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Oprah’s “Favorite Things” are back: How are you using your influence?

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.

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Oprah Winfrey during "Oprah's 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus" tour in New York.
FILE - This Feb. 8, 2020 file photo shows Oprah Winfrey during "Oprah's 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus" tour in New York. (Photo by Brad Barket/Invision/AP, File)

While Oprah Winfrey has faded from the public eye, to some extent, since her show concluded, her “Favorite Things” list has continued. 

Each year, she chooses items from a variety of categories and price ranges meant to highlight gifts that come with her stamp of approval. 

Inclusion on the list typically means a dramatic spike in sales and, perhaps just as importantly, exposure. 

For example, Emma Johnson was a student at Boston University when Oprah featured her keychains on the list in 2015 and 2016. The ensuing sales were enough to cover the entirety of her college education

This year’s list was recently released on Amazon with an emphasis on products from Black-owned or Black-led businesses

The hope is that these minority companies will receive a similar benefit from the extra attention. 

Whatever one may think of Oprah or the products on her annual list, she is undeniably an expert at wielding her influence in ways that can make a tangible difference in the lives of those she chooses to support. 

Fortunately, we don’t need an audience of multiplied millions to apply the same principle in our lives. 

What’s on your list?

God has positioned each of us to have some degree of influence on the world around us. How we steward that influence is one of the most important decisions we make on a daily basis. 

After all, the call to exercise that control over our surroundings was integral to the purpose for which we were created (Genesis 1:28–30). 

Unfortunately, most of us aren’t very good at consistently including God in that process. 

I fear most of us simply go through life either unaware or unconcerned with the degree to which we can make a real impact on our little slice of the culture by simply living intentionally for Christ. 

And it doesn’t have to take much. 

The thing about influence is that you exercise it constantly, whether you’re aware of it or not. 

So today, make it a point to ask the Lord to help you identify the areas of your life where you hold some degree of sway on the thoughts and opinions of others. Then use that power to further his kingdom and draw people to Jesus. 

God has gifted each of us with some degree of influence, whether it’s with friends, family, neighbors, or anyone else who happens to cross our path on a given day. 

How will you use yours today? 

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