There have been times that I’ve mentioned a certain person as being influential in my life only to get a surprised reaction from my friend or colleague. The truth is that anyone who has an impact on you at any point in your life kind of sticks with you, even if you don’t always agree with everything they say from that point on. You might be surprised by the hodgepodge of influences I’ve had in my life, but let me share with you some of the reasons behind their place in my heart. Now, I’m not talking about the personal influences on me, I’m talking about people whose names you would know.

Max Lucado showed me that Jesus chose to die for me, though I didn’t deserve His love. (Awakening me to seek Him)

Greg Laurie helped me to see my need for Jesus and showed me how to respond. (And my life has never been the same)

Rick Warren helped me to see that God created me for a purpose. (Then I started getting involved in ministry)

Craig Groeschel helped me to see that learning about God doesn’t have to be boring. (Which led me to attend seminary)

John Piper helped me to see that my joy should be found in Jesus, not in seeking happiness.

Steven Furtick woke me up to the idea that my prayers were not really being prayed out of true faith that God can do all things.

Mark Driscoll helped me to see that it’s ALL about Jesus, from beginning to end.

Francis Chan guided me to see the Holy Spirit for who He really is (which is much, much more than I had ever thought).

David Platt called me to examine my own life and see if it aligns with what God wants for me (and in many cases it did not).

Tullian Tchividjian showed me God loves me perfectly in Jesus and nothing I do (or fail to do) can change His love for me.

J.D. Greear showed me that the gospel is not just the power for salvation, but the power to sustain me as I live life.

I could go on and on, but these are just a few influences that have led me to where I am today. I haven’t even gotten into the people outside of ministers who have had an impact on my life, but there are many. How about you? Who has helped shape you and your beliefs?