Remember the commercial, “When E.F. Hutton speaks, people listen?” That is the ultimate of influence. Henry George said, “Let no man imagine that he has no influence.” Perhaps you have noticed that people influence others everyday. Even introverts will influence approximately 10,000 people in an average lifetime. We do it intentionally and we do it accidentally. Take a look at some ways we influence others.
Influencing others by use of force is the lowest form of influence. While it is animalistic in nature, humans use force all the time to get others to do what they want. In fact, this is one method utilized not only between individuals, but between nations. When we choose to use force we push others to do something against their will. People use force when they don’t feel they have time for reasoning. They want something and are willing to pay the price of several relationships to get it.
Influencing others through intimidation is little better than using force. The motive of the follower is the fear of conflict. They simply want to avoid danger and confrontation. Often, people use this kind of influence and are unaware of it. The person who intimidates is usually short on patience and relationships. Frequently, they intimidate because they are insecure and are many times intimidated themselves. Intimidation is often the quickest way to get results. Everyone hops when you say jump. However, this method is short lived. No healthy person can stay in this environment very long.
Influencing others through manipulation is just slightly better, but still involves taking the low road. With manipulations, people technically get to choose their involvement but still don’t win. Eventually, people feel resentment over the conditions in which they must work. They begin to play the role of a victim, and steal the time, and resources believing they deserve them since they have been treated so poorly. Instead of going the “extra mile” they cheat their way along the first mile.
Influencing others through exchange is neutral. The previous means of influence have been temporarily productive but unhealthy. Now, for the first time there is no hidden agenda. There is no need for damage control. It is simply, “I’ll scratch your back and you can scratch mine.” That is what exchange is all about. It is give and take. Millions go to work each day not because their boss is motivational or encouraging, but because he has promised them a pay check at the end of the month. This kind of influence keeps score and is aware of whose turn it is to give. Influencing through exchange is fair and just. Everyone wins to a degree but only one person gets a better exchange somewhere else. It is ultimately self-serving.
Influence through persuasion is moving in the right direction. This is positive influence. Different from manipulation and intimidation the persuaded see the benefits. It may take considerable time to persuade, the one influenced are not forced to act, they become hungry to act. The influenced don’t have to do a thing, they want to. Persuasion literally means: “through sweetness.” When a person is persuaded, they have engaged their entire soul, mind, will, and emotions. So it is with the heart of man. Solomon said, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:5).
From a purely human stand point motivation is the highest form of influence. It has been said that people are naturally motivated, but as we age, we become de-motivated. We need someone to help us tap into that inner yearning to do something significant. Sometimes we simply need help to get up and go. Action becomes the result of inward desire plus outward stimulation. Many times the outward stimulation, information, is not new. It simply storms the will. For example, when a husband says “I love you” to his wife, it is not new information but it is motivating her. Why? The message engages her soul with words she needs and wants to hear. The word motivate is taken from the same root as movement. We are moved when one speaks to our inward needs. We are moved when one speaks to our inward interests. We are motivated when one speaks to our inward concerns. Those inward concerns may be things about which we are fearful or about which we care deeply.
We will influence others. That none can deny. The question is, how do we influence them? Which of the above means of influencing others describes you? Which is the most natural for you? What kind of influencer do you want to be? Ask yourself, “Why do I want to influence people?’ “How do I influence people?” “How can I increase my influence?” Regardless of how we influence it must be so that “others see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Ultimately influence is about leading others to Christ. That cannot be accomplished by force, intimidation, nor by manipulations. It can be accomplished by persuasion and motivation.
Spirituality is the highest form of influence in the church. Not everyone has it. It is influence derived from long hours communicating with God by reading his word and prayer. Such influence is not dependent on eloquence. It is not dependent upon being tall and rugged, just ask David. It is not dependent on having a brilliant mind, ask Peter. When a person has spirituality people act knowing they are having fellowship with someone better than themselves. The influence, in fact, can be frightening to the person possessing spirituality. That person does not want to abuse his/ her influence. Our Lord knows the power of a spiritual life can been trusted only to one conformed to His image. That transformation changes one from a boss to a humble servant.
By Rickie Jenkins