If you were to ask an expert to define leadership, most would find a way to use the word “influence.” Influence is the power to affect the thoughts and actions of others. Who are the most powerful influencers you know? Are they business moguls, politicians, government officials, educators or pastors?

While all of these may well be major influencers in our society, I would suggest that the number one influencers are mothers. They are the ones who have the greatest opportunity to shape the character, direction and actions of others. As the poet wrote, “. . . the hand that rocks the cradle . . . rules the world.”

Mothers leave an indelible mark on our lives. As children and teens, we try to spurn the influence of our mothers. It is our natural move toward independence. Yet, it isn’t long into adulthood when we find ourselves sounding and acting like our mothers. Many a young woman has stated in horror, “Oh no! I sound just like my mother.” By the way, there are far worse things in life than mimicking the words and actions of our mothers.

I can think of no greater blessing than to have a godly mother who takes the time to teach, train and love her children. I am just as convinced that women can find no higher calling than motherhood. The opportunity to influence and shape the lives of their children cannot be matched-even for those women who head large corporations.

God has given mothers the remarkable gift and responsibility to shape our world one life at a time. The greatest tools for shaping children are the Word of God and prayer. There is no instruction manual so thorough and complete as the Bible. Rearing children according to God’s Word builds adults of strong character. Children who have been fed a steady diet of the truth of the Bible are prepared to face the world, be it friendly or hostile. They can stand against the forces of evil and accentuate the strength of that influence on others.

The greatest influence of all is prayer. When a mother influences from her knees she unleashes the power of Heaven on Earth. I can speak from personal experience. I am a product of a praying mother and grandmother. In unseen ways, my course has been influenced-even altered-by the prayers of these wonderful ladies. One day when I get to Heaven, the Lord will show me the times I was about to walk over a cliff, only to have been diverted by the prayers of my mom.

My own children have had the powerful influence of a godly praying mother. Of all the things Polla has done for them, none supersedes the unceasing and focused prayers she has sent as rockets toward Heaven. No blessing has been greater in their lives.

Mothers are the true influencers. I would suggest that while they rock the cradle, they breathe a prayer and read the Word to their children. It will change the course of history, and the world will be ruled by people of faith and good character. Happy Mothers Day!