My friend George Barna once said, “Leadership is the ability to put the plans into practice, and to accomplish the specified objectives through the skillful management of people, time and tangible resources. A good leader is one who is able to motivate people; one who is capable of making good decisions, even under pressure or in conditions of uncertainty; one who can guide people through actions as well as words.” It matters who is leading and in which direction one is being led.
Among other things, Barna has sold more books based on survey research related to matters of faith than any author in American history. He has been hailed as “the most quoted person in the Christian Church today” and has been named by various media as one of the nation’s most influential Christian leaders. So, as I quote him today I do so along with many others in America. What he shares is critically important, especially with the current rate of data that is processed and consumed in our culture. I believe it is safe to say that we are all influenced in some way every waking moment.
In a 2017 study, my Barna found that the No. 1 influence in America today is movies… yes movies! Walt Disney once remarked, “Movies can and do have tremendous influence in shaping young lives in the realm of entertainment toward the ideals and objectives of normal adulthood.” American culture is being shaped by movies, followed closely by television, music, books, and the internet. The government came in sixth and family seventh. The church in America didn’t even make the top 20! Wow!
Think for a minute with me about our influence on others. Biblically speaking influence centers on Knowing and doing right… to be instructed to others. Teach: (lawmad) goad; diligently instruct after giving the law to Moses and having him instruct the people on how to live according to God’s Word.
It means to Diligently seek out … notice Deuteronomy 13:4 “ye shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. It means to Diligently keep … Deuteronomy 6:17 “ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his testimonies and his statutes, which he hath commanded thee.” It means to Diligently teach … Deuteronomy 6:7 “and thou shalt teach them diligently to thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thy riseth up.”
The greatest form of teaching I think is by example. Listen to 1 Corinthians 4:16 “Wherefore I beseech ye, be followers of me” May we each seek to effectively teach God’s Word with every opportunity that is made available to us.
It’s true that people will readily follow any example. Two men who worked for the gas company in New York City were reading the gas meters in the alley ways of the buildings. The younger of the two had been boasting about his ability to outrun his older co-worker, who was now in his early 40s. Accepting the challenge, he decided they should race back to the truck, which was parked at the other end of the block.
Both men broke into a all-out sprint down the long alley. While running neck-and-neck, the two men heard someone running right on their heels and breathing very hard. When they looked around, they were astonished to see a 75-year-old woman keeping up with them.
They immediately stopped and asked if she was all right and why she was running after them. She replied, “Well, while looking out my kitchen window I saw you two men reading my gas meter, then suddenly begin sprinting to the other end of the alley. I figured I had better give it all I’ve got to get out of here too!”
Jedidiah Morse, an historian of the American Revolution wrote, “To the kindly influence of Christianity, we owe that degree of civil freedom and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. All efforts made to destroy the foundations of our Holy Religion ultimately tend to the subversion also of our political freedom and happiness.
In proportion as the genuine effects of Christianity are diminished in any nation… in the same proportion will the people of that nation recede from the blessings of genuine freedom… Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present Republican forms of government and all the blessings which flow from them must fall with them.”
John C. Maxwell once said that leadership is not about titles, positions, or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another. It’s true that the fruit of our lives grows on the trees of others. We are all influencers to some degree, I suppose the question is, what kind of influence are we… good or bad?
This writer’s opinion is their own and not the opinion of this newspaper
Tim Throckmorton is the Midwest Director of Ministry for the Family Research Council. He can be reached at 740-935-1406