What is real influence?

It’s been a slow week here at jeffgissing.com. My family is in San Diego enjoying some vacation time and celebrating the wedding of my brother-in-law. It has been a fun week–Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo, the Science Museum!

This week I’ve been reading Mel Lawrenz’s Spiritual Influence: The Hidden Power behind Leadership. It’s a great book and is helping me get to the heart of what ministry leadership is–something that I explored last week in a couple of posts. Ministry leadership is, in its essence, a function of discipleship. If a leader is not a disciple, her leadership rests on sand rather than bedrock.

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Here’s how Lawrenz puts it:

“[Great Christian leaders] know that they’re not the real influencers, but that they are being used by God, who brings enduring, transforming influence in peoples’ lives.”

He later writes:

“Leadership that is entirely self-directed [as opposed to God-directed] will always be pathological….spiritual leadership is an extension of discipleship.”

Most of us are prone to excess in this area.

We either think that ‘leadership’ is a bad thing and we avoid it or we valorize it. The problem with this approach is, of course, that Scripture bears testimony to the importance of using one’s spiritual gifts for the purpose of edifying and building up the body in ways that specifically employ our gifts.

On the other hand, many of us go further than Scripture to become obsessed with leadership. As Lawrenz points out in his book, there is no generic term in Scripture for leadership. Leadership is ever and always linked to participation in the mission of God in a specific and concrete way. Leadership is not abstract and ephemeral, it is concrete and involved getting your hands dirty in mission.