Preaching & Teaching

Three Things Every Christian With Influence Should Know

I want you to meet Obadiah. He has influence. He serves as King Ahab’s chief of staff. Remember that Ahab did more evil in the sight of God than all the kings who came before him (1 Kings 16:30). And Ahab was husband to Jezebel, who “cut off the prophets of the Lord” (1 Kings 18:4). She launched a campaign of persecution and terror against those who spoke the word of God publicly. This campaign was run from the palace.

Imagine the darkness of this palace with its evil king and its wicked queen. If you have a difficult boss, imagine what it would have been like to work for Ahab! If you find that your work puts you in the middle of difficult ethical decisions, imagine what that was like for Obadiah! 

My aim is to encourage every Christian who has been called by God to serve in a dark place. The Bible speaks to every circumstance of life and the surprising testimony of Obadiah will help you today. 

I want to especially encourage younger people, as you ask the question: “What is the best that I can do for my God?” Don’t shy away from positions of influence because they are difficult. God calls his people to be lights in very dark places.

Other Biblical Examples

God puts his people in places of influence for purposes of grace. You find this all through the Bible: 

Think about Joseph: God puts him at the right hand of Pharaoh in the court of Egypt—not a comfortable place for any believer. But through Joseph, food was supplied for the family of God. Who but God would have thought of that! 

Think about Esther: God put her in the court of King Ahasuerus. It’s hard to imagine the pressures this godly woman must have been under. But through her, God’s people would be delivered from a holocaust. 

Think about Daniel: God put him in the court of Nebuchadnezzar. Imagine how difficult that was! Yet it was all in the good purpose of God. 

If you are in this position of influence in your own life, here are three things you need to know: 

Expect to Be Troubled 

“In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33

In any career you will find yourself torn because you are in the world but not of it. This world is not your home. So you are serving where you do not belong in a system that will pass away. That will always cause tension.

When you feel pressure to withdraw from your profession because it’s a dark place, please remember—God calls Obadiah’s as well as Elijah’s. He puts his light in some dark places because that’s where it’s needed most. 

The best that Obadiah can do for his God is to stand firm and stay right where God had placed him, with all its difficulties, limitations, and questions of conscience that he experiences. 

The steadfastness of Obadiah is a great means of preserving the witness of God, and it’s a warning against Christian withdrawal from the world. 

Expect to Be Misunderstood 

It is fascinating to me that some writers take a very negative view of Obadiah. They think: Elijah is the hero, Ahab is the villain, and Obadiah is the compromiser. What use is a compromiser?

Some of you may feel the same way about Obadiah. But the Bible says nothing against him, so why should you? Scripture tells us that Obadiah “feared the Lord greatly” (1 Kings 18:3) that he took a great risk to save the lives of 100 prophets, and that he played an important role in bringing Ahab to Elijah. 

Obadiah was a godly man. He might have hoped for some encouragement from Elijah, whom he obviously revered. Perhaps Elijah would thank him for what he had done at great risk to his own life in saving the lives of the 100 prophets. But Elijah shows no warmth to him at all. There is no recognition that these men are on the same side. 

Some Christians have it in for anyone who is given a trusted position at a high level, whether it be in the world of business, politics, and increasingly in the church. 

If God calls you to be an inside influencer, expect to be misunderstood. When other Christians don’t understand your influence, remember you’re not accountable to them. You’re accountable to God. So don’t be surprised or discouraged. Don’t think, “Something must be wrong with me.” 

Trust God to Keep You 

As the Lord of hosts lives, I will surely show myself to him today. (1 Kings 18:14) 

Obadiah’s great fear is that when he brings Ahab back, Elijah will be long gone. Obadiah has to trust the Word of God, just like the widow of Zarephath, and God proves faithful to his Word. 

How could Obadiah survive in the spiritually stifling world of Ahab’s palace? God can keep you wherever he has placed you. Spurgeon says: 

 “Grace can live where you would never expect it to survive for one hour.” [1] 

That’s true in a secular university, as it is true in the world of business and politics. God protected the soul of this faithful man who served in the cesspool that was Ahab’s palace.

He can do the same for you. 

This article was adapted from Pastor Colin Smith’s sermon “Your Work Matters More Than You Think” in his series, The Surprising Influence of a Godly Life.


Colin Smith is senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church, a multi-campus church located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, and president of Unlocking the...

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