I have come to believe that at its very core, leadership is about influence.  In their book, Building Leaders, Aubrey Malphurs and Will Mancini make this statement:  “Leaders are doers, and what they do is influence” (p.22).  Every leader I can think of, in the biblical narrative and in contemporary life, is a person who has influenced others.

Can you think of people who have had significant influence in your life?  Those individuals are examples of leaders.  They were instrumental in getting you to do something, believe something or go along with something.

Here’s the problem:  Not all influence is good.  Therefore, not all leaders are good leaders.

In the biblical narrative we have many examples of bad influence.  When David saw a woman bathing, he influenced “someone” to find out about her, then influenced “messengers” to go get her, and then influenced Bathsheba to commit adultery (II Samuel 24).  In that instance, David was a leader but not the kind of leader we aspire to be.

When I was nine years old, I remember walking home from school one day with a classmate of mine.  As we passed the grocery store I mentioned how I would really like a candy bar but  had no money.  Johnny (not his real name) stopped and began to lay out a plan for how the two of us could get a candy bar.  Within a matter of minutes we were heading home with a box of Milk Duds in hand, having just stolen the candy from the local store.  Johnny was a leader and I was a follower, but I was following a bad leader.  When I reached my house, I quickly buried the candy next to the maple tree in the front yard so that no one would find out.  When I walked in the front door, my father was standing there and although he knew nothing of my sin, I was sure that the whole world knew I was a criminal.  So, I spilled my guts.  My father walked me to the maple tree and told me to pick up the candy and to make my way to the grocery store.  He instructed me to find the manager, tell him what I had done and return the Milk Duds.  I did exactly as he told me, and I can assure you I never committed that sin again.  That’s not just influence, that’s good influence.  More than that, it’s influence that was leveraged.

I define leverage as the strategic use of influence, in the context of a loving and trusting relationship, for the purpose of moving a person deeper into the will and heart of God.

We need leaders who will invest in building relationships of love and trust with those around them, and who will leverage their influence in order to move people toward becoming fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.  After all, what good is influence if it is never leveraged for God’s eternal purposes?