Influence, both positive and negative, is a powerful and infectious force. It is one of the strongest resources available to those leading the mission of God’s Kingdom. God has gifted your church with people who have the ability to lead, cast vision, and mobilize the mission of the church. Effective pastors recognize that influence lives all around them, and they choose to leverage it to multiply God’s mission. Influence may be invisible, but it’s effects are not unnoticed.
Webster’s Dictionary defines influence as the capacity to have an effect on the development or behavior of someone or something. In the church, influence should be used positively to help people bear godly fruit—spiritual and evangelistic growth.
In his book Jesus on Leadership, Ken Blanchard writes “Leadership happens anytime we influence the thinking, behavior, or development of another person.”
How does a pastor lead a congregation forward? By using all the influence available.
As pastors, we must settle internally the idea that seeing the Gospel spread in our communities is our greatest satisfaction, not being the boss. Leadership begins in the heart. One of my favorite leadership quotes from John Maxwell says, “The goal is more important than the role.”
Many pastors view leadership as a role, title, or position instead of an agent of change and progress. Although you may be the senior leader for your congregation, God didn’t call you to simply be in charge. He called you to be a visionary shepherd to protect, nourish, and grow the flock. This includes equipping others in your congregation to lead and then giving them opportunities.
When we leverage the voice of key influential people, our leadership grows. Do you remember the old E.F. Hutton commercials on television? The scene was usually in a crowded room and one person says, “My broker is E.F. Hutton and he says . . .” The room goes quiet to hear what E.F. Hutton has to say. The commercial would say, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”
The same is true in our churches. The congregation is looking to those key voices before choosing to follow. When they speak everyone listens.
Four Characteristics of Key Influencers in Your Church
- They have strong relationships with people.
- They have strong knowledge of the church and community.
- They have faithful experience within the church.
- They have proven abilities to help make progress.
Every time I started a new position in a church, I would begin building relationships with people. Build relationships with people. Build relationships with all people in the church, but begin to identify those key influential voices.
God has called you to lead. Anybody can be in charge, but not everyone can be a leader. Look for people with influence around you, spend time with them, and pray that God will unify your hearts and minds to lead the church forward.