Three Sure Ways to Squander Your Influence

By Susie Hawkins

Our influence is temporary. It was given to us by God. It can be taken away. One day we will give an account for how we use it. — Andy Stanley

This blog series has looked at leadership principles and influence from different perspectives. As ministry wives, we have been entrusted with a platform of influence. One of our mantras has been to be purposeful when it comes to being an influencer. That means that we are aware of this holy call and work diligently to steward it well. Sometimes it is helpful to look at an issue from the flip side, however. How might we unknowingly (or knowingly) waste our opportunities for influence? Here are three sure ways to do just that.

Close ourselves off from people outside our own family and close friends.

Because of the demands of life and ministry, we may fall into neglecting to cultivate relationships with those outside of our immediate circle. Ironically, as our circle of acquaintances grows, often our inner circle can shrink. At best, this is unintentional and usually a result of busyness. At worst, though, it can be because we just really don’t care.

Pay attention to what is happening in your church family and community. One of the reasons God made social media (some would challenge that!) is that we can be aware of what is happening in others’ lives. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15). It takes so little to comment with an encouraging word, but it can carry such weight. Isolation never lends itself to effective leadership.

Yield to cynicism. Always be suspicious that people have an ulterior motive or intend to use you in some way.

Cynicism focuses on the worst in people, never the best. It is the ultimate joy destroyer. Yes, people may occasionally take advantage of us or even betray us in some way. Yes, many of our expectations of life and ministry have not been met at all. Welcome to adulthood, it happens to everyone, not just to those of us in ministry. The danger of cynicism is that the distrust we feel will lead directly to a default stance of always thinking the worst about people. Stephen Colbert observed, “Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it.” This doesn’t mean we should be naïve about human nature, but to remember Jesus’ words to “…be wise as serpents and gentle as doves” (Matt. 10:16).

Regularly hold “Poor Little Me” pity parties for all that you are not. Believe the lie that you are inadequate in every way.

Someone once said, “Self-pity tends to distort, like a fun-house mirror.” At its root, it posits that a mean God is intentionally withholding good from us. It is also the root of every other sin of self-indulgence! I personally have held some of the finest pity parties in world history but found them to be exhausting and completely worthless.

Andy’s quote above carries a sense of urgency. We don’t have time to waste. Jesus’ parable of the talents in Matthew 24 illustrates this principle. Whatever talents or opportunities you have been given, use them. Don’t squander God’s gift of influence.

What are other ways do we neglect or waste the platform God has given us?

Published March 4, 2016

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Susie Hawkins

Susie lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband OS Hawkins. She is the author of From One Ministry Wife to Another: Honest Conversations on Connections in Ministry. She has 2 daughters and 6 grandchildren, keeping her life full of craziness and joy.