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The Possibilities of Daily Influence
Every person has influence: fathers and moms influence their kids; managers influence their employees; church leaders influence their members. The danger is when we mistake influence for power. True, people in authority can often force compliance. But that is coercion, not influence. Influence is a gentler undertaking. Cynics who call it “manipulation,” are wrong, because real influence grows only in the soil of love. And love is as unrelated to the cool detachment of manipulation as it is to the raw use of power.
Jesus had at his disposal all the power in the universe. As the world turned against Him and His kingdom, He asked His followers, “Do you think I cannot appeal to my Father, and He would not at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” Of course Jesus could issue that appeal, but the following story helps explain why He never would.
A hardened reporter once asked a pastor if there were any way God could change the world into a better place. The pastor said, “Yes, a supernatural way and a natural way.” The reporter wanted no nonsense about the supernatural, so he asked, “What’s the natural way?” The pastor said, “God could send legions of angels to force everyone to do what God wants done.” The flummoxed reporter then asked, “What’s the supernatural way?” The pastor gently replied, “We could let God change our hearts.”
To influence others is to let God work in us to change our hearts and work through us to change the hearts of others. This process requires us to rely on the fruits of the Spirit and not on our position or title, be it coach or mom or supervisor. One’s rank may gain a hearing, but the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—can change lives. We influence others by showing a life lived radically differently. Abraham Lincoln was once asked by a friend why he continued to be kind and thoughtful to a fellow politician who was a sworn enemy. Lincoln replied, “If I can win him as a friend, I get rid of my enemy just as surely as if I had destroyed him.”
People mired in the petty, transitory things of this world are hungry for bigger dreams and for a god bigger than their own self-interest. They were created with “eternity in their hearts.” They sense that they were “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Even if they cannot articulate it, they know deep down that they have been made “in the image of God” for something greater than they know now. If we are seeking God and wanting to serve others, simply by our seeking God, those in our circle of influence may be drawn to the exciting possibility of serving as “co-laborers with God” in the high calling of our daily work.
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