by Dick Wamsley
During my senior year in Bible college, a professor took me aside after an Abnormal Psychology class one day and told me I had good insights into human behavior in class discussions. He encouraged me to pursue studies in the field of psychology and pastoral counseling. That informal encounter planted seeds of influence that led me to complete two masters degrees, one in pastoral counseling and one in student personnel work in higher education. That same professor became a lifelong friend and confidant, who continued to influence me to pursue ministries I might not have considered otherwise.
Every Christian leader is a steward of influence. If your life in any way connects with other people, you have a storehouse of influence to manage. Jesus reminded his disciples that they were stewards of influence in his Sermon on the Mount: “You are the light of the world. … In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven,” (Matthew 5:14, 16).
In his book, Stewardship of Life, author Kirk Nowery writes, “In essence, the stewardship of influence is the stewardship of relationships. Your life may have an impact in some field of endeavor; but ultimately and most significantly, your influence affects other people. And this is as it should be because it is what truly matters. As a friend once told me with great intensity, ‘Kirk, only two things last forever – the Word of God, and the souls of human beings,’” (Nowery, Stewardship of Life, p. 36).
One way you can be a good steward of your influence is to live a life of godly character. Everyone has character. A leader with godly character will lead others to live godly lives. J. Oswarld Sanders wrote “If those who hold influence over others fail to lead toward the spiritual uplands, then surely the path to the lowlands will be well worn,” (Sanders, Spiritual Leadership, p. 19).
All around you are people who look to you as a role model. They are watching what you do, listening to what you say, and following where you walk. Every word you speak and every action you take has an impact on them. Whether you realize it or not, you steward your influence by the way you live.
You also steward your influence by the way you serve. Dr. Dan Gerdes once told Pat Williams, the long-time Orlando Magic basketball team executive, that if you seek to influence the next generation use your influence “… to instill in young people the image of leading as a form of serving,” (Williams, The Difference You Make, pp. 57-58). If you want to influence others, your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. So take up the towel and become a servant.
How are we stewarding our storehouses of influence?