Sean McDowell | June 25, 2020

Be Grateful for Those Who Influenced You (Even Though They Are Flawed)

A dozen years ago I read a wonderful small book called Handoff, written by my friend Jeff Myers, which caused me to think deeply about the people to whom I owe debts of gratitude.

It got me thinking, “Have I taken the time to honor these people and to show them grace”? As Jeff points out, honor and grace are two sides of the same coin. Let me explain.

As I think about all the people who have influenced me positively, it becomes clear that they are all flawed in some fashion just as I am. Some are impatient. Some insecure. Some wrestle with anger. Some are too busy. And the reason for this is simple–they are all human.

Owing Debts to Others

And yet I owe each of them a huge debt for caring enough to meaningfully influence my life. As I first read through Handoff, I made a list of some lessons I learned from key influencers in my life. Here’s a few:

  • My dad taught me that God can use our brokenness for good if we are willing to trust him.
  • This coach taught me the importance of hard work, discipline, and how to respect my opponents.
  • This teacher taught me how to systematically take notes, study, and apply information beyond the classroom.
  • This mentor taught me how to trust God through my doubts.
  • This youth pastor taught me the power of compassion towards the less fortunate.

I would encourage you to do the same. Take a few moments and think about the people who have positively influenced you. What lessons did you learn from them? What did they teach you about life, relationships, or work? What did they teach you about what not to do?

These could be people you know personally or people you have read, watched, or followed. They could even be people from the past.

Give Honor and Grace

Honor them by being grateful for their influence on your life. And also give them grace for their flaws.

Personally, doing this small exercise (from time to time) helps me focus on the positive lessons I have learned from people rather than focusing on their flaws. It helps me develop a grateful heart.

My hope is that those coming after me will honor me for my influence on their lives and give me grace for my flaws.

"Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." (Romans 12:10)

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author, popular speaker, and part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell, TikTok, Instagram, and his blog: