The following are my notes from the past weekend’s teaching at Grace Community Church, “Elevate Your Influence.” Notes are for personal use only. For permission contact firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2012, Terry Broadwater
Did Jesus have influence? How has influence affected the world, you? Jesus has had so much influence that time is divided by his birth. There are 2.1 billion Christians in the world. There has been no more debatable, influential person in history that Jesus Christ!
How you can elevate your influence! Those are two extreme and obvious examples of influence. But we all have the capacity to influence and be influenced. Think about how your life has been impacted, changed, shaped by others and how you’ve influenced people through how you think, believe, or act??
What is “influence?” From the Latin, “influere”- to flow into. Influence is the ability to alter or sway an individual’s or a group’s thoughts, beliefs, or wactions. In essence, influence is the most powerful factor that causes humans to change.
Influence moves people in a new direction!
Biblically, influence is defined here: Matt. 5:13-16. Essentially, as a Christ-follower, Jesus says that we should be influencing our world as we bring “salt”- preservation, and “light”- purpose, to people’s lives. Through our acts of kindness, mercy, grace, compassion, people are influenced to become worshippers of God
Influence is how we change the way people think, what they believe, and how they act when it comes to Christ and the church!
One of, if not the most powerful ways GCC will fulfill our mission and impact our mission field for Christ, will be through each person’s INFLUENCE! So, we need to think about how we can elevate our influence in 2012! You don’t have to be Tim Tebow or some other person with a major platform- let me show you how you can be a person of powerful influence through a great example from the Bible.
Read 1 Samuel 14:1-15. We were created by God to influence and be influenced.This story about Jonathon and his armor-bearer reveals that we all have the capacity to influence and to be influenced. Influence is how we are changed and how we bring about change in others in situations we find ourselves in! And the ability to influence is connected strongly to our relational and emotional abilities.
The fact is, we can be influenced for bad or good and we can influence others for bad or good! Influence is very powerful and in 2012 you, me, GCC, needs to respect, but also capitalize on just how powerful and life-changing influence is! Think about how your life has been influenced by Tim Tebow… by Jesus… by the church… by the family you grew up in…. the people you’re always around… You need to elevate how you will be influenced, and how you will influence in 2012!
We live in a world that can be incredibly frustrating. If you look closely around you, you can see many things that need to be fixed – dozens of things that can be improved and often we feel powerless in our ability to bring positive influence and change to the world around us because we don’t think we’re in a position to do so.
That powerless feeling is more prevalent now than ever before. Especially in our work lives, this is true. Whether it is a boss who won’t listen, or a manager who doesn’t have a clue, or a foggy job description, or a career you feel locked into like a prisoner, or a management team who doesn’t value your input or contribution. We feel powerless and we waste our 40-50 hours every week wishing we could make a difference. We feel powerless to live lives of influence and change – because we think we’re not in a position of power or authority to do so. We see this in other areas of life- marriage, family, church!! We think that if we just have the position or the power or the authority, we can change things.
Here’s what I’m saying and here’s what this story about Jonathon and his armor-bearer lets us all know: Your capacity to influence has nothing to do with position or power! Can that help, yes, but it’s not necessary to be a person of “salt and light” influence! As a matter of fact, if you want to truly be a person of this kind of positive and good influence, then you’re going to have to fight the desire for position and power! In 2012, you’re going to have to appreciate what it means to truly elevate your life and elevate the lives of others simply through influence in the way that God intended it!
3 simple truths about influence from 1 Sam.14…
UNDERSTAND YOUR SPHERE OF INFLUENCE AND BE A LEADER
A couple key points here about Jonathon’s and your sphere of influence. It says, “No one was aware Jonathan had left.” He had no position, no authority, and no power. He was a kid with a sword who nobody even noticed had gone. And all he had with him was someone else nobody noticed- another younger kid who helped carry his stuff. Nobody would have given them a chance and nobody even had a single thought that their simple act of faith would influence a nation!
Jonathan simply asked the only person he had influence with – his armor bearer, “Hey, why don’t we go over and see if we can pick a fight with these bad guys? Maybe God will give us the victory.” And his armor bearer said, “Go ahead, I am with you heart and soul.”
That is a great picture of influence and what taking the lead looks like! Because, basically, leadership is influence and influence is leadership! It’s all about heart and soul – not position and power. Notice, Jonathan didn’t wake up his father, the man with the position and power. Jonathon knew what the answer would be- “NO”. So he forgot about influencing and changing what he couldn’t and focused on influencing those closest to him (one guy) for good and for God.
Notice too, Jonathan didn’t try to rally the 600 men with Saul either! He knew they wouldn’t listen – he had no influence there! What am I saying? You don’t have to have the position or the power, be the pastor or head a program to be a person of influence! I know what I’m saying here and that we do have to be careful that we’re not merely running around starting ministries, not using wisdom, or having the wrong motivations…
Still, whether as a person or as a Life Group, you can lead in your sphere of influence. You don’t permission to make a difference as “salt and light” and through “good deeds!” LET’S ELEVATE THAT!! Sure, we often feel powerless to make a difference because we think we don’t have the resources or other things we think necessary. How can we really make a difference when we don’t have enough money or we don’t have the right connections or we don’t have the right position or a program isn’t being prioritized?? So, what happens?? We do nothing! We believe we’re powerless!!
