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Man looking out over a lake pondering his influence

Influence or Success

God is calling us to be people of greater influence. We are all called to be godly influencers, regardless of our calling or title. We cannot make disciples without influencing others! But we can easily lose our focus on influence and instead look towards success.

The world’s focus is on success, and this focus is on self.

Success means: the accomplishment of an aim or purpose, the attainment of popularity or profit, a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity.

One of the evidences of success is growth; you have more of something and its bigger and better. This was not Jesus’ focus nor His example to us. It says in John 6:66, “From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.”

Jesus had many disciples and when He began to share some challenging thoughts, many left Him. His many followers got whittled down to twelve. Of those twelve, one repeatedly cursed and denied knowing Him, another was characterised by doubt, others were known to argue with each other about their importance and who would get the best seat in heaven, one was stealing from the organisations finances and ended up betraying Jesus and committing suicide. At His point of greatest need, they all deserted Him. He was not, as man would define it, a person of great success!

However, God’s focus is on influence, and this focus is on others. Consider these scriptures:

Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.”

Mark 8:36 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”

Matthew 20:28 “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Influence means: the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself, the power to shape policy.

While success equals gain, influence equals change. Jesus came to influence people’s lives, not to be a successful person. Leadership and influence are about us adding to others by giving, while success is about us achieving for ourselves by getting.

Jesus saw the problem in people’s lives, and He added the solution!

Jesus saw death so He came to add life. Jesus saw worthlessness so He came to add value. Jesus saw fear so He came to add love. Jesus saw worry so He came to add peace. Jesus saw hopelessness so He came to add hope.

Jesus literally changed environments, cultures and people’s lives by influencing them – by adding to them by giving.

The woman caught in adultery was feeling condemned. Jesus saw this and added acceptance, and by doing so, removed condemnation. The Samaritan woman at the well was feeling unworthy to be loved because five men had left her. Jesus saw this and added love and honour, and by doing so, subtracted unworthiness. After denying Jesus three times, Peter felt disqualified and unworthy. Jesus saw this and added acceptance and a fresh commissioning.

Like Jesus, we are always adding to or removing things from people’s lives. So, what are you adding to people’s lives and what are you subtracting? There were times in difficult conversations with others that I added frustration, anger and careless words, and by doing so, subtracted honour, respect and value. The reason I did this was because I felt I was right; therefore I focused on achieving for myself by getting the upper hand. I wanted to be successful in this argument.

But there have also been times when I added gentleness, honour, patience and respect. When my focus was on adding to others and selfless giving, I removed anger, frustration and hurt. I wanted to be influential in this conversation; to love them like Jesus does.

God is calling us all to be people of greater influence. So, in your everyday life, when you see a lack in people’s lives, add the opposite. When you see criticism, add some encouragement. If you recognise hopelessness, add some hope. Look to be influential, rather than successful. When you go up – that’s success. But when you help others go up – that’s influence.

Bible

Your Confession

Father knows your thoughts, your inner desires and dreams, your unspoken words of prayer. That personal and intimate conversation that is for His ears alone is precious and powerful. But the Angels and Demons do not know the silent whispers of your heart! They are only impacted by what you say with your mouth!

Atmospheres do not change with the meditation of your heart; they change with the confession of your mouth. Your praise does not shift the armies of Heaven unless it is verbalised.

Your worship and adoration, which is for HIS ears alone, can be silent, the beauty of a heart overwhelmed in His presence. It is a beautiful thing and HE LOVES such moments. We should have more of them. But it is in the confession of our lips that our spiritual authority (an internal reality) is expressed and brings His will on Earth as it is in Heaven (an external manifestation of that reality).

There is the world of difference between worship and adoration (which can be verbal or silent) and praise. Praise has a two-fold objective: to bring joy and gladness to our Father and to silence the Accuser and be a witness to the Heavens. For that to be so, it must be verbalised! As long as it passes your lips in an audible manner, the quietest whisper can thunder across the Cosmos and change the course of that day. It can intimidate the armies of darkness and it can empower the armies of light.

My every verbal expression of love and gratitude to my Father destroys the lies and intents of my enemy (humiliates him) and causes celebration in the Heavenly hosts! And, most importantly, that whisper (or shout!) is heard by your own ears….and enters your heart…dispelling doubt and creating faith.

