There are many ways to influence others for good. One of the most effective is simply to do good, and let it speak for itself. No fanfare necessary. There is something in human nature that makes us want to emulate that which we appreciate.
Over 20 years ago I read a story about Mr. Patterson, an area service station owner, and one of a large number of people who "adopted" an equal number of bus stops in their community and worked to keep them clean. Several, including Mr. Patterson, went a step further by landscaping their small plots with flowers, bushes and ground cover. His comment to the press was simply, "I like beauty. This is something I can give to my community." The beauty of the small area served, to among other things, help lessen the potential for trouble in the community, because, to quote Mr. Patterson again, "people are calmer and less likely to litter when they're in the presence of beauty."
It was that last comment that caught my attention. Generally speaking, people act better when their environment is cheerful and pleasant. Similarly, ugliness tends to breed ugliness. This is true in the physical, mental and spiritual realms. I like being around pleasant people! They help my outlook on life. A classmate of Carole's and mine, and a teacher at our Alma Mater, Harding University in Arkansas, usually made me want to be a better person when I was around him. I want to be able to affect others that way! I want to plant flowers while I'm alive, and help make the world a better place - don't you?
This is one of the most amazing things about the life of Jesus, and why so many people followed him wherever he went; he "went about doing good." (Acts 10:38) Some followed from ulterior motives, wanting only "the loaves." (John 6:26 ESV; be sure to refresh your memory of the story at the beginning of the chapter.)
But many more followed because of the words he spoke, the deeds he did, and the example he set of loving acceptance of the vilest of sinners who would sincerely turn to him. This influence is made all the more amazing by the fact that the hypocritical, the self-righteous and the self-centered of Jesus' day were turned off by his righteous life. Perhaps they couldn't stand the comparison!
Here, again, is human nature.
Many don't like the spotlight, perhaps because they feel they aren't beautiful! But we can be beautiful and spread beauty if we will simply seek to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, and allow him to help us make our world a more attractive place. In doing so, we will encourage others to plant some flowers of their own.
In 1918, William M. Golden wrote the well-known gospel song, "A Beautiful Life," or "Each Day I'll Do." The last verse says,
"While going down life's weary road,
I'll try to lift some trav'ler's load
I'll try to turn the night to day;
Make flowers bloom along the way."