Influence, it’s a concept that is very difficult to define or specifically measure. It’s a word we use to compare the relationship of our politicians with their citizens, how a husband and wife interact, or what impact an employee has on their fellow employees. The use of the word influence is a lot like the use of the word love, with its many contexts. It’s a word that can sound impressive and sincere but have no meaning.

The etymology of the word gives us some understanding of its original use, as an astrological term, defined by Webster’s Dictionary as, “an ethereal fluid held to flow from the stars and to affect the actions of humans.” Today, the word is most often used to describe the force of power or persuasion of an individual to move the heart or actions of someone else- whether for good or for evil. We currently live in a world dominated by a broadcast media and social media that attempt to influence how each of us think, particularly when it comes to the upcoming election. The broadcast media used to be more subtle in its attempt to influence the audience, but today you can tune into CNN and Fox as they cover the exact same event and get totally different outcomes. The networks seem to care little for the truth as they have abandoned their position of being a positive influence on the culture.

The Bible in Genesis 19 paints an interesting contrast, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are portrayed as cities that are so morally bankrupt and in decay that they are on the verge of destruction. The family of Lot is told to leave the city, and when Lot’s wife looks at the city she is turned into a pillar of salt, the very substance that preserves everything from decay.

Verse 26, “But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt."

Salt is essential to our body’s health and was key to preserving food before the modern age of refrigeration. Without salt nothing lives. Salt is not a flashy spice. You do not see it once it has been applied to food. It rarely calls attention to itself as a predominant flavor. It just supports and enhances the flavor. Salt is basic and yet essential. Without it, food is bland and tasteless. In recipes, salt serves all the other ingredients by coaxing out and enhancing their fullest expression and flavor. Salt influences our meals often in the background, not self-promoting, and it brings flavor as it helps preserve those who are exposed to its influence. Salt cleanses and heals, and without it decay and degradation ensue, for salt preserves and produces longevity.

The pages of 4Memphis magazine are full of salt - people and organizations working to heal and preserve the people of our city. The people in the pages of 4Memphis bring taste and joy to the culture of our city. They often labor and serve with little or no attention, while being underfunded to care for the needs of those they have been called to serve. They are seasoned with the salt of service, and their influence is not power of an elected office or shouting of the media, but what they bring to the city where they are planted. Salt must be mined or harvested so it can be delivered to those who need it to survive, and the salt of Memphis must be promoted, nurtured and supported so it can be delivered to all of us in the great city.

The salt of Memphis is the businesses that employ our citizens, the churches and synagogues that feed our spiritual needs, and the tremendous charitable community that serves all of the Mid-South.

One of the great frustrations of being publisher of 4Memphis during the pandemic is that the events that we normally support aren’t happening and the organizations that rely on these funds to support the needs of our community are struggling to maintain their support of a growing need. It is easy to see why this is such a problem, given that there is so much work that needs to be done in the best of normal times. We must help them be salt in the worst of times.

4Memphis challenges all of us to be salt in our community by ignoring the negative influence of the broadcast and social media, and instead reach out in compassion to all that God puts in your daily path. Elections and the leadership it brings will come and go, but our city and our neighbors will be here long after the Pandemic is gone.

Seek the Peace and Prosperity of Memphis.

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