Written By Phylicia Masonheimer, USA
Phylicia Masonheimer teaches Christian women how to know what they believe and live it boldly. She is a blogger, podcast host, and speaker. Her writing focuses on discerning truth in a culture of confusion and letting that truth draw us nearer to God. Phylicia lives in northern Michigan with her husband and children. Phyliciamasonheimer.com, IG: @phyliciamasonheimer
I first realized the extent of my influence from an Amazon book listing.
I’d discovered a book I thought would be helpful to the readers of my website and followers on social media. It was a great book, and seemed relevant to their needs. After I shared it, the author messaged me privately: “Thank you so much! My book made the Amazon best seller list because of your word!”
What was meant to be encouraging, stopped me in my tracks. Had I ever shared a book without vetting it carefully enough? If I could share one book and people would buy it, how many other things had I said, endorsed, or offered without considering just how great the impact might be? The danger of misusing my influence had never been more clear.
That’s what we call people with more than 10,000 Instagram followers. People with massive Facebook followings—those who partner with brands and write #sponsored at the start of their captions. Influencer is a job title. A status symbol. An identity.
That’s what we’ve been led to believe, anyway. We deem our small circles of influence insignificant and unworthy. We think our words and actions can’t possibly have much merit.
Yet all of us—yes, all of us—have influence. All of us send ripples across the surface of our daily lives, from interactions with the grocery store clerk, to a phone call with mom. The post we make to our 150 followers? It says something. It offers perspective and calls people to think about whatever we are sharing.
We all have influence. The question we have to ask ourselves is: Will I steward it well?
Jesus was a leader and a man of influence training up disciples who would have an incredible impact on their corner of the world, and eventually, the entire planet. Jesus’ leadership lesson was simple, but challenging:
“Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)
“Some people lord their influence over others,” Jesus said. “But not so with you.”
At this point, Jesus’ disciples were humble ex-fishermen and former tax collectors . . . far from the educated spiritual leaders of the day. Jesus gave them authority to preach the gospel (a commission we all received when He ascended—Matthew 28:19-20), but that authority was not meant to be a means of status or attention. It was an impetus to service.
Jesus used Himself as an example of what influence should look like. Coming from the humblest beginnings, Jesus bent the glory of God to the body of man. He was an intelligent teacher, excellent communicator, and compassionate leader. But He used His influence to serve, and expected His disciples to do the same.
When our little post on Instagram encourages a few people, when we offer our time to serve at church, when we ask about the grocery clerk’s day, when we take time to stop by our grandparents’, when we make cookies for the new neighbors—we are exerting influence through service. We are imitating Christ!
Influencing with Integrity
So how do we handle our influence, whether on or offline? When our opportunity to influence expands—such as leading in our communities, churches, and families—so does our responsibility to steward influence well.Having walked this road both personally and professionally, I’ve narrowed down three things influence should always be about if we are to steward it with integrity.
Influence should always be about genuine relationship.
If we are not careful, we can start to use our influence to direct people’s opinions or feelings as a way to feel better about ourselves. We become interested in how people can make us more visible, or make us feel needed. We forget that influence is based on the quality of relationship we have with people.
When we lead, let’s center our leadership on the real, breathing people we’re interacting with! How can we know them better? What are their fears, needs, thoughts, and struggles?
Jesus led from a place of service, always considering the needs of those in His care. He humbled Himself and entered into relationship with people who did not deserve Him (Mark 10:45).
Influence should always be about humble service.
Listening to the needs of others is one way to follow Jesus’ example. Knowing those needs should drive us to serve them better. How can we meet their needs with our leadership?
As an achiever, it’s easy for me to get caught up in titles and promotions simply for the sake of status. But when such opportunities come, I’m humbled to remember: This position, promotion, and opportunity exists so I can serve people. I love what Hebrews 6:10 says:
“God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.”
Influence should always be about working for our Savior.
Regardless of how people respond to your influence, remember for whom you are ultimately working. You are working for Jesus Christ, following His example and being shaped into His image.
This can be easy to forget, especially when influence looks like nannying young children or teaching in the church nursery; when it looks like caring for difficult patients in the hospital, or respecting a boss who is set on disliking you. We work for Jesus. We work to hear His “well done” (Matthew 25:23).
Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve. His life was given up to bless all of us! In light of that knowledge, I have to ask: Does my social media serve others, the way He served me? Do my family relationships reflect a humble spirit? Would my community recognize me as a servant, or as someone craving a spotlight?
We are all influencers. Our influence may not be recognized or celebrated by the world, but it is seen by God. So, will we steward it well?