Scripture is adamant: for there to be a transaction in the Heavens, the word has to be in your heart (a sincere, authentic, conviction) and upon your lips (a faith-filled confession). Here are some scriptures to meditate upon…please take time to read them…the Word is creative. Don’t lose by default, empower your day and your future to be in harmony with Gods intention.

Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

Proverbs 12:14 A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth, and the recompense of a man’s hands will be rendered to him.

Deuteronomy 30:14 But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.

Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Isaiah 55:11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Woman reading her bible

Whatever We Do

Following the life and example of Jesus can be a hard act to follow. Or is it? Can we be so radically transformed by the goodness of God that whatever we do brings honour to the Father?

Colossians 3:17 says, And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

In this verse, I see two filters that should be applied to everything that we say and do. These two filters can be summed up in two statements. Firstly, it says, ‘do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus’. If we can’t apply Jesus’ Name (His reputation) to what we are about to say or do, then we shouldn’t say it or do it.

So, here’s the first statement that I find myself meditating on more and more: “If Jesus wouldn’t say it or do it, then I won’t say it or do it.” This is easy to say, but it is much more difficult to apply. We need the Holy Spirit to empower us. The good news is that He longs to do just that.

The second filter can be summed up in this very challenging statement: “If I can’t give thanks to God for what I am about to say or do, then I won’t say it or do it.” Everything that we say or do should be something that we believe Jesus would say or do, and something that we can give thanks to God for. You might be thinking, “But Steve, that’s too high a standard, and more than just a little too fanatical!”

Naturally speaking (and that is an important clarification), I agree. But we are not created and called to live by what we naturally think or what the world tells us is right and wrong! Let me put this thought and question to us all today: “If we think that comparing ourselves to Jesus is too high a standard, who do we compare ourselves to in order to get our standard validated?” Other people’s standards must never be the measure of my standards.

Jesus’ standards (evidenced by the life He lived) are to be the measure of my standards. And to do this, we need to care more about Father’s thoughts than people’s thoughts. If we are going to live like Jesus did, then we need to move past the fear of man. I am realising more and more, that the fear of man is not based on a guaranteed outcome. Many times, the fear that we have of other people’s opinions are not what they actually think. Therefore, the fear of man that is based on other people’s opinions is actually based on other people’s possible opinion.

And as I meditate on this, here’s what I felt prompted to write: “Other people’s possible opinions about me are nowhere near as important as Father’s stated thoughts about me!” Please read that again.

My friends, I want to see the grip of fear of what others may think be completely broken this year in all of our lives! May our confidence and security come from what Father has said about us! I want to leave you to meditate on these two statements and seek to apply them to all that you say and do:

“If Jesus wouldn’t say it or do it, then I won’t say it or do it.”

“If I can’t give thanks to God for what I am about to say or do, then I won’t say it or do it.”

May our lives, in whatever we do, bring glory to the Father.

Man on rocky cliff thinking about difficult decision

The Hard Decisions

There are times in our lives when we have to make some very difficult decisions. Sometimes, in obedience to a very clear word from the Lord, we have to make decisions that tug at our emotions and defy our logic.

The challenge in such times is to not to look at personalities and circumstances, or even the human evidences that present themselves. The very simple answer is that Father sees aspects of the future that we do not. He not only sees His intention for you but for each individual involved. It comes down to trust. There are times in all of our lives that we must simply trust the One who is directing our ways and to Whom we have given that unconditional right.

When our decisions (no matter how hard) are the fruit of obedience, there will always be an abundance of grace for each one affected by that decision. It has been truly wonderful for me to see the Grace-filled responses from people over decades now who have been confronted with the need for change that they could not at that time see the reason for. No bad attitudes, no reactions. Just a wonderful commitment to continue as true friends of Jesus and their brethren, trusting Fathers wisdom as He now writes a new chapter.

The truth is, that no one can take a step of faith and obedience without that step leading to a season of increased fruitfulness. That, I know, will be the outcome for each of you now in that moment of decision. We already celebrate with you in the anticipation of that which Father will now do for you.

My friends, I trust that this will encourage you to trust in the times of your difficult decisions.

One thing is totally predictable: Our Father is always motivated for our good and always working to a strategic plan to reveal His faithfulness to us. Let’s continue to trust Father in the midst of the hard decisions.