had a similar experience too, while an undergrad. Funny looking back, I knew this person had influence on me, but it wasn’t until years later that I realized how much. Those ungrad years really are formative, huh?

  7. Arlene Hammons, the lady who led me to Jesus when I was four, and was a consistent, caring, Godly influence on me as the children’s pastor of the church I attended from age 3-18. Even when I was “graduated” out of children’s ministry, we still had a lot of contact. I will always be grateful to her influence in my life.

    My former pastor, Brian Anderson, pastor of VCF North Phoenix. I started going there (double-timing my childhood church) when I was 16, and it was mind-blowing and REAL to me, and even though I haven’t been a part of that church for 17 years now (I went there from age 16-21), much of Brian’s teaching has remained.

    My current pastors, Dennis & Nancy Bourns. SELFLESS love and service, empowered by the Holy Spirit, with a true desire to produce fruitful, mature disciples who are having an impact on the world. I met them when I was 16, when they were “just” the parents of my high school friend, Holly. They were a solid, Godly family when my own family was completely dysfunctional. I would stay for weeks at a time in their home, and I had countless conversations with Nancy on their family room couch… she was counseling me and I never even knew it. :D Stealth-counseling. I absolutely credit any spiritual maturity and mental health to Dennis & Nancy’s influence in my life. I love them with all of my heart. I could easily cry, just thinking about how they have poured into me, with zero self-interest, in the last 20+ years.

    Kathy Beal (www.wisdomtown.com). I have gone from regarding her as mentor to being privileged to call her friend over the last nearly 18 years she has been in my life. Her pursuit of Jesus, her gentle but real Godliness, her humility before the Father, her humor and interests have all greatly influenced me, and I love her dearly. One of my favorite things in the world is spending time with her — any amount of time, in any setting, for any reason. I always leave her presence both refreshed and challenged, which is a rare combination.

    That’s pretty much it. There have been books I’ve read and appreciated, but relationship deeply matters to me. I can learn from a book, or from someone who has a peripheral presence in my life, but someone can’t really be an *INFLUENCE* to me unless I *LOVE* them, and they, me.

    1. “There have been books I’ve read and appreciated, but relationship deeply matters to me. I can learn from a book, or from someone who has a peripheral presence in my life, but someone can’t really be an *INFLUENCE* to me unless I *LOVE* them, and they, me.”

      Love it!

    2. Karen, I have to admit I am a little jealous of your awesome list of the people who have invested in you over the years. But, I can say that I am not surprised, as I count you to be one of the Godliest, most Spirit-led and filled women I know.

      I certainly learned a lot from Dennis and Nancy in my short time there, as well. And Kathy Beal, while I never got to know her well, had quite an impact on me. I agree, too, that relationships are most important. I could list authors, speakers, Bible teachers, but people living daily life with you and showing you how to look more like Jesus make all the difference.

  8. I have been encouraged by Brennan Manning, Beth Moore, John MacArthur, Greg Laurie, Mark Driscoll, Henry Blackaby, my local pastor Rich Hay, Anne Graham Lotz (and her father!), Kay Arthur, Joyce Meyer, Joni Earekson Tada, John and Stasi Eldredge, Jim Elliot, Donald Miller, Lee Strobel, Charles and Andy Stanley, Francis Chan, C.S. Lewis, John Piper, Alan Danielson, Robert Karn (my pastor in High School), Tony Dungy….and even Tebow!

    Most influential would have to be Jesus. I can’t remember a day when I wasn’t being drawn to Him. However, my youth pastor Jon Karn (back in the 80’s), gets the award for “This is what falling in love with Jesus looks like!”

    Love reading your stuff, Nicole!


    1. Susie, awesome list! You listed some of my faves, as well. Love too your youth pastor showing you what falling in love with Jesus is really like. So powerful and needed, especially at a young age.

  9. For me, I would say it would have to be definitely my grandma. She was the one who first lead me to the Lord as a young child. She spent countless summers with my sister and I helping us to memorize Scripture, telling us awesome adventurous stories from the Bible, and giving us her testimony. She was an awesome grandma, and I can’t wait until I see her in heaven again :-)

    How about you Nicole, are you going to share about who’s influenced you in the comments section or will you write a blog post about it? :-)

    1. Peter, oh man, I can just picture your grandmother making God come alive for you. So wonderful to have that experience as a child and then cherish those memories as an adult.

      As for me, well, I think I’m going to write a post about it, which I wasn’t planning on doing. However, as people began to respond, I realized that my answer is a little different and might actually need a post to explain, so yeah…

  10. Brian Farone.
    Rick Schmitz.
    Tim Guenther.
    Doug Scott.
    My dad.

    Not authors. Not even because some of them are pastors. Just real men who have invested in me. They discipled me and demonstrated the love of Jesus Christ to me personally and intimately. They didn’t just influence my walk, they’ve walked with me and ahead of me. I wish more believers had influences like these men.

    Also, I wish more people would say the Holy Spirit influences their walk. Not enough people are listening to what He has to say or yielding to what He wants to do in us. I know I can continue to learn more from Him.

    And yes, you Mrs. Cottrell have also influenced and inspired my walk. You make me want to follow and love Jesus more so that I can lead and love you better. Thank you.

  11. Jesus obviously. But of people I knew on Earth, my grandfather. He showed me how to live out a life of faith before I came to Christ and I didn’t realize he was doing until I found Christ later in life.

  12. One of the top on my list is Frank Viola. Also N.T Wright.

    Although not a direct influence, Brian Hardin (dailyaudiobible) for reading to us daily for the last 6 years.

    Greg Boyd, Shane Hips & Bruxy Cavey.

  13. A lot of People have influenced how I process the journey Don’t know the direct correlation of how that affects my Relaionship with Jesus. I like listening to the God Journey podcasts with Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings. Also I enjoy The Drew Marshall Show. I like connecting with real authentic Jesus people. I am tired of religion and what that parade has done to sour my relationship with my creator.

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