Grant Teaff, the former head football coat at Baylor University tells an amusing true story about a hunting expedition he went on a few years ago. A farmer out in West Texas offered to let him and one of his assistants hunt on his property. Upon arrival, Coach Teaff asked his assistant to wait in the truck while he visited with the farmer for a few minutes. While expressing his gratitude to the farmer for the invitation, Teaff also remarked, "If we can ever do anything for you, just let me know."

"As a matter of fact," said the farmer, "I do need your help! If you notice, about 50 yards in front of where you parked your truck is an old mule. That old mule has been in our family for nearly 20 years, and, frankly, Coach Teaff, she has become just like a member of the family. Recently she contracted a disease, which is most painful and she needs to be put out of her misery. I just can't bring myself to do it, nor my wife. Since you have your hunting rifles, would be you willing to put our mule out of her misery?"

"Well, it seems the least I can do, considering you're being nice enough to let us hunt on your property," said the coach.

"Thanks. I sure appreciate it," replied the farmer.

As Coach Teaff started back to the truck, he got an idea. He opened the door of his truck with an angry scowl on his face. The assistant immediately noticed and asked, "What's wrong, coach?"

With obvious anger in his voice, the coach responded, "That old farmer infuriated me! Can you believe he said Baylor would never win another game while you and I coached there?"

"What?" was the incredulous reply.

"Not only that, but he said we were probably the worst coaching staff in the history of football!"
"But we were supposed to hunt on his property."

"Not only did he said to get off his property immediately, but if we don't, he is going to call the law on us!"

"I can't believe it," said the dumbfounded assistant.

"Yep. Makes me so mad," responded Coach Teaff, "I think I'll shoot his mule!"

"Oh, Coach, no! You talk about trouble with the law! We'll really be in trouble if you shoot his mule!"

"Trouble or not, I'm tired of people bad-mouthing Baylor… this is it!"

Trying hard to hide his ever-widening grin, Coach Teaff pulled his gun off the gun-rack, lined up the poor old mule to do her a great favor, and squeezed the trigger. BANG! The shot rang out.

As he turned to see the reaction of the assistant coach, BANG, BANG, two more shots rang out from the other side of the truck and the assistant coach shouted, "I got two of his cows. Now let's get out of here!"

No matter who we are in life, whether a senior officer, the lowest ranking private, or a civilian, we frequently fail to realize the impact we often have on other people. You never know how much your actions and character influences someone else, whether subordinates, peers, family members, or even superiors. As the Apostle Paul asserted in Romans 14:7, "No man lives unto himself, and no man dies to himself… (v.13) Take heed never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another."

The lesson here is simple: my lifestyle, the way I choose to live is affecting someone else. No man or woman is an island. You've touched someone else today, whether you know it or not.
Think about your own life. Who is it that God sent your way to model yourself after, to challenge you to change, to sake off that tendency to settle for less than your full potential, to stretch and pursue and conquer new territory you once never believed possible? All of us can name at least one individual, can't we?

Very briefly, I'd like to share with you four characteristics usually found in those who impact our lives.

1. Consistency -- These people are not flashes in the pan. Here today and gone tomorrow. Nor are they given to fads and gimmicks. They're reliable and unaffected by the fickle winds of change. They're consistent!

2. Authenticity -- People who impact others the most are real to the core. No amount of probing will reveal any hypocritical flaws. They're solid and genuine to the core, not some alloy covered over with a brittle layer of chrome.

3. Unselfishness -- Those who impact us most watch out for themselves the least. They notice our needs and reach out to help, honestly concerned about our welfare. You don't often hear them use the words "I," "me," "my" and "mine." They're unselfish.

4. Tirelessness -- With relentless determination they refuse to quit. They seem to press on regardless of the odds, ever focused on the goal and virtually unconcerned with the obstacles, they're resilient and persevering. They're tireless

As we are about to begin a new year, take stock of the way you impact the lives of others, and how you'd like to. As a start, apply the four principles I've just mentioned. After all, life is much more than doing something for other people, it's being something for them.