I’m old enough to be able to recognize where my influence has been greatest.
Some people think their influence comes in the official role they have with others. Certainly that is true with things like parenting, marriage, etc. And to some extent it is true in work.
However, in most areas of life influence comes in informal relational ways. That became abundantly clear to me last month when I had breakfast with a 32-year old former college student from the college I served back in the mid-2000s.
You see, I had an official role/title there at the Bible College. I was the Vice-President for College Advancement. Sounds pretty impressive, huh?
In that role, I was responsible for all of the outside constituencies of the school; alumni, pastors, churches, donors and prospective students.
Early on in my time there I was pointed to a kid who was a son of two alums. Dustin was a high school student from Pennsylvania. His family has a rich history in ministry, and he is a fourth generation Christ-follower in his family.
He and I clicked on that first phone call in 2002 and never turned back. His parents are literally my age but here I was on the phone connecting with a then 18-year old. While I had the official role as VP, Dustin and I became good friends.
One of the great memories I have of Dustin was sitting around the campfire in my backyard as I was transitioning out of the Bible College into The Hardy Group.
There were three college guys and me talking like friends engaged on the journey one of us – me – was on. These guys gave me very useful and thoughtful counsel as 22-year olds. I was 52.
Needless to say, I have extremely fond memories of those guys, in particular Dustin. They were more than students to me; they were true friends. These guys sat with me not as the VP of the Bible College but as a friend they had grown to know and appreciate.
[NOTE: Want to increase the influence you have on the people at your church beyond Sunday mornings? Click below to see how Pastor Andrew is using the Hubworthy resource to have a daily impact.]
Fast forward to 2016 – Dustin made contact with me two months ago letting me know he was going to be in town for a few weeks. He wanted to connect up and specifically said, not for business but just for friendship. I jumped on that opportunity.
We met and talked for over an hour and a half and could have done double that time. At that breakfast, almost 10 years since the time around the camp fire, we talked of The Hardy Group, that which was only a concept in March 2007.
We talked of his academic journey and his desire to pursue a PhD — to invest his life in college students as a professor. I told him to not forget us small people when he became a really smart guy! 🙂
What struck me is how easily we talked. Dustin is a good friend. He’s not of my generation. We have much that is different about us because of age and station in life. I have six grandkids – he’s not married. But he is my friend – and he is so not because of my title at the Bible College.
God blessed each of us to have influence with the other not because of roles or titles. Yes, the role/title set the stage for the first phone call. But I had lots of first phone calls that did not turn into long-term friendships.
So what’s my point?
It is not to diminish roles or titles. It is to note that influence comes by presence and relationship. Leaders know this and work to influence people in their spheres to do and be more than the role/title mandates of them.
For pastors who frequently communicate week-in and week-out the truths of scripture there is a sense that so much more can be done to help people than just during the preaching slot on the weekend.
What pastor would not want to influence their congregation on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, etc. every week of life?
Can you imagine what it would be like to influence the church because of who you are and what is in your heart for people, far beyond your title of “pastor”?
To this end, I have really appreciated my good friend, Doug Hudson and his team when I learned of how they purpose to help pastors and church leaders spread their influence way beyond the weekend through Hubworthy. You can check it out here:
You see, when you can influence informally (not because of your title but because of your relationship), you have the greatest capacity to make a difference in the life of another.
Conversations go to deeper levels. Prayer for each other goes deeper. The transparency is best. Authenticity is front and center.
While I genuinely value communicating with a sharp, young spiritual leader like Dustin, I believe he also values a non-family member like me who has been down the road just a bit longer than he.
A little gray hair (which I have more than a little) is valued by a young man looking to be exactly what God wants him to be. I hope I play a small role to that end with Dustin.
Here’s what you need to ask yourself:
1. What are you doing to influence people beyond your preaching?
2. What are you doing to invest in peoples’ lives beyond the weekend?
Influence can happen 24/7. When you can share your wisdom with people in ways that enrich their lives, both they and you will find great fulfillment.
The resources you have in your head, on your bookshelf and in your laptop can be made available to those not only in your church but in your community as well. In this age of information sharing, why would you not want to develop relational influence with as many people as possible? That’s what making disciples is all about!
I am most grateful to the Lord that he allowed Dustin and me to have genuine friendship and influence with each other. Watching that influence grow in the years to come will be an absolute delight for both of us. I trust you’ll have the same experiences, too!
Again, check out the free offer from my buddies at Hubworthy. It is very kind of them to offer this exclusively to The Hardy Group family – and that means you! 🙂