There is a world of difference between Power and influence. The desire to acquire Power can lead to a very slippery slope of destruction, arrogance and heartache. However, the Acquisition of Influence can lead to accomplishing one of the deepest longings of the human heart – the need to be Significant.
I find that the most influential people in the kingdom of God have a servant-heart mentality to everything they are and do. They seek to simply be the best people they can, aware of the needs of others and meeting them wherever possible. Such people are actually, in my experience, quite rare. They seek excellence, but not self-promotion. In doing so, they are able to impact others, and the world around them, in a highly significant way. In a time of endless attention-junkies, these are the ones who listen; who listen to you, without waiting for a gap in your conversation to tell you all about them. Their conversation and demeanour is all about YOU. If you ask them directly, they may tell you something of themselves, but in a real, gentle way, they are aware that when you tell them that you are “fine”, that actually you are anything but. They are the ones who will ask you again “How are you?”, and actually wait for an answer, and listen to how you respond. They will not be looking over your shoulder to find someone more interesting. They are the opposite of attention junkies, for they lavish their attention on you.
It does not have to take long in terms of time, but it takes everything in terms of willingness to concentrate on someone else. My husband is a great example of this. He is actually extremely competent in a number of specialised fields, yet always has time for others. He does not “lord it over” others, but rather tries to interact and connect with people wherever he goes. As an international businessman he comes into contact with people all over the world, in many different social strata. He is as comfortable with janitors as he is with Generals, and he treats both with respect – often to the astonishment of those concerned. But one of the things I love watching him do is talk to cashiers at Petrol Stations. He will go up to the cashier, and from my vantage point in the car, I start to count. I usually make it to about 5 or 6 before I see the cashier look up, and smile. I know that my husband has made a point of saying something good, specifically to them. He loves to treat people as human beings, and not just as some functionary.
He uses his influence in ways great and small. He never knows just how significant that can be in a world which seems to de-humanise people so much.
And that is because of something so fundamental, that we often miss it. You see, my husband is a Christian, and as such, that makes him a child of the King of Kings. He is a Prince in Gods Kingdom. He has not earned this right – it has been freely given to him. But he wears it well, and treats people well. He is, of course, human, too, and sometimes things go wrong , but he is also man enough to admit to mistakes quickly and openly, aiming to make restitution if needed as quickly as possible.
I strive for the ease with which he applies influence, for I am sure that he is not aware just how much he gives significance to others. But I honestly believe that the more we accept our status as royalty in God’s kingdom, that we will stop this endless drive towards power, and seek only to influence others for good.