I read the Bible every night as a kid. My grandmother believed it would lead to good character, and she worked to instill solid values in me.
As I read the stories—Noah and the flood, Moses in Egypt, and David and Goliath—it wasn’t just character that formed, though I grew from what I read. It was a love of story that took shape. I asked for illustrated Bibles. I wanted a visual reference of every tale. As I saw the stories, I acted them out. I whipped rocks through the air using a homemade sling like David. I drove large sticks into the stream hoping to part the waters like Moses. Those Old Testament stories energized me, and it never got old.
My affinity for David grew as I read the Psalms. I learned to appreciate poetry and wrote my own poems. As an adult, the New Testament influenced my personal development. Jesus, a master storyteller, taught me how to reach with people using illustrations in a story. Many of my favorite motivational speakers—from John Maxwell to Eric Thomas—share this same influence.
I appreciate my grandmother sharing her primary influence with me. It’s something I do with my kids too. I share what I read, hear and watch with my kids. I want them to know what makes me tick. I want them to know what guides my life. How I'm influenced and who influences me affects them.
My grandmother died in 2012. Of her possessions, the one I asked for was her pink Women’s Study Bible. It has her underlines and highlights, and her notes etched in the margins. It smells like her cigarette smoke too. It helps me to know her mind even though she’s gone. I hope my kids will use the tools I give them. I hope they apply the lessons that I share with them. When I'm gone, I hope they allow me to speak to them through my journals. That's the influence I received and one I want to pass on.