3 Ways to Mature as an Effective Influencer (Part 1)

If I were to ask what the point of ministry is, what would you say?

Drawing people to Christ? Developing them as disciple-makers? Deploying them into service?

Albeit, these are all fine answers…but what if I told you we can sum up ministry in one word…

…influence.

Would you agree?

Regardless, the Word is clear our ministry emerges from our influence.

Consider 2 Corinthians 5:11

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.”

If you’re like me, you hear ‘persuade’ and immediately think ‘convince’; yet, when we dissect the Hebrew and extend it through v. 21, we find Paul is actually talking about influence.

Applying this filter, we can better understand how influence not only partners in God’s ministry of reconciliation, but matures our effectiveness as marketplace influencers.

Granted, there are many ways to broach the topic. For now, we’ll start with our usual ‘core three’ and work from there…

1. Know who you’re fearing

As mentioned, the bottom line of ministry is reconciliation achieved through influencing; however, to get there it’s important we grasp the fear of the Lord.

For while “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7), it’s also a preserver of our sincerity (Colossians 3:22) and a gateway to comfort in the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:31).

Note the latter reference:

So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.”

This tells me two things:

  1. Godly fear multiplies wisdom and virtue in addition to faith.
  2. The evidence of influence is peace inspired by encouragement.

Therefore, when we talk about influence, we’re not talking as much about personal strength as we are the maturation of corporate morale and pointing people in the direction of Jesus (more on this in future posts).

Contrarily, it’s important we understand what influence isn’t.

‘Cause while the key to influence is the fear of the Lord, the enemy will use the opposite spirit, the fear of man, along with memories of past hurt to contrive a narrative where we’re seeking to overcome what’s already been overcome.

Thankfully, as Kingdom agents…ministers of reconciliation who can persuade through the fear of the Lord…we can rhythmically resist this mindset whiling combating the compromised systems of the world.

For as long as there is sin, enterprise will be governed by hierarchy1 where people are bound by control, manipulation, and intimidation. Yet, as for you, you can see people as God sees them (i.e. forgiven) and help them find purpose through daily influencing where they are.

After all, freedom begets freedom…and He craves it more than you do.

2. Know how you’re leading

As effective influencers2, it’s imperative we not only have the right mindset towards people, but our work as well.

For starters, we must view our work as an opportunity to show people who they are as opposed to a stage to prove our self-worth. In this way, we not only invest trust in God being the one to open eyes, but free ourselves to influence through our wiring and discover new strengths through how God uses their responses.

‘Cause truth is: When we allow God into our realm of influence, we trade the pressure of of accomplishing goals for a humility motivating others to reach them.

But Cam…what if I’m not a team leader or in a place of authority?

Again, to answer this question…we must ask ourselves why we’re asking it.

For instance…

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If we’re talking about what we’ve been conditioned to believe…then authority is nothing more than the appointed person governing ‘over’ us; however, if we’re talking about absolute authority3, then we can see how a) God alone carries it…and b) what we often associate as ‘authority’ is, in fact, influence manifest through the seven motivational gifts (as outlined in Romans 12).

Again, the system…a real life Matrix if you will…runs by pecking order, production, and the Jerry Maguire mindset of ‘show me the money’, but…

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…as Kingdom influencers, we can approach metrics and outcomes without agenda by combining nurturing with our competence4.

Thus, whether you’re a supervisor in crunch time or a subordinate in training, you can help hold your team accountable to achieve certain goals in your respective roles. Just remember no matter what you do to galvanize effort, make sure it stems from a desire for everyone to succeed given a true influencer always values people over goals and never risks reaching them at the cost of another’s well-being.

For when we value people and decompartmentalize our desire to impact them, we not only influence a place where encouragement and goodness abound, but also where confidence and favor are ultimately shared.

Stay tuned next time when I’m unveil my third and final step to maturing as an effective influencer in the marketplace.

‘Til then if you have any questions, thoughts, concerns, feel free to leave them below in the ‘comments’ section and I’ll return serve as soon as I can.

Peace for your week,

~ Cameron

Footnotes

  1. As well as the idea leadership is greater than serving (contrary to Romans 12 which tells us each gift is equal and carries status and dignity)
  2. All influencers lead, but not all leaders influence
  3. Difference between authority and authorities
  4. A simple formula for adding value to your team members in a way they’ll turn to you for guidance and feedback

Cover photo creds: MikeLavere.com

Coping With the “Part-Time Perception”: Part 4

Last time, we talked about the third way a pastor can shatter the ‘part-time’ stereotype without compromise.

Today, we’re going to discuss strategies that can help a bivocational minister create an atmosphere of effective communication.

No matter what stage a ministry or church is in, one of the key common denominators to effective functionality is communication.

Without communication, even the grandest of visions ultimately fade.

I mean…think about it. Without dialogue…without intentional engagement both in-church and out, it’s only a matter of time before disconnection sets in.

Perhaps some of you know what it’s like to have a God-given dream loaded with potential turn into a pumpkin without warning or what it’s like to lead a group of people plagued by disunity. While experiences vary, chances are somewhere along the way…there was a communicational breakdown.

So clearly, communication is imperative when we talk about sustaining vision and maintaining mission.

And when we talk about a church mixed with full-time and part-time staff members, it’s fair to say the challenge only increases.

Consider the open road. We would all agree when it comes to driving on the interstate, the most ideal setup is all cars moving at the same rate of speed and direction. When everyone is driving in harmony, people arrive to their destinations on time.

untitled3However, when traffic enters the picture, everything changes. Imagine a three-lane interstate with a car accident blocking the left two lanes of traffic. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know this will slow things down due to bottlenecking. Suddenly, you have different lanes operating at different speeds, with cars in the far right hand lane moving fast initially, before having to slow down to allow traffic to merge from the left lanes.

