Leadership Influence: You Can Change the World

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“So, what color are you thinking?”

That was me, the husband asking silly questions. A few years ago, we decided to paint the house. The current paint was at least fifteen years old, and the harsh UV rays and cold winters had taken its toll. It was now a dull yellow—almost pale.

I was ready to paint it the same color, but that plan was vetoed by the Resident Color Coordinator. She brought home one color sample after another and “tested” them side by side on the north end of the house. The display induced long stares from curious passersby who were fearful the new house color would be Kaleidoscope Krazy or Rainbow Rush.

Eventually, we settled on a Forest Green, a radical departure from bright and cheery into subtle earth tones. The neighbors processed the bold change one drive-by at a time. Who knew that this transformation in color direction would serve as a community catalyst? Less than two weeks later, painters attacked the house across the street, changing the color from cool brown to hot mauve. The next-door neighbor changed his house color from depressing blue to vivid almond. By year’s end, a total of seven houses had taken the leap of paint, some in a completely new color direction.

What’s Your Influence?

To see an entire street be transformed through paint makes me wonder what other things can be changed with simple, yet daring moves. Could we impact our workplaces with courageous thought or flip a corporate culture through God-centric values? Can we transform communities through spirited acts of generosity? Bold personal change gives others the permission—and courage—to do the same. By just doing something different, I might just inspire others to do the same.

Leadership gets hung up on models and formulas for success. We read books and engage in five steps or three ways or seven habits. But until we influence others to act, we are just going through the motions.

Leaders don’t have self-esteem problems. We don’t suffer from thoughts of inadequacy. Instead we fear that by exerting our influence we will make others feel insecure. So we hide our light under a bushel, retreating from our God-given ability. We melt into the landscape, camouflaging our talents.

Have you ever been part of a team where no one will step up and take charge? Everyone looks around, hoping, praying that someone, anyone else will be responsible. We know full well that we could be part of the solution, and instead, by our passivity, we become part of the problem.

Leaving the Sands of Obscurity

Moses was an interesting character. He spent his early years in Pharaoh’s household, no doubt receiving the best the culture had to offer—schooling, medical care, and exposure to the finest minds in the land. But after one foolish act in the desert, he became a fugitive. He was resigned to live out his days in the hot sands of obscurity.

But his plan was interrupted. A burning bush and a voice told him that he had a responsibility to speak, to lead, to influence. Still, he hid behind Aaron, pretending he was still a nobody on the run. But God pressed him to do what God had called him to do. Moses later led an entire slave nation out of captivity.

It might not have been a burning bush, but at some point you knew that God wanted you to act regardless of your past, your insecurities, or your inadequacies.

Pretending to be insignificant doesn’t do a single thing to change the world. Diminishing your capacities wastes the investments that others have placed in you and causes them to wonder what they saw in the first place. Shrinking from the task doesn’t motivate the workplace, the school, or the family.

Do you think your voice isn’t loud enough; your character not strong enough; your skills not persuasive enough? I’ve got news for you. The world can indeed be changed—when people who might seem insignificant yield to the purposes of God. The body of Christ is dispersed all over, and we each have our own contribution to make. You have great opportunity for influence, and together we can impact the world. In the end, He is enough and that’s enough for me.

It might just start with a bucket of paint.

Leadership Influence: Beyond the Stereotype

When we think of “leadership” or “influence,” we often get the image of a person of arrogant swagger, always self-confidently willing to tell people what they ought to do. And we naturally find such an image unseemly. This is not the image of Jesus, the most influential person who walked the planet. Neither is it the image of those we truly admire and can name were the most influential people in our own lives. In this series at The High Calling, Leadership Influence: Beyond the Stereotype, we feature stories of how people can be influential in ways that really matter.

Image by Kevin Poh. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr. This article was originally published June 15, 2014.