I Just Bought $50 worth of Embroidery Yarn

Have you ever bought something you don’t need because you felt obligation to the sales person? They spent so much time, and were so helpful. You don’t even know who they are and you make the purchase because you felt like you should. Maybe it’s even a friend who has home party showing Tupperware or make-up. How about the time you changed your opinion to match that of a fiery co-worker, or entire gaggle of opinionated friends or associates, only to walk away wondering why you didn’t stick up for your own beliefs? In any given situation one can either influence, or be influenced. You tell me.

I spent years and years being influenced. Through school, I took on beliefs, philosophies, political views, and even religious doctrines, of others without thoroughly educating myself on why I believed what I believed.

We all are influenced to some extent simply because we educate ourselves, by reading other people’s works, listening to teachers and professors, and parents. But at one point I became aware that I was influenced way more than I was influencing. I even noticed that I took on the mannerisms of people around me, the favorite buzz-word, the hair smoothing gesture, that particular vocal inflection, or even a stylized giggle!

Our life is an amalgamation of everything we absorb around us. Our styles reflect each tidbit we pick-up along life’s pathway. Even though we all search for our individuality, the things that make us unique, distinctive, and memorable, we still are a sum of all that has stimulated us throughout our lives. There is no escape. Many influences are healthy and good, but it is important to also become the energizer or motivator and not just the seduced and led. One can break the cycle and take a quantum leap into the revolutionary role of being the leader.

The highly successful leaders of the world are known as influencing everything around them. Anyone can revolutionize things around them. Being a leader hinges on several characteristics. The Bible gives a run-down of some of those when speaking of leadership in the church (1 Tim 3:1-7).

1. Be above reproach - Have credibility and integrity in all areas

2. Temperate - self-disciplined, controlled. Life should not be out of control, or full of chaos, negative or obsessive behavior patterns.

3. Hospitable – Be able to create a warm environment where your relationships can be for relationships can grow and be meaningful in the positive sense. Being a part of an “inner crowd” or clique does not create this hospitable atmosphere, rather an exclusivist one.

4. Be gentle & not quarrelsome - gentle with words, a controlled use of the tongue

5. Sensible – be levelheaded and wise. But don’t let your definition of being logical or sensible turn into an attitude that keeps you from stepping out and embracing new things.

6. Respectable – be decent and gain the respect of those around you.

A few additional characteristics I’ve noted by examining other highly successful influencers around me:

1. Confident – one of strong belief; having no uncertainty. In other words, full of faith; or what I imagine the word faithfull to mean.

2. Knowledgeable – continuing to expand their knowledge. They know what they know and yet are able to say when they don’t know. They rely on others around them for expertise they don’t have. They are ever-reaching to better themselves by expanding their knowledge.

3. Visionaries – having keen foresight; they think long-term and fashion their lives around the future, and letting each day be filled with things that will enable that future.

Now there are many influential people who do not have these characteristics. Their only followers are those whom they can intimidate, so they take great pains to surround themselves with those types of people. A good example is this behavior is with gangs, and with bullies. Their work is done through intimidation, dominance. Much of the time these sorts have great charisma that adds to the attraction for their followers. But that’s not the kind of influencing I would encourage anyone to embrace. One is a godly way to inspire others; the other is an ungodly manipulative, bullying style.

What do you believe? Are you an encourager or are you someone who actual de-motivates the ideas and hopes of those around you?

Here are some examples of negative “influencers:”

• Parents – did your parents (or even friends) ever dash your hopes for an idea you had? Maybe you wanted to go to school to be a doctor or lawyer or start your own business. Did someone say to “You can’t do that,” or did you hear the “you’re too stupid,” or “you don’t have what it takes to do that.” Maybe it was a simple “we can’t afford that” without giving or even examining the alternatives that might be available.

• Spouses – have you had a spouse that was too fearful to let you branch out and express yourself in a new manner? Maybe you wanted to go back to school, or start a small business, or hobby. Did you get shut-down?

• Teachers – “You’re not bright enough,” or “You should look at something less demanding for a career.”

• Friends – The teenage years are full of angst and problems as kids learn how to deal with peer pressure and how to socialize in a very inhospitable world. If you don't wear the right clothes, listen to the right music, or party with the right people, then you don't measure up. Kids learn to measure each other up and discard anyone not fitting in. Sad, but with a huge impact on all, though particularly on those tossed to the outskirts of teenage society.

• Yourself – Your “self-talk” is probably the most powerful influencer of all. Do you let yourself think that you can do whatever you put your mind to, or do you always find reasons why you can’t, or shouldn’t?

A Godly motivator will encourage those around them to acts of faith. They will influence people to good works, faithfulness, righteousness, and Godly behavior. Prayers will be full of God’s promises, blessings and faith. (Other people may use prayer as a tool to pass judgment.)

Do you pressure people out of intimidation and bullying instead of using the Godly characteristics spoken of in Timothy? Do your interactions with others bring pain, hurt, and offense to others? Are you limiting someone in a destiny that God has mapped out for him or her by speaking things that are not encouraging and of God’s word? Or are you seasoning your talk with mercy, grace, faith, and encouragement? Are you speaking life into yourself and others?

More importantly is the maturing of our leadership qualities and abilities. I want to lead and not be led; influence more and yet influenced by the right things and people.