Influence and Responsibility

Anything that is valuable is undoubtedly counterfeited. Money, autographs, purses, shoes, cigars, sports memorabilia, clothes, antiques, and on and on it goes. People seem to have a propensity to desire possessing “success” or influence or whatever they think people will envy without actually paying the price of ownership.

This is a truism of life. People in general want to find ways to have privilege without responsibility. This is at the core of entitlement, and history bears out that it never ends well when people get privilege without responsibility.

There is something about responsibility that helps privilege succeed. Earning the money you spend makes it more valuable. Think about the train wreck of kids whose parents are wealthy and they wind up inheriting large amounts of money without earning it. This is the “trust fund kid” who parties the money away without concern for what it costs to spend the money that way.

This reality bears out in leadership, as well. I have the amazing privilege of visiting with young leaders who are hungry for influence. They believe they have a lot to say to the world and they can’t figure out why the world doesn’t listen to them. There is a reason why these young leaders get lost in their own world and bail out before real influence can take root.

The reason is that they haven’t actually done anything yet.

Everything that they say may be totally accurate, but without the proof of execution, their ideas are simply noise in an already loud information age. So here are some ideas to help with gaining a real voice in the world of influence.

  • Gain a depth of information. I am a pastor. I believe most young guys have 15–20 really good sermons to preach to the world. I think all of us can come up with that many. The problem is when we realize that this amount of content isn’t even half a year of material. Sermons come around every seven days — 52 in a year. The difference between just saying something and having something to say is in who is willing to put in the work to continually deepen their knowledge and expertise on a topic.
  • Always stay curious. Many people want to be heard. Very few people will stay in the position of a learner. Rick Warren says when you stop learning, you stop leading. I have seen too many pseudo-leaders who have stopped growing because they believe they have learned enough. This is a real influence killer over time.
  • Work for free. Give your energy to add value in the lives of others. If your content is as good as you think, people will be willing to pay for it over time.
  • Above all, be patient. Influence is a gift from God. Be faithful in your current world. Do what you are already doing to the very best of your ability. Influence and opportunity will come with time.

For all the young or new leaders out there, be willing to earn your way. Model what you say, don’t just say it. Be the real thing, not just a talker. This will be the difference over time between those who will be heard and those who fall into the background of noise.

May you be a person who practices what you preach. May you always be the real thing, inside and out. May you line up your stated values and your actual values. And may you be faithful and incredibly thankful for all the influence you have.