The past few days I have struggled with this concept. I can’t seem to get it out of my head. Even our greatest in leadership are human and many fail. Even if someone doesn’t hold a leadership position, they are a person of influence to someone. Think about it for a second for your own life. Are you a leader in an aspect? Are you someone who others look up to for wisdom, guidance, prayer, and counsel? Are you a person of influence?
You are a person of influence…to someone. You are a person who someone, somewhere looks at. They watch your lifestyle. They observe your postings on social media. You might be their parent. You might be their church leader or pastor. You might be their teacher. You might just be someone a little older than them. But whether you like it or not, you have influence in this world to someone. And my heart is grieved when those with larger audiences ignore the burden of their influence.
It may seem like nothing to you, but what you do matters. What you say matters. How you approach conflict and criticism matters, especially the larger your platform. Friend, whether you’re a pastor of a mega church or a stay at home parent, you need to be held accountable. You need to allow yourself room for someone else to shape you into the best person you can be, especially as a Christian. And to be clear: you don’t have to be a Christian to be a person of influence; my readers just tend to be a lot of Christians and pastors. Allow people access to your life to be your accountability; the ones that can be your support system but also the people that will call you on your crap. Allow people to speak life into you even and especially when it seems like little life actually exists. You are human and you will face circumstances that make you want to act out foolishly, take revenge, speak gossip, or whatever else. Choose wisely how you respond even when life isn’t the greatest because someone is watching you. Your kids, your students, your coworkers, your subordinates, your congregants, your neighbors, your siblings and so many others are watching you, especially those of you who profess to be Christians. They are watching to see your response.
Some just fail more loudly than others.
Don’t fail into the trap of social media tirades. Don’t gossip about it especially if you haven’t prayed about it. Everything we do is a point of influence and if we aren’t careful, we might not be influencing others the way we would actually want. I know for me personally, especially as a minister, I am not only a professed Christian, but someone who others come to for counsel, prayer, and wisdom. In my grief, anger, brokenness and anything else I face, I still have a choice to be human and go through the processes I need to without damaging my influence. I firmly believe a huge goal in our lives as Christians is to point people to Jesus with how we live our lives, the good and the bad. One poor social media post, one inappropriate conversation with someone at work, one act lacking integrity, one flirtation with someone married…the list can go on but it comes down to the fact that one thing can destroy your credibility, your voice, your influence.
Your influence can always be redeemed. Jesus can redeem anything. But friend, I urge you to be cautious, especially those with the bigger platform of influence. If you mess up, if you sin greatly or publicly, if you destroy everything that was once your influence, that doesn’t have to be the end of your story. Allow accountability again. Allow correction. Be humble. Ask for forgiveness with those you hurt. Whatever your failure might look like, it is redeemable. But you have to want it. If you haven’t messed up greatly, that’s amazing. If you are in some form of leadership, lead well by following Christ’s example. Walk in humility, integrity, character, own your mistakes and hold yourself and others accountable.
Steward your influence well. Make the conscious continued choice to live well, to allow yourself to still be refined, to allow yourself to be human, but to also recognize that you are an example to those around you of your beliefs. You get to choose how you respond to things which ultimately shapes your influence, regardless of the size or type of platform you have.