If you’ve been following the PLG Blog, you probably understand to some extent that Leadership is Influencing People. There are different levels of influence that you can have on others, and they have the ability to influence you as well. Influence, or leadership, happens best through relationships. If you look at the life of Jesus and the people he influenced most, you will see that they were his closest apostles. He was a leader to multitudes of people, but it is those few He invested in who went on to change the world, building His church. Jesus influenced the sick and broken through healing and teaching.
As I was listening to the news earlier today, I heard that Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 inmates at a juvenile detention center in Italy where Holy Thursday Mass was held (read about it here). This act of servanthood is likely to be the catalyst for change in at least one of those twelve inmates, and it is likely to influence many people who hear the story. When I heard the story on the news, they made a point to mention that many of the inmates in that prison are Muslims. Can you see what a difference that serving can have on influence compared to debating and arguing?
In recent weeks, the debate over same-sex marriage has heated up again through mainstream media, social networks, and the US judiciary system. The “marriage equality icon” has been plastered on countless websites and social media profiles in an attempt to influence others to rethink their stance on the issue. In response, many other people have adapted the logo for their own purposes or to sarcastically take a stance against “marriage equality.” While changing your profile picture to a logo or writing a blog post about your stance on the issues at hand might influence some, it is doubtful that it is the kind of influence you are hoping for. Arguments and mud-slinging comes from the people you disagree with and praises come from the people on your side. Congratulations, you’ve influenced people to plant their feet even stronger where they stand.
Walt Mueller wrote a blog post today on the debate about same-sex marriage, Why Gay Marriage Is Good For The Church. The post is not as shocking as the title makes it out to be, but there was one line that stood out to me when I read it. Writing about why the current debate on gay marriage is good for the church, he states:
It will awaken us to the fact that clichés, reactive social media icons, and organized protests don’t do much more than turn off the very people we hope to influence.
Reactionary posts on social media will do absolutely nothing to influence life change. Towing the party line and protesting policies do very little to affect change in the lives of the people you hope to influence. If you want to influence change, you have to put some intentional work into the relationship. You have to make a difference in their lives. You have to get down on your hands and knees, and wash their feet.
What are you doing to influence change in the lives of the people around you? Let me know in the comments below.