The Right Way to Influence Others
Influencing people does not mean controlling them. It does not mean forcing people to do something they don't want to do. Influence is the ability to get people to make their own decisions and plans based on how you have affected them.
It is getting someone to make up their own mind to do what you want them do based on what you do and say. There are right ways to influence people, and there are wrong ways to influence them.
What, then, are some guidelines for influencing others?
The word "influence" can be a noun or verb depending on how it is used in a sentence. Influence is a verb when it is an action performed. It is something that you do than has an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something. Influence is having the capacity to affect someone's beliefs or actions. It is the process of motivating someone to change something.
Influence is a noun when it is the person or thing doing the influencing. In other words, you are the influence when you cause others to change because of you and your example.
What should be considered is that influence is not always a positive one. People can be a bad influence just as easily as they can be a good influence.
Another thing to consider is that not every leader is automatically a good influence because he or she may not always influence in a positive way.
What the Bible Says About Influence
The Bible says we must be a good influence ourselves before we can influence others in a positive way. In other words, we must be a good example because someone has been a good example for us. Then as we live a righteous life, others follow our example because we have influenced them.
The Bible also says that the influence we have on others will be judged by God. Sin in our lives is serious. If we influence others to sin, it becomes even more serious. God is not pleased when we encourage others to sin by our example. Surely, we will be accountable for it.
In order not to be judged by God for influencing others negatively, we should evaluate how we are influencing members of our own families, friends, and co-workers. That means always being mindful of what we say and do because some people will imitate us without our knowledge.
Jesus gives an example of how to live as a good influence in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:16, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
Jesus Christ: Our Perfect Influence
Jesus is our perfect example when it comes to influencing people to make a change in their lives. He influenced ordinary fishermen to become His disciples. He said, "Come follow me" and they did.
He influenced Mary Magdalene, a demon-possessed woman. She was so grateful that she became one of His followers and supported His ministry financially. Jesus influenced hungry and tired people to listen to Him teach all day as evident by the feeding of the five thousand in Jewish territory and the feeding of the four thousand in Gentile territory.
Jesus influenced Zacchaeus, a tax-collector to make restitution to the people he had cheated out of their money. After His death, Jesus influenced Saul, a devout Jew to stop persecuting the Christians and begin preaching to them.
Jesus' influence did not stop with the people in the Bible. He continues to influence disciples of Christ today to live a righteous life by loving, giving and forgiving and following in other positive ways.
Summary About Influencing People
We can influence people by following Jesus' example. We must remember that we are held accountable and God will judge how we influence others. We should evaluate our influence on others by biblical standards. Finally, we should allow God to work through us to influence others.
The beauty of being a good influence is that while we are a good influence on others, they too may become a good influence on others as well. Then all of us will demonstrate Christlikeness.
Pastors, preachers, and teachers in the church should be a good influence on those they serve. Churches are popping up on almost every corner, and preachers are increasing by leaps and bounds. Hopefully, their goal is to change the world by their influence.