Impact and Influence

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Have you ever heard someone say, “I can do what I like, it’s my life!” The reality of these words is partly true, yet, the impact of our decisions ultimately affects others. Whether we acknowledge, thrive on or hardly recognise this reality, simply put —our life impacts others. However, the degree and direction of impact depend on us.

 My husband, Gary, and I have worked and served in the non-profit, community sector for the past 27 years here in England. We’re both from the USA, southern-born, having met here in the UK, expatriates and together have raised four kids who are now adults.  How easy it is to think, “We’re empty-nesters have given out plenty, let’s retire and relax.”  While that was in the forefront of my thinking, two years ago what I saw changed my perspective.

 We had just finished a week of training pastors and leaders in Ntungamo, Uganda and were heading back to our accommodation. I saw three women working in a field, in the heat of the day, each carrying a baby on their back. How’s that for multitasking!

 I asked our driver if we could stop. As the 4×4 came to a halt, I jumped out waved and smiled. The women immediately made their way over to us. As they crossed the field, my heart sank as I couldn’t believe my eyes. Each one walked across the ground covered in thistles, briars and rocks. Most of all what struck me … they were barefoot. 

 It’s one of those times in your life …

 “What you see, you can’t unsee!”

 The next day as we made the 7-hour drive back from Ntungamo to Kampala, a thought went through my mind: If this is a problem, let me see it more. And I began counting the number of people I could see without shoes. In less than an hour, I had counted over 200. My western mindset couldn’t believe something so basic, so many were without. But here is the clincher … almost every person without shoes was either a woman or child. Something in my heart changed; I knew I wanted to help bring a shift in cultural thinking: Women and children matter.

 In June this year, we launched ‘I GOT SHOES’, a UK-based charity, with our work focused in Uganda.  What is our mandate? Providing a child with one pair of shoes is a stepping stone into education, begins to break the cycle of poverty and improves the health of a generation. Every child should have the right to education and to live with dignity and security.

 One of the most beautiful gifts of stepping out and saying, ‘YES’ is influence.Written on a chalkboard in my office is this phrase:  ‘I am called as an influencer — I forbid doubt to get in’. A statement worth repeating out loud to speak daily over oneself. 

 If you’re like me, when I first wake, many thoughts emerge each vying for my immediate attention. What would your starting point, strategy for the day look like if the above phrase was one you held on to? One of the most challenging dynamics of leadership is belief. Vision drives your charity, organisation, or life. Believing when we are called to do something, the means and resources will come through. 

 Who in their right mind starts a charity during a pandemic? When will I ever have as much consolidated time to begin? Thankfully, I believed the later statement. Belief comes with action. So ask yourself, what dreams are still in your heart? What steps could you take to simply begin?  Am I willing to take a risk for the one?

What then transpires is from small steps to next steps … momentum is built. And at this point, your heading towards your destination — fulfilling the dreams placed in your heart!

 Lead from a place of wholeness.

Lead from belief.

Lead knowing your life can unequivocally impact others.

 Changing lives, not just for today but for their future.

Written by Penny Seithel who is a passionate follower and lover of Jesus. Wife to Gary, Mom to four fantastic adult kids & spouses, and LuLu to 2 grandchildren and 1 on the way! She believes in empowering and releasing leaders through teaching, mentoring, and has led the women’s ministry for the past 7 years at Skylark Church, Chelmsford. She is co-founder of ‘I GOT SHOES’ charity. Her ethos: “I can’t think of anything more fulfilling than joining with His work and heart for the beautiful people of Uganda. I don’t mind asking, and I don’t mind hearing no’s, or not now. Because I know that when He sets the vision, the provision and plan is already there”.