No matter your background, it is very likely you have heard one of Jesus’ most quoted lines from His Sermon on the Mount. At one point, Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. ‘You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.’”
What is interesting about salt and light is that neither one makes a sound, but you are always aware of either’s presence. Picture being at a restaurant after your plate is served. You take a bite and are immediately revolted by the over-saltiness of the food. You complain to the waiter, and they hurry to recook your food. You could not see the salt, but its influence on your food was nonetheless incontestable. Likewise, if you walk into a pitch-black room and light a match, you will see that light, because light always trumps darkness. The influence of salt and light are immediately apparent and undeniable.
If we are to be salt and light, the question becomes: how are we influencing our environment? Do you influence your employees, boss, neighbors, or family with a gracious attitude? Do you influence those you lead with a high character? Are you negatively influenced by your surrounding or current unrest? Are you actively engaged in influencing and not being adversely influenced?
Here are three ways to effectively increase your influence.
SEEK AND DISCOVER
Nothing is yours until you discover it for yourself. One reason Jesus often spoke in parables is because He wanted to respect everyone’s right to remain ignorant. He never wanted to assume that anyone wanted the information He was giving out. What have you discovered in life? You likely have a better memory for anything you learned serendipitously or through your investigative efforts than what you Googled last night.
We are more likely to share the wisdom of a discovery with enthusiasm than the factoid gained with little exertion. In life, you will discover things about yourself that you love and hate. Both discoveries will be effective guides in increasing your influence if you allow their revelations to do the leading.
What glory is there in being the best fighter when your heart longs for peace? What benefit is there in being a master of demolition when your passion is to build businesses? Sometimes we get a job and then get stuck on that job simply because we are afraid of missing a paycheck. That is a natural and reasonable fear. It is so reasonable that it may not allow room for the unreasonable and unmistakable means through which God reveals life’s purpose to each of us.
Furthermore, failing and failure are different. Failing is temporary, and if we learn the proper lessons, we can once again find ourselves on the path to greater influence. Failure is permanent because it means we have given up hope and have ceased making efforts. Failure is the pallbearer that escorts purpose out of our lives.
We are all called to exert our influence in a specific ‘area of influence.’ What did you learn this week to make yourself more influential in your area of influence? If you are a musician, what did you learn that will better equip you when you play. If you are a manager or in a leadership position, how many books have you read on leadership? If you are a teacher, you, of all people, should be an avid reader. When I teach and train ministers to teach, I always stress that great teachers should be great students. The one thing students must do is read.
At this point, some of you may feel like you have spent so long doing the wrong thing that you don’t know how to get right. Rest assured. Every day that you wake up is another opportunity to get it right. Maybe you even started a process years ago but then got distracted or fell off for one reason or another. To you, I say one word, “FINISH!” In a world full of starters, be a finisher. You were born to produce a change in the earth. The world needs your influence. It’s easy to be frustrated with external influences. It’s hard to affect change by being influential. Do the HARD thing!
About Alex McElroy
Alex McElroy is an international speaker, Apologist, author, blogger, leadership advisor, and the former Pastor of Education at New Life Covenant Southeast Church, with over 20,000 members led by Pastor John F. Hannah. Now a founding Pastor at Engage Community Church, Alex has served in both youth and teaching ministries at New Life for over 13 years. In that role, he taught Discipleship class designed for adults to learn, fellowship, and grow in their faith within a small group setting. Alex has also trained hundreds of teachers and ministers to deliver lessons in proper lifestyle, Biblical study, focused preparation, and Apologetics in order to maximize their effectiveness in and for the Kingdom of God.
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