POWER VERSUS INFLUENCE
Numbers 16:5-7 “Then he said to Korah and all his followers: “In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to him and who is holy, and he will have that person come near him. The man he chooses he will cause to come near him. You, Korah, and all your followers are to do this: Take censers and tomorrow put fire and incense in them before the Lord. The man the Lord chooses will be the one who is holy. You Levites have gone too far!”
In this incident we see a rebellion against Moses’ leadership. Korah, a Levite, was angry with Moses and a rebellion was formed that God put down by having the earth open and swallow Korah, his family and all of his followers. In this incident we see power being demonstrated through a miracle that took place. Too often we see this type of rebellion of frustrated ambition and petty jealousy in doing the will of God.
Moses’ reaction was to use power (by invoking a miracle) to put down the opposition and prove his own authenticity.
However, when Joshua came to Moses about some who were prophesying in the camp Moses’ response was different. He praised God by saying, “Might the Lord put His Spirit on all of the Lord’s people.”
In protest against the command of God through Moses, Korah said that all of the Lord’s people are holy, but in the case of Medad, Moses said that his preference would be that all of God’s people be prophets. (Numbers 11:26: “However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the Tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp.”)
What is the difference between the two statements? Jewish sages bring out an important truth that when Moses, by God’s choosing, takes Joshua to be leader in his place he brings him before Aaron and then two things take place. First, he lays his hands on Joshua and secondly he gives him some of his (Moses) splendor. Jewish sage brings out: “’Lay your hand on him’ – this is like lighting one light from another. ‘Give him some of your splendour’ – this is like pouring from one vessel to another.”
Jewish sage goes on to say: “There are two forms or dimensions of leadership. One is power, the other, influence. Often we confuse the two. After all, those who have power often have influence, and those who have influence have a certain kind of power. In fact, however, the two are quite different, even opposites.”
What is brought out here is that if you have total power and you share it with nine others you have one tenth of the power, but if you have influence and you share with nine others you do not have less, but even more. In other words, your influence has increased and spread.
When we look at Scripture we see men who had power – kings, etc. as well as men who had influence. Joseph had influence but Pharaoh had power. Daniel had influence but Nebuchadnezzar had power.
We also see the difference between kings and prophets. We see all that kings could do with their power, but prophets had no power, rather influence. I have been reading the prophets in the Old Testament who prophesied under the reign of so and so. The kings died and so did their power, but the prophets have a different legacy because their influence lives on.
We see this contrast with Jesus Himself. “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8
Johnny Cash, in his song called “HERE WAS A MAN” brings out the difference between power and influence. After he describes the earthly history of Christ and going to the cross he sings this:
“I think, I’m well within the mark when I say
That all of the armies that ever marched
All of the navies that ever sailed the seas
All of the legislative bodies that ever sat
And all of the kings that ever reigned
All of them put together have not affected
The life of man on this earth
So powerfully as that one solitary life.”
Here was a person of influence.
Keep in mind that when the person of power dies so does his power, but with influence this is different. Kingdom thinking will focus on seeing men/women raised up that will be great influencers wherever they are, be it in their jobs, professions, schools, governments and to the ends of the world.