It’s the same way with communication. When church leaders aren’t on the same page, when the vision isn’t being shared or communicated equally among its members, then functionality will become impaired…and a church’s effectiveness will slow down.

Let’s discuss some practical communicational strategies a bivocational minister (or any minister for that matter) can utilize.

* Listen & stay alert. Often times, information comes at us from multiple sources in multiple directions. And at times, it can be overwhelming trying to stay caught up to speed; however, if you want to become a better communicator, you must become a better listener. When you allow yourself to be the living embodiment of Matthew 11:15, you essentially increase your awareness.

* Establish a communicational pathway: Whether you work for an elder-run or pastor-led church, it’s essential to know not just how to communicate, but who to communicate to. By sticking to a set communicational roadmap, you enhance not only the communication itself, but also the accountability needed to see it through to fruition.

* Utilize multiple outlets. It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again. Learning to use websites and social media isn’t just a good idea; it’s a must. Nowadays, there are so many apps that can be tapped into for organization. As a bivocational leader, chances are you’re exposed to resources on a regular basis that your full time counterparts can benefit from. Take a look at the communication avenues you utilize for work and in your personal life – you may just find a diamond in the rough.

*Encourage, encourage, encourage. Regardless of your name or title, there’s never a bad time to encourage. Often times, encouragement is the best means of communication. I’m all about healthy project systems and living out efficient communicational strategies, but without encouragement, you risk diluting the vision.

*Stand at the door and knock. When you’re bivocational or part-time, being persistent in seeking out the information you need and making your voice heard will go a long way. By being faithful to speak up at the right times, you allow yourself to stay connected to the vision, while also inspiring others to stay engaged.

Setting Boundaries in Bivocational Ministry: Part 2

In part 1 of this series, we talked about the importance of intentional boundary-setting in ministry.

Today, we’re going to explore the difference between walls and boundaries…and begin an introductory discussion on how pastors can effectively establish these boundaries (whether personal, ethical or relational).

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Let’s face it: You like being a mystery…camouflaging into an absorbed agenda…hidden behind the veil of an appointed title.

I know I do.

Granted, there are times when a desire for transparency wins me over.

But for the most part, I like the security of knowing I’m not easily decipherable. Just being honest.

Now, irony aside, you can tell I’m being conspicuous about my preference of being the exact opposite.

Yet, chances are, you’ve read this mail before and would, thus, diagnosis this as a wall-setting mindset (as opposed to a boundary-setting one).

However, not all cases are so conveniently cracked.

Why? Because it can be very challenging to discern the right ministerial boundaries, especially in an entitled era saturated with accessible information and self-centered tendencies.

But before we get too deep on the grey side (cough, social media, cough) of the issue, let’s first define the difference between a wall and a boundary.

When we talk about a boundary, we’re talking about a necessary limitation as authorized by God for us to employ. For instance, a true boundary protects us from idolatry, poor time management and relational drama…just to name a few.

And while it may be easy to think of boundaries in terms of protection, I believe they’re better considered as a means of stewardship. As the Bible clearly states (1 Corinthians 4:2, Titus 1:7-9, Matthew 25:20-21), God desires us to be faithful stewards of the time and resources He’s given us. So as ministers, it’s important to be fair and consistent in unbiased service and attention. This doesn’t mean you treat every counseling appointment as a timed therapy session or keep a ledger on every encouraging word that comes out of your mouth. Fact is: some people require more energy and love than others…and that’s okay. At any rate, when we’re plugged into God’s input, we’ll find all the help we need to enforce the right checks at the right time.

On the flip side, when we talk about a wall, we’re talking about an unnecessary blockade, often initiated by a stronghold (whether fear, anger, bitterness, guilt, etc.). Ironically, with walls, many are set up to draw (pun intended) attention…to inspire someone to come along and make an attempt to climb them (hello, manipulation); however, the problem with walls is they don’t constructively confront the issue, but rather take people further away from where God intended them to be. With this in mind, it’s not hard to see how walls are manufactured means to self-protection and, thus, not authorized by God.

So clearly, the goal is to establish boundaries (not walls) around our personal, ethical and relational commitments. Fair enough, right?

Well, not so fast, young padawan.

Doing so requires strategy, not to mention a continued posture of submission.

As mentioned in my last post, valuing boundaries starts with valuing the ways of God. And while it may be hard for people to wrap their heads around what God did on the seventh day, it’s nevertheless an imperative part of the boundary-setting process.

district_5110_foundation_stewardship‘Cause truth is: once we start to embrace rest as a key essential in our daily lives (yes, I said “daily”), only then will we want to lay boundaries out of a place of stewardship, as opposed to fear; only then, will be begin to see how removing the walls in our lives can create the space and initiate the desire to better foster what God has given us.

So as you finish off the week, I encourage you to examine the walls in your life. Ask yourself: In what places of my heart are walls set up? What inspired them…and what steps do I need to take to conquer term? Also, in what ways can my boundary-setting be more defined?

Then, after asking the Lord to break off the walls in your life…invite Him to replace them with the appropriate boundary and strategy. If you need to reconcile? Do it. If you need to forgive someone who has wronged you? Do it. If you need take a leap and go out of your way to bless another through a random act of kindness or word of encouragement? Do it.

‘Cause at the end of the day, setting boundaries is all about making God’s priorities, your priorities…about making His the heart the one you want people to see.

So here’s to holy boundary-setting & cheers to the glorious journey ahead…

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