You don’t have to be in charge in order to lead change. In the 1 Sam 14 story (our anchor in this series of posts about crafting a new mindset), Saul was in charge, but Jonathan was the one that lead the charge, and triggered the change. Jonathan used the influence that he had to bring about a change, while Saul wasted the influence he had by sitting around under a pomegranate tree…
Here are some truths about influence
- John Maxwell famously said “Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less.”
- Influence is something we all have and something we can all develop, no matter our role, position or title.
- We all have influence, and we can all be influenced.
- Influence takes a long time to build and a little time to lose.
I like to think of influence like a magnetic field that exerts a force on steel filings. While the magnet is brought close to the filings, they align themselves with the magnetic field. Now, if you remember this from school, the filings become magnetized themselves, and so in turn can “influence” other filings that are close to them – the effect is multiplied.
So it is with influence. When we allow others to influence us, we align ourselves with their thoughts, words and ideas. When we exert our influence on others, they align themselves with our thoughts, words and ideas. When it comes to a team, when everyone starts to align and “pull in the same direction”, influence is increased. The initial influencer may not be able to influence every single person on a team, but they can definitely influence those closest to them, who in turn can influence those closest to them, and so on.
We can influence by our words (or lack of words) action (or lack thereof), and even our body language and facial expressions. Who we are influenced by is a direct result of who (or what) we surround ourselves with, and who (or what) we choose to listen to.
In the story, I think Jonathan was influenced by God, and in turn used his influence over his armor bearer to charge into battle against the Philistines. Saul on the other hand, seemed to be influenced by what he could see – call it his insight – and used his influence over the army to do, well, nothing.
Influence is a powerful thing, and each of us has a responsibility to handle it wisely. For me, that means making sure that I am being influenced first and foremost by the Holy Spirit, and secondly be the wise, faith filled, lovers of God. It also means to recognize the influence I have over others, and use that to build them up, move them forward and help them become more like Christ (and not more like me).
Here are some questions to reflect on:
Who are you influencing? Who is in your world that you can influence? It may be your spouse, a friend, children, parents, co-workers. You may need to work on building your influence, and as you do that, it’s so important to recognize the difference between influence and manipulation – I’d say it like this: Influence in the sense I am talking about here is always for the benefit of others, while manipulation is for the benefit of yourself. When you focus on benefitting others, your influence will grow.
Is your influence making others more like you or more like Christ? There is a paradox I see in our culture: We want to be unique, yet when others are different to us we express disapproval… I think sometimes our influence subtly attempts to mold others to be more like ourselves – how prideful we can be! Rather our influence should be used to help others become more like Christ and move them forward in God’s plans and purposes.
Who (or what) is influencing you? Which voices are the loudest in your head? While every person’s voice has value, you don’t have to ascribe the same value to every voice. I told this to my daughter yesterday after a boy at school made a nasty comment about her freckles. Listen to the voices that value you; those are the most valuable voices. Someone once said “the loudest boos come from the cheapest seats”. So true.
Do those that you let influence you make you more insecure or more like Christ? Are the influencers in your life making you feel more insecure, or more authentic? Are they breaking you down, or building you up? Are they helping you move forward, or holding you back. Are they making you more like them, or more like Christ?
Leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts on influence?