Johnnie was the youngest and smallest member of a bunch of boys who hung out together. One day they were discussing what they should do next. After they had decided, Johnnie shouted, “Come on, let’s go!” He started running down the street. After a few steps, he turned around and saw the bigger boys standing there watching him. They weren’t following him at all! He had wanted to be a leader, but because there was no “followership,” there was no leadership. Was the problem that Johnnie lacked a title or a position to make him a leader? No. It was that he was unable to influence the rest of the boys to follow him.
To influence others as a Christian leader, you first need to be influenced by God. This starts with having a relationship with God and following His instructions for life. Building on this foundation, you begin to learn from people whom God has given to influence you: parents, teachers, pastors, and others. Many young people in the Bible were influenced by God and then influenced those in authority above them to bring about change in their situations. Therefore, the task of a Christian leader is not about making people follow you or your vision. Instead, the goal is to lead others to follow God and his purposes. A Christian leader is one who is influenced by God and then influences others to be become what God desires them to be.
To influence others, we need to develop the necessary practical and spiritual attributes. Paul’s advice to Timothy is helpful. He says, “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15 NLT).” This means working diligently to become a person of godly character and to develop life and ministry skills. This does not happen overnight, and it does not happen on its own. As we learn, we begin to serve and put into practice what we have learned. In this way, we influence people to follow our vision and our leadership.
What are you doing to develop yourself into a person of influence? Can you think of mentors who could help you?