Recently, our regular babysitter had to cancel because her son got sick, so we had to find another sitter at the last moment. After quickly changing our plans, I started to think about the ripple effect. One person’s actions have a ripple effect on so many people. Consider this pattern:

  • Our sitter’s son got sick.
  • Because he got sick, our sitter had to cancel with us.
  • Because she canceled with us, we had to find a new sitter.
  • Because we had to find a new sitter, someone else had to change their plans.
  • Because the new sitter had to change her plans, she wasn’t able to finish a project she had.

And so on.

The progression also goes backward. I have no idea why our sitter’s son got sick, but maybe he picked up a bug from someone else. So, hypothetically, it could have gone like this:

  • Our sitter’s son got sick because a friend shared a bug with him.
  • The friend had a bug because he picked it up at his grandma’s house.
  • He went to his grandma’s house because his dad had to go to a meeting.
  • His dad had to go to a meeting because …

And so on.

So, hypothetically, some dad had to go to a meeting and that prevented our new babysitter from finishing a project she had planned. That’s just one example—and I’m not even certain about some of it.

I’m sure you have felt the ripple effect in your life too. You know that the actions of other people influence your life, and that your actions influence the lives of others. Some things that affect us are beyond our control—like when someone gets sick and then they can’t help you. However, some things are within your control—like how you respond to this new situation.

I’m sure you have felt the ripple effect in your life too.

The ripple effect can be powerful. Sometimes it’s simply about adjusting our plans. Other times, it can be very negative. Consider the cases of abuse: A parent can mistreat their children, and then those children mistreat their children, and so on. It’s a vicious cycle.

Sometimes, though, the ripple effect can be quite positive. For example, as we soon begin the celebration of Pentecost, we find a great example of the ripple effect:

  • Jesus’ disciples were gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost.
  • Because they were there for Pentecost, they were there when the Holy Spirit came upon them.
  • Because the Holy Spirit came upon them, they could proclaim the gospel in a way that made sense to people from various backgrounds.
  • Because the gospel made sense to people from various backgrounds, those people could then take the good news back home and share it with others.
  • Because they shared it with others, the good news has come to us in our own day too.

Of course, the ripple effect has history too:

  • Jesus’ disciples were gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost.
  • They had gathered there because Jesus told them to wait there after his resurrection.
  • Jesus was resurrected because he died.
  • He died because he loves us ….

So, Jesus loves us, and that love rippled out through many people’s lives into our own lives today. It rippled out with the promise of the good news that is for all people in all times. Those ripples flowed throughout the ages and around the world. That is a potent ripple effect.

Jesus loves us, and that love rippled out through many people’s lives into our own lives today.

Sometimes we don’t realize what effect our actions have on the lives of other people—including those we don’t know and will never meet—like the hypothetical dad going to a meeting who affected the life of our new babysitter. However, since we know that our actions have an effect on the lives of others, we can influence many people’s lives.

Your reach extends far beyond what’s right around you. Because of that, I pray that your influence is empowered by the Holy Spirit—just like at that Pentecost way back when. You can share the love of Jesus with someone—and it will change their life and the lives of those they touch. What powerful ripples!

Kurt Lammi
Kurt Lammi serves as pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church on Dog Leg Road in Dayton, Ohio. He is also author of the book Bread for Beggars: An Anthology of Christian Poetry. He lives in Vandalia, Ohio, with his wife, daughter and fish.

Read more about: