By Greg Johnson
Leadership expert John Maxwell says leadership is influence; nothing more, nothing less. I believe that to be true. As leaders, the ultimate test of leadership is followership. Social media has capitalized on this concept by giving us the opportunity to broadcast our every thought to all those within the sound of our voice, figuratively speaking. Twitter even uses the term – followers. Well, this morning, God asked me a question I was not prepared for – “Who are you following?”
I know I am constantly given the opportunity to exert influence on others. As a consultant, people pay me to have an opinion. The challenge in this is the more I believe my opinion matters, the more I desire to give it. Even as I write this blog, I am questioning my motives. How am I supposed to know when to speak and when to be silent? I know part of leadership means there are “God” appointed moments that are fashioned for me to share my thoughts, but I also know don’t live in an episode of Growing Pains, where the soft music starts playing behind me as my cue to tell you the moral of the story. (Watch an episode – it happens around the 23-minute mark in every show.) That would actually be a solution – my own “it’s time to give my opinion” theme music. But who cues that music – me or God? I am a mess.
Let me get to the point: I need to be less concerned about INFLUENCING and more concerned about being INFLUENCED. I am learning that as a Godly leader, my influence should only be pass-through, whether by word or example, which means my level of Godly influence is directly proportionate to my ability to yield to the voice of the Spirit in all things all the time. In fact, if I am not completely connected to the voice of the Spirit, my “wise” counsel to others could actually be diverting them from what God may actually want because it is my thought and not His. That is dangerous territory with heavy responsibility. So, here are some steps I am taking to be a better follower.
Stay connected. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray continually.” The thought behind this is to be in a constant attitude of prayer, ready to be interrupted on a moment’s notice by the voice of God. When Yvonne and I were dating, we would spend hours on the phone, sometimes falling asleep with the phone to our ear. I need to think of my prayer life as a phone call that never ends – a constant connection with the Creator. In Psalm 1, David says he meditates on the law of the Lord “day and night.” There was not a specific time he met with God. It was a constant connection. If I am constantly connected through prayer and the Word, I cannot help being influenced and transformed by God.
Talk Less. Listen more. James 1:19 says I should be “quick to listen and slow to speak.” I am realizing both are equally important, and the undergirding value in both is HUMILITY. I have to train myself in this concept: My opinion doesn’t matter. Let that sink in for a second. For a leader, that is hard to choke down, but it’s true. I have NOTHING of value to offer the world outside of God’s influence in my life. In fact, as I think about it, real wisdom is often displayed through restraint. As Proverbs 10:19 states, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” My translation: The more I talk, the odds are I will say something stupid or inappropriate. So, it is imperative I listen intently to the voice of the Spirit (which, by the way, is only discernible by practicing #1), listen to what is going on in the lives of those around me, and see if there is some sort of connection between the two. But the goal can’t be to seek that connection for the sake of giving good advice (cue the theme music). God may want me to be silent on an issue because He is dealing with the person directly in a way I can’t see. I don’t make that call. I just listen. And I can’t listen if I am talking.
Leaders can be difficult to lead. But I am learning the Godliest leaders are the most faithful followers. If I am not willing and determined to follow hard after God, listen for His voice and refrain from spouting off my opinion, I am putting a serious ceiling on my ability to lead. So, today I will seek to stay connected, talk less and listen more. What are your thoughts? Do you find this the norm or the exception in leaders today? I am now listening…
For more information about The David Project, please visit our web site at http://thedavidproject.com.