Stewards of Our SpheresSpheres
This is for you in spheres of influence: unmatched, unparalleled, irreplicable. Your sphere is uniquely yours. Like an epicenter of an earth-quaking movement with your actions, words, works, art, impressions, image, and heart emitting outward from you rumbling everything in their reach. Since you are entirely and utterly unique, your sphere is, too.
I became interested in spheres of influence in 2013 when I encountered an organization with the mission to “encourage people to lead and impact in every sphere of life” . The idea that we all live and operate in spheres was particularly inspiring for me as I felt like my life was the overlap of many different worlds, converging into a world of my own. I have started this blog to explore and discuss the spheres of influence we all operate in. My posts will be built primarily on my own experiences, but I have high hopes that this will turn into a space where others can share their stories, as well. So, for this inaugural post, I thought I would begin with a few definitions of what spheres of influence and spheres themselves actually are.
From a socio-political perspective, a sphere of influence is a “territorial area within which the political influence or the interests of one nation are held to be more or less paramount [incredibly important]” . Picture Queen Elizabeth II traversing the Commonwealth of Nations. This is an example of someone operating within her sphere of influence, which so happens to be a collection of countries who honor her as a figurehead in their nations. Likewise, your sphere of influence is an area, a domain, a field, or space where your voice is heard; a place where you matter.
Aside from politics, spheres are dominant shapes in science and math. The earth, moon, and sun are a few of the of the most famous spherical objects known to man. A quick search on Google will show that atoms (the building blocks of matter) and cells (the building blocks of life) are also conceptualized as spheres or sphere-like objects. Seeing as how the sphere is such a fundamental shape in our understanding of the universe, it is not surprising that we have extended it to model human influence.
My high school geometry teacher taught me that a sphere is a three-dimensional object with a center point and radius that expands equally in all directions. Extending this geometrical definition to the concept of a sphere of influence, you are the center point of your sphere of influence. Similarly, the length of your reach is the radius of your sphere of influence.
In the mind of a geometrician, the term sphere of influence might inspire the calculation of a sphere’s volume (size) or surface area. The calculation of the volume and surface area of a sphere is directly dependent on the radius of the sphere. In fact, the volume and surface area are exponentially related to the radius of a sphere. This means that as the sphere’s radius grows by one unit, the sphere’s volume and surface area grow immensely more. I cannot but help to relate these mathematical relationships to my understanding of spheres of influence.
Imagine calculating the volume and surface area of your sphere of influence. Imagine walking the edges of your hometown, workplace, sports clubs, friend groups, and measuring every life impacted, every process improved, every work of art created, every business started, everything impacted by your life. One could say that you would have had quite an impact, right? It would seem as if the size of your sphere of influence was exponentially related to the length of your reach. Perhaps we underestimate the total impact of our lives in our spheres because we measure ourselves by the length of our reach rather than by the volume or area of our impact.
The length of your reach may feel small, but I can assure you that the volume of your impact is far greater than you realize. In a letter to the early church in the city of Corinth, the Apostle Paul exhorts the community to quit confining their affections (limiting themselves). He urges them to open wide their hearts and their lives . Regardless of what you might think of yourself, you have a life capable of reaching those around you and a sphere of influence that belongs to you alone. Whether you are the leader of a successful company in the pressure of the public eye or a bullied high school student feeling like no one could be more overlooked, there are people watching you, looking to you and your life as an example. You matter.
What does your sphere look like? Who are the people in it? What are its dimensions, textures, attitudes? Does it involve an activity, a passion, or a cause?
For me, my most obvious sphere of influence includes the people I am in contact with the most: my colleagues, close friends, and family. Beyond this, I know my sphere includes my place of work, my industry, my school, and other places I am present, actively listening, and being listened to. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to watch my sphere expand as I have come into contact with new people, cultures, and ideas. It is as if the arcs on my sphere’s surface have slowly enveloped cities, academic communities, manufacturing companies, and beloved Christian fellowships on the American west coast and in Scandinavia. I can say with certainty that growing my sphere of influence has added richness, diversity, and adventure to my life. This process has been so rewarding that I am now committed to continuing to grow my sphere each day.
My final question for you is what can you do to lead and impact in your sphere today? To lead and to impact are big actions. They signify purpose and living life in a big way. I am a firm believer that we are not meant to be dormant actors within our spheres. Rather, we should use everything within our reach to be purposeful stewards of our spheres for the betterment of those around us. A sphere is a gift. Steward it well.