We have a tendency to think that power and influence go together or that they are identical. Or like some would say, “people of power have influence and people of influence have power.” But is this the case? The answer is no!
One Jewish Rabbi brought it out like this: “Imagine you have total power. Whatever you say, goes. Then one day you decide to share your power with nine others. You now have at best one-tenth of the power you had before. Now imagine that you have a certain measure of influence. Then you decide to share that influence with nine others whom you make your partners. You now have ten times the influence you had before, because instead of just you there are now ten people delivering the same message.”
We have the example of the Lord Jesus Christ who, although He was God in the flesh, put aside His divinity and became a man. He came into the world with no power, but with great influence. “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! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:6-9
The first coming of Jesus Christ into the world He came as a babe in a manger needing help to survive. He was not raised in an important city, nor attended a prestigious university, but instead He was brought up in an obscure village of no importance as far as the world was concerned. His only stand on the world stage was for 3 ½ years before He was crucified for going up against the religious and political system of His time. But like Dr. James Allan Francis said in his sermon: “He rises from the dead. Today we look back across nineteen hundred years and ask, what kind of trail has he left across the centuries? When we try to sum up his influence, all the armies that ever marched, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned are absolutely picayune (trivial or of little importance) in their influence on mankind compared with that one solitary life.”
Power works by division. Influence works by multiplication. In other words, the more power you share the less you have, but the more influence you share the more you have.
What did Jesus do? We read that Jesus spent the night in prayer and the next morning He called His followers and out of them He chose 12 whom He called Apostles. We read in John 20:22 “And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” One could say that He gave them His influence and they went forth and spread that influence.
The great need today is for visionary leaders of influence to be able to articulate the vision they have so that people can understand and identify with it, and then go forth and share those same ideals.
Not everybody has power, but we all have influence. Influence starts in the home with a father and mother upon their children. Influence does not come with titles, fashions, riches, etc., but with a willingness to listen, to teach and to treat other people’s views with respect even if we disagree. We need to keep in mind Luke 6:40 “Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.” We raise our disciple to the same level of influence that we have. We produce what we are. Of course, this can work both in a good as well as a bad way.
So, we as followers of Jesus Christ are to go forth and influence, “making disciples of all nations.”