How you can have more influence than JoJo Siwa

Written by Chris Elkins
Published on February 19, 2021

My wife and I were watching a game show the other day where the winning word was influencer

We weren’t sure how the contestant was going to get the celebrity to ever say that word. When the contestant started referring to social media and the internet as clues, I thought the celebrity would surely fail. 

Then the celebrity said, “Influencer.” 

We were surprised. Neither of us had heard the term used in reference to someone of influence on social media. 

Don’t you just love old people! 

12 million YouTube followers

When I asked Siri what an influencer was, she gave me a definition of an internet celebrity: “one who has acquired or developed their fame and notability through the internet.” While I am not an avid follower of social media, I thought I was reasonably up-to-date on terminology.

Then there was JoJo Siwa’s big announcement a few days ago. 

Once again, my wife and I looked at each other like deer in the headlights. 

JoJo Si-who? 

Apparently, we are further out of touch than we first thought. 

Seventeen-year-old JoJo Siwa was included on Time’s 2020 annual list of the hundred most influential people in the world. She has over 12 million YouTube followers. Even so, and even with teen and tween granddaughters in JoJo’s target demographic, I still had never heard of her.

Significantly, last week the young, bubbly personality announced that she is attracted to both sexes

How do I know this?

Because a friend with an eleven-year-old daughter, whom we’ll call Nicole, told me the following story.

“Do you know what you are?”

Nicole and her friend, both pre-teen girls, were walking home from school when the friend announced, “I’m bisexual and like both girls and boys.” The friend then asked Nicole, “Do you know what you are?” 

When Nicole shared this conversation with her parents, they knew this was a great time to speak openly, honestly, and biblically about sexuality. While they didn’t condemn her friend, they did explain that God’s word is clear about same-sex attraction. They discussed how to handle these kinds of conversations and explained that believing the Bible on this subject is critical to following Jesus in obedience. 

The next day, the girls discussed the JoJo Siwa announcement on their walk home. Nicole stated she couldn’t be supportive of JoJo’s decision because she believes the Bible. Her friend rolled her eyes in disbelief and basically said they couldn’t be friends anymore and walked off. 

Nicole cried. 

Nicole’s younger brother was walking with them and heard all this. Undoubtedly, he’s been influenced by all of this as well. 

Who’s influencing your kids? 

There’s that word: influence

Who are the influencers in our culture, particularly of our children and grandchildren? 

Even though I believe the parents in this situation did a great job, we all know that friends, social media personalities, musicians, and internet sensations are oftentimes significant influencers, if not primary influencers, of our kids. 

So, how do believers respond and become influencers themselves? 

Unfortunately, we see plenty of examples of vitriol, condemnation, and aggression from well-meaning people of faith about misguided values and unbiblical thinking, especially on social media platforms. 

Years ago, when I was battling an issue in my life, a wise friend and counselor said, “Feed the fires that you want to grow. Don’t spend much effort trying to stomp out the others.” 

In other words, be proactive rather than reactive. He was right. Spend your focus and effort strengthening the Holy Spirit in your life. After all, shouldn’t God be the most significant influencer for believers? 

3 guidelines for fueling your child’s faith

For Nicole and her family, trying to villainize JoJo or other influencers of whom we might disapprove would be counterproductive and likely make us appear harsh, unattractive, and narrow-minded. Somehow, believers have to be in the world, but not of it. And we have to teach our children and grandchildren that as well. 

So, how? 

Here are three guidelines for “feeding the fires” of faith and obedience rather than casting judgment on the evil around us. There are other guidelines, no doubt. This is just a start. 

1. Be consistent. 

You’re being watched, especially by younger ones in your life. They’re listening, too. They often have difficulty reconciling our negativity and inconsistency when we say or act one way on Sunday and behave differently on Monday. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). 

2. Be obedient. 

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). 

When young minds and hearts observe us flagrantly violating God’s word by gossiping, slandering, lying, cheating, stealing, or taking the Lord’s name in vain, they question the need for obedience. And if and when we are disobedient, do they also observe us seeking forgiveness and repentance? I hope so. 

Proverbs 22:6 is clear: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Of course, that doesn’t mean they won’t ever err. Our children won’t be perfect, but they need models of obedience. 

3. Be optimistic. 

In our internet-laced, constantly connected world, it’s easy to be swept into turmoil and judgmentalism. Everyone else seems to be doing it. But as believers we have been called out and set apart. Our faith should be joyful, constructive, sacrificial, and helpful in whatever sphere of influence we hold. 

The message Paul gave the Christians in Philippi is also for us today: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8–9, emphasis added). 

Choose to make a difference

As believers, we’re called to be influencers. 

Whether it’s in the family unit, the workplace, at school or in the marketplace, we can make a difference by being culture-changing Christians in our sphere of influence. The Lord calls us “salt and light” (Matthew 5:13). Both elements exert transforming influence unless they’re hidden or contained. 

I love Paul’s commendation of young Timothy in light of two of his influencers: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5). 

Don’t you just love old people! 

Live perfectly imperfect

Get daily emails with practical and spiritual advice geared towards helping you set aside perfect and grow into the parent you want to be every day.

Privacy Preference Center