“Power is a tool, influence is a skill; one is a fist, the other a fingertip.” Nancy Gibbs
The skill of carrying our influence is what I’d like to explore this month. When I asked someone on our team how they’d define influence, they said, “Influence is earned respect that demands listening to what a person says and how they live.”
I’d say they nailed it.
Sometimes, we give that respect to people who haven’t earned it. I know I have. Thankfully, the Lord has surrounded me with several key positive influencers as well. Rather than tell the stories of how negative influencers led me into trouble and positive influencers enhanced my life, I’d like to point out the main difference between the two—recognition of the influence they carried. They have been careful with their words, actions, and impact, while those who negatively influenced my life were not.
As we explore the influence we posses, we’d all be well served to consider the prayer of Solomon in Psalm 72.
“Give your love of justice to the king, O God, and righteousness to the king’s son. Help him judge your people in the right way; let the poor always be treated fairly.”
Solomon was entrusted with the care of Israel. Rather than seeing it as an opportunity to propel himself, he sought God for wisdom, grace, and courage. His main concern was to carry his influence in such a way that those most vulnerable under his care would be treated fairly, kindly, and with justice.
All of us have God-given influence, though we might not realize it. But there are people who watch us, emulate us, and hang on to our words. This will become increasingly true as we continue to follow Jesus. Perhaps that’s why Jesus said that those who follow Him will become light and salt in the world—two pictures of influence. One is a source of illumination and guidance; the other is a source of preservation and an enhancer of flavor. In a sense, Jesus was telling His followers that as they apply His words to their lives, they would grow in influence.
So here’s the question, how are we carrying the influence we’ve been given? May the Lord answer Solomon’s prayer in our lives. May He give us a love of justice, grace, truth, and wisdom to help us steward our influence well.