The Exploration of Influence
Something deep inside each of us longs to count.
We want to matter to the world. We long to make a difference. We get bored, tired, even depressed by routine and monotony. We’re desperate for significance. We’re searching for acknowledgment. We beam when someone says, “You matter.” We seek praise, accolades, and awards, but somehow once we achieve them, they feel empty and we move on to another desperate search for the next fix that will affirm our worth.
Our hearts yearn for influence because it is a part of how God has created us. It’s why we sense a call to leadership. It’s why we can’t help but step up when a situation is begging for a leader.
But how do you steward this desire for influence well? You’ve likely seen it abused either by yourself or by others. You’ve seen leadership go awry. You’ve experienced inappropriate use of power.
What does it look like to steward our influence in a God-honoring way?
Several years ago I was wrestling with this idea significantly. While I felt a distinct call to leadership, I was also terrified of misusing my influence and causing more harm than good. At that time, I stumbled upon a passage in Galatians that provided a framework for discovering and unleashing my God-given influence.
“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” (Galatians 6:4-5, The Message)
Let’s unpack this for a minute:
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given. Who are you? What’s the work you’ve been given? And before you answer too quickly, notice the “and” between those two phrases. They are not one and the same. Who you are is not the work you do. They are two distinct things, but for many years of my life I mistakenly defined who I was by what I did. It’s a core identity issue that plagues many of us. This part of the verse reminds me that one comes before the other. First I must understand who I am as a child of God. What is unique about me? How has God specifically created me? Then I can proceed in exploring the work he’s given me to do. Where has he placed me? What roles has he given me?
Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. In the middle of this verse God gives us a big flashing neon warning sign reminding us that it’s not about us. It’s not about how we measure up to others. It’s still all about who he created us to be and what he created us to do.
Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. I love the freedom and the beauty of this statement. First there is a reminder of the responsibility. We’ve been given much to give much in return. We need not take that lightly. But before we get too uptight we’re reminded to do the “creative best.” What would your creative best look like if you fully understood who you are and what God has called you to do?
You are specifically designed to impact the world in a way that no one else can. You have a specific purpose, a calling, that only you are qualified to fulfill. Your God-given influence defines your purpose. Your purpose establishes your leadership. Your leadership makes a mark on the world.
That’s the beauty and the calling of leadership and it’s well worth the exploration!
Jenni Catron serves as the Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and author of Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence (January 2014, HarperCollins). Jenni’s passion is to lead well and to inspire, equip and encourage others to do the same. Jenni blogs at www.jennicatron.com.
Called: The Crisis and Promise of Following Jesus Today
Last month, Mark Labberton, the president of Fuller Seminary and our personal friend published an incredibly important new book, Called. Mark Roberts, primary author of our Daily Reflections, felt so strongly about the book that he commissioned several videos to help bring Labberton’s ideas to as many people as possible. Marcus Goodyear, editor of The High Calling, has said plainly, “If you read The High Calling, you must read Mark Labberton’s new book.”
Learn more about the ideas of this new book in our newest collection of videos and related content on Mark Labberton’s book Called, as well as some of our most significant articles on calling, including this one hand selected by our editorial staff to be part of this collection.