Single Christian, who are you following these days? Not just on Face Book or Twitter, but in your life?
Followers follow someone who’s ahead of them leading, and there sure are “a lot” of leaders around these days!
Earlier this week, I was thinking about leaders and how there appear to be so many of them in our nation, and yet how few we really have. “Everybody” wants to be a leader, and there are self-touted as well as recognized leaders in every field, community, nation, and sphere of knowledge. There are also many types of leaders and leadership styles. For a succinct but easy-to-read review of types of power, click here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/six-types-power-leaders-john-prescott
So many leaders claim to be experts with extensive experience and special knowledge. Qualities like these are considered important in being recognized as an expert who deserves to be a leader.
In 2008, Malcolm Gladwell published a New York Times bestseller, Outliers. Based primarily on the research of Anders Ericsson, he postulated that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice (his timeline for deliberate practice: 90 minutes a day, every day, for 20 years) makes one an expert.
Who knows that experts and leaders aren’t always right? Didn’t some expert somewhere claim that the Titanic was unsinkable? I love Nicholas Murray Butler’s definition of an expert: “An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing!” For an amusing review of predictions by experts who turned out to be totally wrong, click here: http://listverse.com/2007/10/28/top-30-failed-technology-predictions/
Being a leader inherently comes with responsibility, a responsibility for others and a responsibility to others. The Bible teaches that those in positions of authority and influence are directly responsible to Him for how they use or abuse their power, Daniel chapter 4 and Revelation 20:11-13. He holds spiritual leaders such as pastors to the highest standards of integrity and accountability. He is harsh on them because they either represent or misrepresent Him to the world as well as to His own people; see Proverbs 16:12 & 29:12, Jeremiah 14:14-16 & 23:1-4, Ezekiel 14:1-16:63 & 34:1-8, Hosea 4:6, Matthew 23:1-39, 1 Peter 5:1-14.
Many recognize the responsibilities and the visibility of a leader and, absolutely, they do not want that responsibility. They enjoy privacy and the uncomplicated life. They don’t want to be seen and known, dirty laundry and all. Others crave that high level of visibility and they’re not afraid of the responsibility.
The really bad ones only want the power, influence, high visibility, and the attention of being a leader; they have no intention of being responsible to others or for others. They just want what they want, when they want it, based purely on their hidden agenda of fleshly desires. Eventually those bad apples get weeded out by exposure, but sometimes it does take a very long time.
I remember once long ago I inadvertently found myself in a love triangle at church. A woman I’d looked up to, who I thought was a spiritual peer and leader, liked a man whom I discovered actually liked me. I made it very clear to her that I was not interested in this guy if for no other reason than I respected our friendship, but I really was not interested in this man. Her insecurities and jealousy provoked her to alienate me from our mutual friends through gossip, slander, catty digs, and ignorant malice. Formerly mutual friends and even other leaders came at me with harsh accusations and projected her issues onto me. The spell was only broken when she publicly proclaimed that she was called to minister in the same country this man had ministered in, only to have him announce weeks later that he felt led to go to a completely different country. It took about 3 years for most of these mutual friends and leaders to come to me individually and ask for forgiveness, which I gave abundantly.
These mutual friends and leaders were unable to discern the source of negative, untruthful, and unhealthy influences in their lives until she was busted. I have observed since then that this is a very common occurrence in the body of Christ. It’s rampant in the Christian singles scene as people vie for power and positions, and it’s totally not necessary.
These negative, untruthful, and unhealthy persons seek to influence you, the follower of Christ who is single, so they can get their own negative, untruthful, unhealthy, inordinate, and illegitimate needs met.
All of these types of power and various leaders exert influence on you, Christ’s single. Can you identify the various types of power—influence—around you and in your life? How can you tell who’s a good influence and who’s not?
Does it even matter to you? Why or why not?
One of the many spheres of human existence that we are called to be good managers of is what or who influences us, Proverbs 4:23. It should matter to us, who we let influence us.
Whoever influences us has power over us. Whoever has power over us can control or, at least redirect, our hearts, minds, and destinies because they influence our knowledge base, our values, our motives, our emotions, our decisions, and our behavior. Ultimately, what we say and do has an impact somewhere in the kingdom of God. Always keep in mind that the enemy of our souls seeks actively to disrupt and destroy any righteous impact we might have on others in the kingdom of God, John 10:10.
I’ve quoted this poem before, but it bears repeating today in light of the power of influences.
Sow a thought, reap an act;
Sow an act, reap a habit;
Sow a habit, reap a character;
Sow a character, reap a destiny.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Again, I ask: who has the most influence on you, both good and bad? How can you tell what sort of influence they have on you?
One of the best ways to tell if their influence is good, godly, positive, and healthy is to look for the type of fruit they produce in your life. What are they sowing into your soul?
Do they encourage you to become more authentic, loving, truthful, and Christlike (Hebrews 10:24)? Even if you do not personally like someone, if they encourage you toward being more authentic, loving, truthful, and Christlike—even if your reactions are not any of these—they have a legitimate influence in your life.
Look at the orchard of your life and see who is sowing good seed and good fruit, and who is sowing weeds and bad, rotten, ungodly, spiritually stinky fruit. It doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. It may simply mean that you may have to learn how to limit their power in your life by setting boundaries with those who sow unrighteous fruit into your soul. For my take on boundaries, please see my blog post from 5/22/16, “__ __ U __ __ __ __ __ __ __ : Can’t Spell This Without You.”
Don’t let God’s enemy, who is automatically your enemy, lull you into destructive disobedience with his lies and influence. Learn to discern instead of being gullible and easily persuaded by every new piece of information and teaching (Ephesians 4:14-15). Learn to pray out ungodly leaders with their carnal power and negative influences. And just because they say they are a leader, or others consider them a leader, doesn’t mean you need them in your life, or that you need to accept everything they have to say.
Learn to cultivate righteous and legitimate influence and power into your soul. Learn not just to let the right leaders influence you, learn to actively follow the right leaders. If they are following Christ, if they can honestly and righteously say, “Follow me as I follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 4:16 & 11:1), follow them.
Christ’s Single, who are you following?
Eveleth, Rose. Why experts are almost always wrong. Article for online Smithsonian magazine. 7/31/12. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/why-experts-are-almost-always-wrong-9997024/?no-ist accessed 9/17/16
Listverse staff. Top 30 failed technology predictions. Article for Listverse.com 10/28/07.
http://listverse.com/2007/10/28/top-30-failed-technology-predictions/ accessed 9/17/16.
Prescott, John. 6 types of power for leaders. Article in LinkedIn.com 8/23/15.
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/six-types-power-leaders-john-prescott accessed 9/17/16
Raza, Ahmen. 12 different types of leadership styles. Article for Wisetoast.com 11/3/15.
http://wisetoast.com/12-different-types-of-leadership-styles/ accessed 9/17/16.