One thing every Christian leader has is influence. You would think every Christian leader would desire influence – but that is not always true. Most pastors, missionaries, and other ministry leaders desire influence to help achieve the goals of their calling and ministry. It could be influence to challenge followers of Christ to deepen their walk. It could be influence to move people to build a ministry that reaches others. It could be influence to grow a congregation in love and community or move them through a conflict.
All people have influence on others. All leaders have exponentially multiplied influence on others. For us Christian leaders there are several factors to keep in mind when it comes to our influence. First, is how we “do” influence. Is it Christ-like and God honoring? In other words, what are the ways we try to influence others? Is it in truth and love? Or is it with shame and anger? Do we lead others with peace and freedom, giving them the right to say no, or do we back them into a corner with guilt or with strings attached? Do we use our position to overpower those we want something from or do we lead from a place of humbling serving?
We also need to be aware of the direction we are leading others. What are we trying to accomplish? What are we trying to create? Again, is the goal God-honoring and for the Kingdom and for His people or is it self-serving? Some personal economic, political, or ego driven agenda? A self-preserving agenda? Or are you as a leader being influenced by God to then influence others?
Finally, the Christian leader needs to be aware of their own relationship with their influence. On the extremes are the leader who becomes power-hungry and controlling, totally enamored with their ability to “get things done.” They are more in love with their influence than with God and the Kingdom, more focused on maintaining power than following His will. On the other end of the spectrum are those who either believe they have no influence or run from it as much as they can. Usually because deep down they feel they are not worthy of it, not good enough (and they might fail and be exposed), or want to avoid the possible conflict of leading others. As Christian leaders one of the main responsibilities God has given us is the responsibility of influence. And since God has given it to us that would imply it is a gift. We are to receive it, be grateful for it, be protective of it, nurture it, continually bring the way of our influence and the goal of our influence into the light of Christ, and we are to use it. That is why God called us into leadership.