Continuing Conversation on the Recipe for Influence
Doesn’t it feel good to be known by a lot of people? How many people attend your gatherings? How many people follow you on Twitter? I spoke to a young man in his mid-twenties just this week who had an abrupt awakening to the fact that he had many people who know him, but really no one who knows him well. Suddenly he felt very alone and desperate.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but the people who have many “influencees” may not tend to have the greatest influence. Certainly prominent authors like Max Lucado and Rick Warren have much influence from a distance, but their writing tends to influence those who have already been traveling the Christian road for some time. Their ideas also tend to be housed within a context of a Sunday School class or small group which gives that influence real life through the relationships and perspectives of others in the group. Yet it would come as little surprise that both Lucado and Warren have strong relationships of influence in their personal lives where they invest much time and energy into a small few.
The kind of relationships that are most likely to influence those who are not yet Christians are those of a more intimate and therefore time-intensive sort. Much has been written in recent years about the people in our communities (not just the postmodern ones) who are developing or already hold a very negative impression of those who call themselves Christian and attend church. It takes that strong and intimate relationship to give people the opportunity to develop new opinions based on those interactions. In many cases it may even be wise not to come out as a Christian too early in the relationship because that may even result in no further possibility of interaction.
Diverse social commitment may send unwanted messages to those with whom we attempt to have those relationships. It may says that there is not enough time for them, or that they are only one of many, thus eliminating some of the genuine feeling. It may serve to reinforce the image of “Christians” in minds that already distrusting. Influencing people cannot be kept like a scorecard and be effective.
Once again, this is not a scheme or a contrived way to create converts. However, in the spirit of the relationship of Peter and Cornelius, we seek relationship with others where we can both influence and be influenced. Jesus is most certainly the way, but he has sprinkled breadcrumbs along that same way that other people have picked up and may share with us in our journey together.
So continue your quest for more Facebook “friends,” but remember to pay special attention to the few where the investment can reap the long-term reward.
OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES: