Influence is an extremely powerful commodity. Everyone is influenced by someone or something, and it can be for good or for bad. In many respects, to have influence is to have power.
With the rise of social media, it can now be your full-time paid professional job to be an Influencer. Companies pay you to post about their products, music, or charitable cause in the hope that this will influence your hundreds of thousands of social media followers to support it as well.
And it’s working. Companies and organisations are lining up to have their product endorsed and associated with that influencer’s brand. They can rank high in celebrity status, with their followers desperate to own that same pair of sneakers or use that same workout routine so that they can be just as fashionable, popular, cool, intelligent, beautiful, or successful as them.
People of true influence
But when I stop to think about the people who have influenced my life the most, it has definitely not been the person on my Instagram feed trying to get me to purchase a particular brand of mascara.
People of true influence have a much deeper connection that’s built through more than just some finely crafted words and a filtered image on a mobile screen.
The people who I admire and have changed my life for the better are the ones that I’ve had a personal relationship with and who have walked alongside me in my journey. They’re the ones who have seen my good and bad and ugly, and have still stuck around to give me advice and wisdom.
There are some common threads across these kinds of influencers that are a far cry from the tactics we see on social media, so without further ado, here are my three top tips for being a person of influence.
#1 Humility (don’t even try)
That’s right, it’s a complete paradox – to be a person of influence, don’t strive to be influential.
The people who have had the biggest impact on my life are not those who have actively sought fame or power or influence, but those who have humbly worked away in the background and served others.
One of my favourite books is “Anonymous: Jesus’ hidden years… and yours” by Alicia Britt Chloe. This book talks about the 30 years of Jesus’ life that aren’t recorded in the Bible before he was baptised and began his ministry, and how these seasons of anonymity are crucial for building good foundations for future seasons of leadership and influence.
After finishing this book, I’ve noticed this model countless times where it is often the people who, whether by choice or not, step back into an anonymous season and do this well with grace and humility, who are then propelled into a position of influence later on.
Without a foundation of humility behind them, the influence that they now have can go so badly wrong as it turns into a strive for power.
The biggest influencers in my life are also those who are good stewards of not only their time and resources, but good stewards of their gifts and skills.
Protecting, growing and looking after your gifts means intentionally investing in those areas and stepping back from others. You don’t have to be good at everything, but you can be amazing at one or two things.
That’s the beauty of the Body of Christ – we’ve all been given different gifts and a different part to play for the benefit of the whole.
This is something that I’m generally terrible at doing, as I love doing a bit of this and a bit of that, but the people I admire the most are those who know what their purpose is so they stay in their lane and they run their race well. They’re faithful with what God has given them and the task in their hands, and they don’t get distracted by someone else’s mission and try to do that instead.
And finally, integrity is perhaps the most important of all. As soon as you’re in any position of influence, people are watching you. They will take notice of everything you do and say, and if it doesn’t align with your values or what you’re preaching, they will catch you out and fast.
It’s here that we come back full circle to social media, as integrity and authenticity is perhaps one of the things that is missing most of all from this. As soon as all of your interactions are edited and filtered before posting for the world to see, it’s pretty easy to cover up certain things and hide behind a mask.
But when you’re interacting with people face-to-face, there’s nowhere to hide and people want to see the real you anyway, warts and all.
So be full of integrity – apologise when you’ve done something wrong, stick true to your values even when there’s pressure to swing the other way, don’t cut corners, and don’t treat people as pawns in a game for your own benefit.
Strive for godliness and the rest will follow
When it comes down to it, being a person of influence really is just about being a good person. Humility, stewardship and integrity aren’t exactly ground-breaking revelations; they’re qualities that everyone should seek after.
And maybe that’s the point – strive for godliness, and everything else will flow from that, including your influence.
Rebecca Howan is from Wellington, New Zealand, where she works as an Executive Assistant in the humanitarian sector. She worships and serves at The Salvation Army, and is passionate about music, travelling the world and building community.
You can read Rebecca’s previous columns at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/rebecca-howan.html