What is influence? John Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less.” Mr. Webster says influence is, “The capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others.” I would define it as, “The ability to change the course of someone’s future.”
The truth is that we are always influencing either for good or bad. As ministry leaders, people are looking and watching what we do and how we do it. Did your mom ever not let you play with someone because they were a bad influence? We all have people who influenced and shaped us, from the kids next door to our fourth grade teacher.
In Paul’s letter to Timothy he tells him he must be an influencer. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).
Here are some characteristics of people who are a Godly influence:
1. They CARE for others – 1 Peter 5:2 says, “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve.” People don’t care what you know until they know that you care. People that care for others give:
- Love – Before you can do anything in the lives of others, you must show them love. The length and breadth of our influence on others is directly related to the depth of our love for them
- Encouragement – Our words have great power. In fact, they hold the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:20). When we hear “You did a good job,” it makes us want to try even harder. We begin to believe in ourselves when those who have influence over us speak words of life.
- Time – Our most valuable resource is our time and when we give this it means the world.
2. They have INTEGRITY – In order to earn the right to speak into someone’s life we must be people of principle. A leader of integrity has:
- Character – You live what you preach and what is seen in public is congruent with the private.
- Authenticity – Not perfect, no leader is, but we use mistakes to teach others in a real and vulnerable way.
- Humility – Leaders must admit when they’re wrong. They also must not view themselves above others. Leaders with influence are able and willing to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.
- Trustworthiness – Let your yes be yes and your no be no.
We are only one bad decision away from losing all our credibility and influence for good. A lapse of integrity can do more damage and influence for evil than a lifetime of integrity can do for good. Let your life be one worth emulating.