Are you killing your influence in 1 of these 5 ways?

Everyone wants influence.

You don’t think so? Go with me for a moment. Whether it is influence in a child’s life, influence in an organization we joined, influence over your own health, influence on an issue of grave concern, or just influence in your conversation with a customer service agent, we all want influence. We want to be able to move something from where it is to where it should be–spiritually, relationally, culturally, politically, organizationally, or physically.

And yet, we can do things that minimize or even kill our influence. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about things we do or say, attitudes we foster, or postures we take which makes us less able to move something we deem important from where it is to where we think it should be.

We can kill our influence.

The polarizing, political conflicts of late evidence our diminishing powers of influence, but I could just as easily refer to ways we lessen our influence in the lives of our youth, the spiritual journey of our friends, and even our own personal growth.

Here are 5 ways we kill our influence.

  1. We don’t slow down to let people catch up. Sometimes we get so excited about a good idea that we fail to help people process and move along at the pace appropriate to them. How many parents have been frustrated with the slowness of a child’s development and given up trying? Patience!
  2. We are more concerned about getting our own point across than we are hearing where others are struggling. Someone is conflicted over an idea, or reacting because of the inherent personal implications, but instead of teasing out their questions, we get preachy and overbearing. Without empathy, influence wanes. Listen!
  3. We get defensive when people question our actions or ideas, becoming reactive instead of helpful. Because polarized argument has hit the mainstream in a profound way, we seem less willing to engage disagreements at the level of ideas–we feel attacked and return the favour with force. Peace!
  4. We consider certain people unworthy of our respect, reducing them to mocking derision. So much of this is happening, I don’t even know where to start. People who boldly claim to follow Jesus Christ will say the nastiest things about others, bringing shame on their Saviour (Here’s a related post on Christians behaving badly online). The lack of respect and the degrading of dignity means we’ve already lost our influence (as well as our own dignity). Battle lines get drawn, wars ensue, and nobody moves. Respect!
  5. We lack the humility needed to influence others, exuding instead an ultra-confidence (which we may not even have!) that our position or thought or perspective is the only right one possible.  Is it? Really? You’ve got it all figure out and don’t have anything left to learn from others, even those you may disagree with? Humility.

So how are you killing your influence?

We all want to move ideas and people toward something better, but we can kill our influence if we won’t wait and listen, calmly and with respect, knowing that we are also growing and learning, along with everyone else.


6 thoughts on “Are you killing your influence in 1 of these 5 ways?”

  1. Well the saying “Silence is Golden” comes to mind on one of your points… but the Lord says in Matthew 12:36. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment…. That can “Wake” me up! When your hurt easy or had an upbringing with angry words thrown all over the house for years by both parents, it sure influences things. One thing I’ve learned that if I do recognize any word or bad influence in my life…. I have to Repent…. Right away and Change my actions…

    The Peacemaking almost ties in with the Influence I see Tom. Great “Wake up’s” your sending us and Great “Influence’s” your Teaching us!!! Thank you!

  2. I sadly feel that my influence is a problem when I would rather not speak at all and avoidance and fear keep me hidden. Some things don’t overcome so easily, but… I’m happy that God is using me to be a Mother, Caretaker and Servant to family that needs help, and that they feel safe and are protected. Also, that I can tell them about Jesus in the home.

  3. Oh, Tom! This is sooo timely! I have been overwhelmed with folks ‘pushing’ their ideas in my face, even when I do not engage them in the topic. They simply stampede into me with ‘how it is’ as if their views override any calm rational discussion. You have hit the nail ion the head with this article, Tom! I cannot THANK YOU enough!

  4. BTW, I was just on holiday in the states (where I was raised – I KNOW the ‘climate’). I interacted with literally multi-tens of thousands of people… and that is an under-evaluation. Airports from one end of the country to another (one ‘political atmosphere’ to another), restaurants and LARGE populated areas of entertainment… NOT ONE person spoke on politics. It was calm and everyone was just coming and going, enjoying conversation and the people around them. It was NOT the insanity portrayed on T.V. It was beautiful and lovely. I come back home to Canada, and folks here are so wrapped-up in their ideas of what is ‘real’ in the States, but I know I cannot engage them in true open discussion because of their belligerence. It is truly sad. PATIENCE, LISTEN, PEACE, RESPECT & HUMILITY. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your insight, Diana. I’m glad you chimed in. I wonder what accounts for the difference between how we “think” of what’s going on, and what is actually (as you experienced it) going on? Having also just returned from a week in the US, I did hear many conversations related to the political realities, and yet it was done in humble yet honest ways.

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