“Please call me when you get Collins moved in and let’s have lunch?”
I wasn’t sure whether he was just being nice or if he really meant it. Loran was one of the sweetest men I ever met, or at least that was my first time impression of him when Collins made her recruiting visit to the University of Georgia. In fact, looking back, Loran Smith was probably one of the deciding factors in Collins’ decision to attend the University of Georgia. We were actually introduced to him through an email. We shared a mutual friend whose daughter had attended UGA. When our friend heard that UGA was in Collins top 3 schools, he introduced us to Loran via email. On Collins recruiting visit we visited with Loran in his impressive corner office of the Butts Mere athletic offices. He was kind, funny, a GREAT LISTENER, and had some great stories. Collins bonded with him after 5 minutes.
To speed things up, after moving Collins into UGA, we decided to make that call to Loran. He seemed to be a busy man but was so endearing, so we made the call. Realizing I was only in town that day, he dropped everything to meet for lunch. (At that point, we really didn’t have a clue WHO LORAN WAS!) We met for lunch and had a marvelous time and I felt really good about leaving our 17 year-old daughter at such a big school. Loran was indeed everything that our friend Brian said he was and more.
Collins is now a Junior at UGA, and we consider Loran a dear, dear friend. He and his wife, Myrna, have stayed in our home. We have had great fellowship with him and visited in his home. Met his children and grandchildren and enjoyed much laughter together. Seeing Loran at any time is like putting on the most comfortable slippers you have–warm, comfortable, relaxed and very familiar.
It wasn’t until recently while at the Clemson-UGA game, after knowing Loran for 3 years now, did I realize what kind of impact his life has profoundly made on others! He has had a VERY IMPACTFUL INFLUENCE ON THE LIVES OF COUNTLESS PEOPLE. He had asked Collins and I to help him meet Clemson fans and interview people on their tailgating traditions (he is writing a book on tailgating). We walked through the sea of orange sprinkled with red and black, and whenever a UGA fan spotted him, you would have thought we were walking with Jesus. HE was literally mobbed! This was really the first time in 3 years that we had been with Loran in this environment and the “LOVE AND AFFECTION” people had for him made a lasting impression on me! Loran is a writer and broadcaster and I realized his reach in the world has been extensive………very extensive. Loran Smith is a UNIQUE INFLUENCER!
Whether we like it or not we all have an influence on others thus, we are all “INFLUENCERS.” (some just may have a bigger sphere of influence i.e., more responsibility) How we influence others depends on us. Three things we have control over are HOW, WHAT and WHO we influence. Whether you are a follower or a leader, it doesn’t matter. Invariably, others will influence your life and you will influence others.
With Loran as an example, and he is in his 70’s, it is clear that his VALUE OF PEOPLE over the span of his life has given him great influence with others. His kindness and sincere genuine value of others has been far reaching. Another observation about him is his dedication to his writing and broadcasting, and the “unassuming fame” that he has generated hasn’t affected him one bit. He is such a normal and an unpretentious man.
Loran lives Luke 6:33, “Treat others the way you would want to be treated.” I believe this to be his greatest influence, having witnessed now on many occasions his treatment of friends and complete strangers. When you meet Loran, you walk away and have literally made a “NEW FRIEND!” I am so thankful Collins has had the opportunity to make a “best friend” of a man in his 70’s who has been a personal, up-close example of BEING A POSITIVE “INFLUENCER” and a life spent with great character and respectful treatment of others. I know now that God had that specific appointment for her and our family!
On the flip side, ever heard, “One bad apple spoils the whole bunch”? So true. It says in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be misled, BAD COMPANY CORRUPTS GOOD CHARACTER.” It doesn’t say maybe or somewhat, it says IT WILL!! Webster defines the word Corrupt (verb) as to destroy; to lower; to mar; to spoil; to infect; to taint. Unfortunately there is the choice to be an “influencer” who mars and spoils and infects other people with the bad. These people are selfish, out for their own gain. They can lie, manipulate, and simply mistreat others and don’t seem to care about the trail they leave behind.
In life I have observed there is an “attractiveness of bad character” to some people and that attractiveness MISLEADS MANY. It is sad to me, but it is true. What I have witnessed is the people who are drawn to these kinds of “INFLUENCERS” start to mirror who they esteem and keep company with. The old saying, “You lay with dogs you get up with flies.” On the “Back 9,” I continue to see this lived out on a daily basis by people. It makes me examine my own life and continually Mother our kids on who they surround themselves with. I love to point out people like, Loran, who are in their 70’s and have made good choices about who they surround themselves with, what they have dedicated themselves to and especially how they place a “HIGH VALUE ON OTHERS”. His daily life choices and daily behavior have summed up his life to be a “POSITIVE INFLUENCER.”
Make no mistake, the “SUM TOTAL OF YOUR DAILY CHOICES END UP BEING WHO YOU BECOME”. It is a choice and it takes a daily intentional self-analysis and honesty to know where you are headed. Show me a man’s friends (who you choose to follow, interact, socialize with, do business with, and even how you treat a stranger) and it will show you the MAN.