The way people receive Jesus is to have been prepared by their contact with godly influences. That opens their hearts to the Lord.
You Are a Leader
This is the will of God for every Christian in this dispensation: to influence the world around them for Jesus Christ. When we walk out that will, we are going to be more blessed than we can be anywhere else.
Now, this has very little to do with whether you’re a plumber, a taxi driver, a stay-at-home mom, a doctor, or a lawyer. Your vocational calling isn’t your purpose in life. It is simply a tool you can use to expand the circle of influence God has opened to you and let other people know about the Lord. Everything you do should be centered around this awareness. Your greatest blessing, your greatest good, your greatest joy, and your greatest success in life come from letting others know about Jesus.
This is, in fact, what makes you a leader. Being able to influence the direction of another person’s life in a way that’s consistent with the direction you believe is what leadership is. Every Christian is called to be a leader.
Another truth you must embrace is that God wants to expand your circle of influence. The more influential you become, the more people you’re able to affect, the more quickly God’s plan is realized in the earth, and the more people are going to be brought into the kingdom of God.
If you think about this type of leadership from a purely spiritual standpoint, you’ll recognize that prayer is the first way we begin exercising influence in somebody else’s life. We pray for laborers and pray for God to break up the fallow ground of their hearts. Prayer is the foundation of exercising influence—but if we stop there, we’d be inappropriately addressing the issue. We need to also look at exercising influence from a natural standpoint too.
Scripturally, I think there are several levels of influence we can identify that God wants us to progress through. Let’s take a look at what they are.
1. Our Dispensational Calling
The first level of influence we all have is the dispensational call to share Jesus one-on-one as God gives us opportunity. Each one of you has relationships in place right now that enable you to speak into others’ lives to some degree.
The Bible says God promotes faithfulness, so as you are faithful to influence the people you know in a godly manner and orient them toward the will of God for their lives, God will promote you to the next level to expand your sphere of influence.
2. Positional Authority
Once you’ve been faithful to influence people you’re presently in relationship with, God will promote you to what is referred to as positional authority. This is simply a recognized position of authority.
Now you need to understand that in the secular work place, God isn’t the only one who is doing the promoting. Other people are getting promoted for perhaps what would be ungodly or wrong reasons. I’m talking about getting promoted by God. He will promote you to a place of positional authority. It could be as supervisor or manager on the job or a small group leader or a ministry head at church. You could get elected president of your garden club or bowling team. God will promote you through a variety of avenues.
What’s the Lord doing through this promotion? He’s expanding your circle of influence.
Many people never go any higher than this level because they see positional authority as the way they exercise influence. They say, “Okay, I’m the boss, so do what I say. I’m going to influence you because you have no choice.”
I came out of the military, which is 100% positional authority. Whoever has the rank, you do what he says. The most rank supposedly has the most influence—yet I learned early on that wasn’t true. A lot of high-ranking officers tried to use their position to influence the direction of their unit, but it didn’t work. People don’t follow authority figures any longer than they absolutely have to when it’s purely positional authority. The moment their leader’s back is turned, they’re doing their own thing.
If you try to influence by virtue of the position God has given you, you’re going to lose it and your circle of influence will not expand anymore.
So positional authority isn’t the reason you’re able to influence; it is simply an expansion of your circle of influence.
3. Relational Influence
Leadership is 100% relational, not positional. You need to learn how to exercise the kind of influence that makes people want to follow your lead.
Once you understand this, then God will expand your circle of influence once again. Underneath positional authority, people do what you say (only while you’re watching) because they have to. Under relational authority, people follow your lead not just because you have the position, but also because they want to.
Now you can’t stop here either. I know charismatic leaders who have done the right things relationally. People liked them and wanted to follow their lead, but turnover eventually came. Your circle of influence will stop growing unless there’s productivity. No matter how much somebody likes you, eventually they’re going to have to see that it’s productive to follow the direction you’re bringing to their lives. People want to see that goals are being met, fruit is being produced, objectives are being reached, and a difference is being made.
Everybody needs to be a part of something that is accomplishing the purpose of God. As people realize your influence has created productivity, more people are going to come and you’re going to be more influential than you were before. People will follow you because of your position, because you’re a relational leader, and because you’re producing a lot of fruit.
5. Others Are Growing Under You
The broadest you can take your circle of influence will come when people under you are being developed personally. The most people are going to be drawn to your influence when they realize that not only do you have the position, not only are you doing the right things relationally that make them want to follow your lead, not only are you producing fruit, but they’re seeing development in their own lives. They’re seeing that the gift of God in them is being developed and brought to a place where they can be effective in influencing the lives of others. They are being trained underneath your influence to personally accept more leadership responsibility.
Now, remember, these levels of influence that God wants us to work through applies to all of us. Don’t write this off as “I could never have that type of authority. I’m just a gopher at the office. I’m just this or I’m just that.” It doesn’t matter what your relationship description is. It could be social, ministry-related, in the workplace, wherever. God will expand your circle of influence as you’re faithful to develop the exercise and effectiveness of godly influence in your life.
by Mac Hammond