I have said that there are three kinds of leaders:

  1. Those who watch things happen
  2. Those who make things happen
  3. Those who don’t know what’s happening

You, by His grace, and with the power of the Holy Spirit, will want to be a leader who makes things happen; a leader Who makes a difference in the world using your God-given vision and your God-given gifts. Rick Warren shares three simple and practical ideas on how to have “Influence” for the Kingdom of God.

Guest Post by Rick Warren

Everything you have is a gift from God. God has given you your family, your health, your ministry, and even your freedom.

If God didn’t give you the ability to work for what you have, you wouldn’t have anything.

God expects you to be a good steward of everything he has given, including your influence. He wants you to use your influence to help others.

What is influence? It’s not fame. You can be famous and not influential. Many people know celebrities, but they don’t care what they think. It’s also not wealth. You can’t buy influence. The Cambridge Dictionary defines influence as the power “to affect how someone or something develops, behaves, or thinks.” God expects you to use that kind of influence for good.

How can you do that? Start with these three steps.

1. Recognize your influence.

Everyone has influence. You’re likely aware of some of your own influence at church and at home.

Yet you might not be aware of all the influence you have. You influence everyone you come into contact with, such as your relatives, neighbors, and even casual acquaintances.

When you go into a store, you can make or break the cashier’s day by what you say and do. The same is true for mail carriers, ushers, and salespeople you meet as you go about your day.

You either influence people for Christ or against Christ all the time. God calls us to be good stewards of every kind of influence we have. Paul writes, “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that” (Galatians 6:4 The Message).

Until you can clearly see the influence you already have, you can’t begin to wield and maximize your influence for good.

2. Exercise your influence.

Our lives would have much more influence if we’d become more intentional in how we use it. Your influence is like a muscle. You’ll either use it or lose it.

These five actions can help you use your influence and slowly grow it. They start small with simple actions and progress to more difficult actions. The final one may even cost you your life one day. The more effort you put in, the greater your influence will be. 

  • Smile at people. Anyone can do this. Smiling has an incredible impact on the people in your life. When you smile at someone, they smile at you. That means you’ve influenced them and affected their day.
  • Sympathize with people. Show emotional support, encouragement, and care in people’s lives. When you show people you care, you open the door for influence within their life.
  • Serve people. God’s economy says the greater you serve someone, the greater influence you have on them. Serving people takes effort because you can’t do it from a distance.
  • Speak up. Psalm 107:2 reminds us, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so” (KJV)To influence others, you can’t be afraid of talking openly about your relationship with Christ.
  • Sacrifice. You can’t live a comfortable life if you want to have influence. You’ll need to make sacrifices to influence the world. While this can mean huge, life-altering sacrifices, it often means everyday sacrifices in the normal activities of life.

3. Maximize your influence.

Do your best to develop and expand your influence. At first, that might seem arrogant, but you aren’t expanding your influence for your own sake. God himself tells us to maximize our influence. The Bible says, “Make good use of every opportunity you have, because these are evil days” (Ephesians 5:16 GNT).

Instead of being selfish, you’re expanding your influence for Jesus’ sake. That’s the only reason you’re on earth. Otherwise, he’d take you straight to heaven when you get saved. You only have two legitimate reasons to expand your influence—to help people and to share Christ with others. Any other reason is selfishness.

After I wrote The Purpose Driven Life, I started getting more attention. I never wanted to become a celebrity, so I began praying: “Lord, what do you want me to do with this influence?”

That’s when God brought Psalm 72 to my mind. Solomon prayed this when he was the wealthiest and wisest person in the world. It sounds arrogant for him to then pray for more power and influence. But Solomon’s prayer is anything but selfish.

Notice what Solomon wants to do with his influence. He wants to help society’s most vulnerable. He prays, “He will help the poor when they cry out and will save the needy when no one else will help. He will be kind to the weak and poor, and he will save their lives” (Psalm 72:12-13 NCV).

God expects us to use the influence he has given us to speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves.

You might not think you have much influence right now. You feel you’re serving in the middle of nowhere and your impact is limited.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. Remember, the story of Moses. He was an ordinary shepherd on the backside of the desert. But when God told him to give up his staff—the source of his identity, income, and influence as a shepherd—Moses obeyed.

Throughout the rest of Moses’ life God used that same staff to do miracles, like turning the water of the Nile into blood and splitting the Red Sea.

Moses gave what little he had to God, so that he could influence the world for good and for God. The world was never the same again.

Are you ready to lay down everything to use your influence for God?