Leaders are powerful people. Many assume that there’s an inference to the size of an organization, people, profession and/or financial impact. On the contrary, leaders are powerful people simply because of the influence they are given.
In their book, Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God’s Agenda, Henry and Richard Blackaby define influence as the ability to move people. This influence determines if people are leaders, even when they don’t want to acknowledge the leadership that they possess. If influence is indeed moving people, then artists move generations, athletes influence communities, spiritual leaders sway nations, and every day people affect large populations. Even our technology today has influence. This influence is real, raw power! But power without perspective can be very damaging and destructive.
Leaders, regardless of trade or profession, are accountable for their influence and set a course to manage that influence well. Without managing their influence well, leaders become accomplices to the crimes committed. These crimes, at times, may not violate any federal, state, and/or local laws, but are crimes that violate the nature of humanity. Specifically, the order that God has established in his creative processes, and the unique purposes that are assigned to individuals at conception. When one becomes a leader, they must also accept these four influence responsibilities:
Define Success: Every person who has influence must be poised to assist those whom they have sway over to properly define success. Without a clear picture of success, all of life is disconnected and purposeless. Without properly defining success, influencers can destroy the view of followers and inject the idea that aimless living is sufficient (see Proverbs. 29:18).
Character: Good character is living from the inside -out well. Good character is the attention to detail in all aspects of a person’s life to ensure that it clearly matches his or her stated or inferred values. Good character is the higher standard of living that allows us to establish healthy relationships, pursue noble causes, work with excellence, and ignite life transformation in others. Influencers, without good character, perpetuate the idea that lacking character is reasonable and passable, which ultimately leads to everyone determining their own standard of right. This lack of character destroys homes, religious institutions, businesses, government, and ultimately, society (see 1 Samuel 16:7).
Foresight: Foresight is the ability to see further than the immediate. Influencers must help those who follow them to see how their actions, behavior, and paradigms will impact their future. “A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks; a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered ”(The Message Bible, Proverbs 27:12). When “followers” follow without any consideration for the future, it is an unfortunate state of affairs. Leaders should help others to consider the future, otherwise they are being maliciously negligent.
Impact of Relationships: Most of us have heard the adage, “Birds of a feather, flock together.” It goes without saying that the nature of our relationships significantly impacts the nature of our lives – both personally and professionally. Those with influence must assert this at every corner. Often times, individuals are not able to really see the impact of close relationships. It takes the wisdom and foresight of influencers to share what they see. When influencers minimize the impact of corrupt relationships, it leaves the future of those “followers” to chance. History proves that leaving someone under the dominance of ill-advised people will destroy the confidence, foundation, and future of the influenced (see 1 Corinthians 15:33).
These four ideas are simply the beginning of the conversation concerning leadership responsibilities. There are dozens of additional responsibilities that are tagged with carrying influence. Indeed, influence is a prerequisite to getting anything worthwhile accomplished. However, mismanaged influence tears down the ability to build people, families, and communities. Mismanaged influence eliminates the expectation of leaders in any arena, and ultimately, causes individuals to live hopeless, visionless, and passionless lives. Manage your influence and you will have the power to build a nation.