Why Influence Matters
This post was written by Mel Lawrenz
[This article is part of the "spiritual leadership today" study/discussion going on this year. For all articles in the series, click the Spiritual Influence tab at the top of the page. To have them delivered, subscribe to The Brook Letter]
What is exciting about the possibilities of spiritual influence is that it is about the issues that are at the essence of what it means to be human. It is about the issues that matter most in life.
1. Spiritual Influence Is About People
People are complicated and so the call to influence people for the good is complicated. We have to decide when to tell people what to do and when to teach them principles so they can figure out what to do. We have to figure out the goal or destiny of what we are aiming at. In an organization, the goal may be short-term and measurable. In spiritual leadership, the goal is helping people become more like Christ-far more difficult to measure, but also far more important than anything else. Spiritual leadership is thus an extension of discipleship. Influencing people toward become more like Christ leads to groups that have more spiritual character and organizations that have something like souls, not just objectives.
2. Spiritual Influence Is About Life
Spiritual influence is challenging because it is about life itself. All of life. People need help with their relationships, families, sins, addictions, jobs, money, health, dreams, disappointments, and so it goes. They need to have discipline when things are going well in life, and they need survival techniques when they are in the middle of storms. People want to know in whom they can believe, what they can expect in the future, and whether anyone cares for them-the big three questions of faith, hope, and love. We have the remarkable opportunity to help people flourish, to live that good life that God has defined as good-shalom. Grateful people will look back across the years and say to those who led them to live under God’s transforming influence, “Thank you. You made a huge difference in my life. What you said was a turning point for me; what you did brought God’s power to bear on my life.” Because spiritual influence is about life itself, whatever life messages we bring to people, we have to live that way ourselves. Like it or not we are models, even though the life we model is far from perfect. People watch how a leader handles criticism, works through crises, handles personal shortcomings, rises to an opportunity, descends to help someone hidden.Gone are the days when people are looking for leaders who look perfect. Many more people assume that when you find an influencer who is “the real deal,” that person has been through failure as well as success. People want to see perseverance in the face of pain and loss. They want to know how to get out of a bind, deal with discouragement, and conquer one’s inner demons.
3. Spiritual Influence Is About Priorities
In a world of infinite possibilities, we need deep spiritual insight to sort out the good from the bad, or between good, better, and best. Spending habits, media consumption, associations, commitments, entertainment, lifestyle decisions are all spiritual matters. God has something to say about it all. The question is whether we will understand how we can best guide people into the best spiritual decisions they can make.
4. Spiritual Influence Is About Values
All people spend their time and energies on the things they value the most. The question is, what are those values, how do values actually work out in a practical way in people’s lives? The same thing applies to organizations, which are just collections of people and reflect their own value systems. Spiritual influence and leadership is about helping people shape their basic values according to what God values. This is not terribly complicated. We need to value the important people in our lives and make time for them. We should value life-transformation in the people we influence. We should value the created world because Scripture makes it clear that God fashioned the universe as a way of displaying his glory and power. Spiritual vitality is to see all of God’s work, the visible and the invisible, as a display of his rambunctious nature. If our leadership is not based on values and does not impart values, the goals will be vacuous and the effects will be short-lived. Values-based leadership, on the other hand, is to pass on to people an entire perspective of life. But how does this actually work? How does an influencer reinforce values that can define the shape of people’s inner lives? The simple answer is word and deed. We can, and should, talk about values. But that has to be matched by action.
This entry was posted on Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 at 2:50 pm and is filed under Spiritual Influence.
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