Earlier this month, my wife, Pam, and I visited Glacier National Park in Montana. Each day, as we prepared to go out and wander the trails of the park we had two top priorities in our preparation: 1) What food and drink would we need on the trail and where would we eat dinner when we were done, and 2) To not get eaten by a grizzly bear!

Whether Adam and Eve’s decision to attempt fulfillment through the pursuit of knowledge or our modern temptations toward finding life in work, sex, or material things, the sin nature works against God’s design for us. Jesus’ prayer in John 17:3 succinctly describes true life.

Jesus exposes the tendencies we have to choose a certain set of actions by which we justify ourselves before God, while at the same time, our inner lives, our hearts, are still far from God. For example, is it anger, or a little harmless name-calling? Really, what’s the big deal!?

One of my sons-in-law grew up in a town where he observed religious people acting one way on Sunday mornings, but completely different on Friday nights. If we’re honest, we all have blind spots and we often hold others to a different standard than we hold ourselves. The big difference rests in whether we are humbly open to God’s standards.

We live in a world that accuses followers of Christ of being hypocrites. Sometimes God’s people seem to treat His Word like an à la carte line, opting for the commands and precepts that suit  personal interests. Maybe it’s time for us to do a personal assessment?

There’s a noteworthy element of Jesus’ ministry that we can easily forget: His intended audience. Think about it.  The bulls-eye of His gaze and correction was almost wholly focused on the religious people—those who claimed to know the way, but remained far from the Kingdom.

I find that most of us read the Parable of the Two Sons in Luke 15 through the filter of years of tradition rather than good interpretation. The clincher of the story comes when Jesus tells the response of the older son to the father’s gracious receiving back of the younger brother! The main message? Missed grace!

God has called us to be influencers for the Kingdom in our neighborhoods, workplaces, and communities. We can each attest that it’s not always smooth sailing. When things get rough as followers of Christ, we have access to a precious commodity—hope.

If you want to be a leader and influencer in God’s work around you, consider these thought-provoking statements.

It’s not just pastors, missionaries, and super-Christians with fancy titles who have influence for the Kingdom. It’s everyday people like you and me.