But it’s because we’re missing the point of how influence really works! Jonathan simply said, “Hey, do you want to come with me?” He didn’t wield his power. He didn’t say, “I’m the prince, the king’s son, you have to listen to me!” No position and no power, just inspiration and influence! We can make a difference here! Stop looking for position and power and start looking at the people God has placed in your sphere of influence! Do you have any idea the difference you can make, or you and your spouse, or you and your friends, or you and your Life Group?? This is why we don’t mandate a huge menu of ministry here at GCC- we focus on the weekends, Life Groups, and every person as a missionary, and we say, “Go and make a difference in this mission field, take the lead where you can, and be “salt and light” influence!
Think of the potential, the possibilities… Think of how YOU can make a difference just through inviting people to Friend Day weekend?? Think how powerful all of our personal influence can be?? Jonathan had one scrawny, armor bearing kid, they had two swords, and God used it to route an army of 1000’s and change a nation from oppression to freedom! You never know what God can do with “this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…”
INFLUENCE TRAVELS THROUGH RELATIONSHIP SO BE A LOVER
Now I’ve said this already, but I want you to get this – it’s so critical. Relationship is the key to influence so be a lover of people! God uses relationship and the influence of relationship to change the world- the kingdom of God is built on relationship! Without relationship, there is no influence. God choses to advance His kingdom, to bring restoration, by shining His light through us to other people through the dynamic of influence! He doesn’t make it about position and power, but all about INFLUENCE- salt, light, good deeds in the everyday places!
Here’s what’s powerful!! Jonathan’s armor bearer did not sign up to go with Jonathon out of obligation or even obedience, but simply allegiance, love, and loyalty to his friend! Here’s the essence of influence – to win the heart and soul of another person through the strength of your own character and relationship! It’s not all our programs, ministries, doing church stuff that changes the world- it’s through loving relationships!!
That’s what makes a Friend Day so powerful! It’s not the church, GCC, reaching out to people- it’s me, it’s you, it’s each of us, though the relationships we already have, loving those people enough that we don’t want them to be lost! People don’t trust the church, but those you’re in relationship with, trust you! Influence is born out of trust, which is rooted in relationship.
Here’s the deal: if you grow your relationships, at home, at work, in your personal mission field, through your Life Group, your influence for good and God will grow as well and god will use that to bring restoration to people’s lives and to grow his church!
Here’s an assignment for this week: in your daily Bible reading you are reading about the life and ministry of Jesus. Watch how he de-emphasizes position and power, and even is very critical of it as he confronts the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. Notice how he is simply a lover of people and builds relationships! He doesn’t make ministry about programs or positions or power, but about people! And through these relationships, where he has the most influence, the world is changed!
Because of Jesus and his influence, primarily with a ragtag group of 11 misfits, every one of them was loyal to the cause of Christ, even willing to die for it themselves! Now, that’s influence! Influence, not based on position and power, but on being a lover of people so much you don’t want them to be lost. Influence based on relationship! You don’t need permission to connect with people who need Jesus!
INFLUENCE IS CONTAGIOUS SO BE A LIFER
Well, as you may know, it’s flu season! I’ve not been feeling the best this week myself. A few years ago, the H1N1 flu hit and it was devastating. Here’s some interesting facts about the flu, or influenza. It is believed to be one of the oldest viruses known to man- at least 6000 years old. It has caused massive pandemics throughout history because it is so contagious. The name, influenza, was coined by an Italian doctor in the 1700’s because the virus “flowed into” people through “bad air.”
Here’s an Italian doctor who said this virus has a lot of influence- influenza! Thankfully, we can take medicine to counteract the flu, to get rid of it- we don’t want to be sick with the flu for life! But we do want our “salt and light, good deeds” influence to be highly contagious for life! Remember, the definition of influence: “a power affecting a person, thing or course of events.”
Let’s be lifers when it comes to being carriers of the Good News of Jesus Christ, and cause an impact of pandemic proportions through our “salt and light, good deeds” influence! In our personal sphere of influence, with those we can connect and relate with, Jesus can become contagious as we give opportunity for his Spirit to flow into the lives of others through how we think, believe, and act!
That’s the power of influence each of us can have. We need to elevate our influence for Christ in 2012! Few people trust the church anymore, but that doesn’t mean they won’t trust you- through your acts of love, compassion, bringing Jesus into all those situations, lives can be eternally changed, minds and hearts changed about Christ and the church!
We don’t need a platform, a position, or power; we simply need to be salt and light and let people see our good deeds! I’m sure Jonathon’s armor bearer charged the hill with Jonathon because of the good influence Jonathon already had in this young man’s life!
Oftentimes, the power of influence is most realized in what seems to be the small and insignificant things that become great impactful things: Zerrubabel’s plumb line, David’s sling shot, Jonathon’s somewhat crazy decision, Pam Tebow’s decision to have her baby despite doctor’s warnings…
Let me read Matthew 5:13-16 again from The Message paraphrase: “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand–shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”
That’s the potential of our influence- and we need to elevate it in 2012!
Be a leader, be a lover, and be a lifer! Practically what’s this look like?
It’s YOU leading, YOU loving, YOU being a lifer with your influence in your sphere of life and relationships. You don’t need a position, nor power, nor permission- just be and act like Jesus, be salt, be light, do good deeds!
We should want people to think, believe, and act differently about the church! I can do that. My Life Group can do that. We can even simply invite people we’re already connected with, who already have a trusting relationship with us, to
FRIEND DAY WEEKEND, JAN. 28/29! USE YOUR INFLUENCE- the impact could change lives and maybe even elevate a nation!