A question that has been coming up recently is, “Are you like… an influencer?” And I can’t help but chuckle a little bit every time because that is just not how I would ever classify myself. But here is the thing. At the end of the day, we are all influencing people in some way, shape or form. If you have breath in your lungs, you are an influencer. If you woke up today, you are an influencer. Because we impact people every single day through our words, our actions, and our presence. Whether that be negative or positive, we are still communicating something even if it is without words.
There will always be someone watching how you live your life. Someone watching to see how you are going to handle conflict. Someone watching to see how you are going to navigate through a situation. Someone watching how you are going to react. Especially with this day and age of social media, you have people who you will never even meet face to face watching how you move through your life. And you know what? I will be honest enough to say that is stressful as heck. I’ll admit it for all of us. Influence is an honor to carry, but it is scary in the seasons of transition and confusion. It is nerve-racking in the seasons of hurt and pain. It is weighty in the seasons of standing up for what is right. And because of this, I KNOW I am not the only one who has asked… What do you do when you know eyes are watching you? How do you handle this when you know eyes are watching you? How can I represent Jesus and what I stand for best while I know eyes are watching me?
Coming from an almost twenty-three year old girl who has been working in full-time ministry two and a half years and who has been in and out of two serious relationships throughout that time all while leading students with my job, managing a blog, writing a book, walking through hell (not a crude statement, but a literal statement) in my family, moving more time than I can count on two hands, having to have honest conversations with myself to take some steps back so I could move forward… Here is what I have learned. And you probably read that paragraph with wide eyes (or with judgement), either one is okay with me because I understand we are human. But I am here to set up a table of relatability between us. For the sole purpose of using my mistakes to help you not make them. For the sole purpose of using our ache as a stepping stool for the people we will meet. For the purpose of coming together and using what was meant for bad – and using it to the best of advantage in leading people towards wholeness.
Here are three things that I believe will impact and help shape your life if you let it:
1. Let’s Get Honest
One of the greatest, if not the greatest revelations I have ever had was this. You are only as usable as you are honest. (Ummm wow. Deep right?) You are only as influential as you are honest. You are only as trustworthy as you are honest. You are only as relatable as you are honest. If anyone gets it, I get it. It is SCARY to be honest and it is even scarier to be honest with people you don’t even know. I don’t know about you, but in my life when there have been times that I needed to be honest all of these questions flood my mind…
What are they going to think of me?
Does this make me look inconsistent because I made this mistake AGAIN?
Does this make it seem like I don’t hear God correctly because I took the wrong the step?
Is this going to hinder my effectiveness in what I want to communicate?
Are they still going to trust me after I confess this?
Why do these questions flood my mind? Because I am inherently human. And you are, too. And that is the beauty of it. We are all equally human and we are all trying to figure out which step is the right step. But you know what? More often than not, it takes the WRONG step for us to be led to the RIGHT step. People need people to be honest. You are not the only one who is experiencing what it is you are going through and there is someone who is desperate to know they aren’t alone. Let’s humble ourselves, suck up our pride, and stand in the gap for those people. As someone who carries influence or as someone who wants to carry a large influence one day, you have to start with honesty and authenticity. I had to learn that our honesty will not push away the people we are wanting to reach but our honesty will actually create a space that was safer than before.
2.We Need Eyes of Grace and Mercy
Your judgement doesn’t impress anybody other than Satan. Your hatred doesn’t impress anybody other than Satan. Your assumptions don’t impress anybody other than Satan. If that sounds harsh, I am glad it sounds harsh because in this area – harsh is what humans need. We are NOT better than anybody because we haven’t walked the same path as somebody. We are NOT better than anybody because we don’t agree how somebody has handled something we were not a part of. We are all 100% human. Instead of tapping our foot waiting for this person to make the wrong move so we can feel better about ourselves, how about we get off our high horse and go stand by them as a friend? Stand with them in prayer. Stand up FOR them to a world that is always shouting at us to fail.
We don’t know the backstory. Even with all the details in a story, we don’t know how someone felt in those details. We don’t know what the Lord was speaking to someone in those details. We just do not have the understanding of what goes on in someone’s life. Therefore, we CANNOT cast our judgement and hatred towards people that we only see through a screen. We need to see people through the eyes of Jesus. Through the eyes of grace and through the eyes of mercy. We cannot sit back and wait for people to fall. We cannot sit back and make our opinions loud when we see someone make a mistake. We have to have a heart check and remember where we come from. Remember the mistakes we have made. Remember the times we had to take a step back. Remember the times we made decisions that didn’t make ANY kind of logical sense, but we made those decisions because we felt the Lord leading us.
When we can look at people through the eyes of grace and mercy, two things will happen. One, you won’t find yourself offended when people put you down from your decisions because you already have grace-filled eyes for them. Two, people will notice that about you and they will wonder what the heck is going on and naturally, they will want to follow in those footsteps too. Because kindness is attractive in a world full of hate.
3.Our Audience is an Audience of One Before it is an Audience of Many
We want to be the best version of ourselves. We want to lead well. We want to share our best moments and make sure the people who are following us see that we have it “all together”. But here is the deal. We have nothing to prove to anybody on this Earth. And we do not owe anything to anybody. The only thing we owe to people is love. And that is enough. As you continue through life, there will be seasons where nobody is going to understand other than you. People won’t understand why you moved to that city. People won’t understand why you resigned from that job. People won’t understand why you ended that relationship. And like I said before, it’s the human natural response for people to judge you on these things they do not understand.
Which is why this needs to be instilled into our backbone. Before we can confidently lead others, we have to be confident enough in who we are to know that not everyone is going to understand our choices. It is our job to be obedient to God, FIRST. Not our followers. Not the people around us. And not even the people over us. But it is our job to have our hearts in the posture to hear from God, FIRST and to follow through in what He leads us to. Before seeking approval from those around us, before trying to put our best foot forward – we have to remember that our audience will be always be Him, first. And let me tell you something… this is a good thing. Because if we keep the Lord in front of us, we can always trust that we are on our way to something He made just for us. Even if people around you may not see it.
Leading can be scary. Having people watching you can be scary. Making the wrong move is humbling. Taking a step back seems humiliating. But people need honesty so they can have the freedom to be honest, too. At the end of the day let’s not forget we have influence but let’s also not dehumanize ourselves because of that, too. You aren’t supposed to always get it right. And if that has been a standard that has been placed on you, I’m sorry and it’s wrong. You have PERMISSION to not always get it right. But here’s the final thing I’ll say – you do not have permission to sit in a mess with refusal of trying. Get up. Be honest. And let’s use what we have learned for the benefit of others in leading them towards wholeness.