How to be influential and worthy of followership 1

Can credibility and influence be learned like a skill? Many ministers of churches and managers of businesses seek ways to increase their ability to lead and influence. However, people do not follow because you possess an impressive title or because you exercise a potent leadership skill. They follow because they see in you a lifestyle that is based on the truth. People do not believe what you say yourself to be, but they believe when they see truth in action. The bible talks about truth expressed in the following habits:

Seek first to understand, then to be understood. James 1:19 says, “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak.” We all have tendencies to be too quick to draw conclusions and give advice. Our advice are colored by our own life stories and pet remedies. Active listening communicates love and empathy. Many are depressed because people don’t listen and empathize with one another enough. In this stressful and “to each his own” society, there is little true empathy among family members, colleagues and friends. There are abundance of talkers but no listeners or empathizers. In John 4:1-42, Jesus met a Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus empathized and identified with her pain and her broken past. Jesus did not condemn nor rebuke her, instead He appealed to her willingness to worship God in spirit and in truth.

Empathy extends beyond facts and logic into the emotions of the heart. Laws communicate principles and precepts without empathy. Jesus came to empathize and to experience the full spectrum of human life. The secret of Jesus’ success is His willingness to understand and to empathize. Empathy is the currency of influence. If people feel that we care and are willing to journey with them, then the more power we will have to influence them. Seeking first to understand is not a communication technique, but a trait that flows out from a person of love and character. If your conduct constantly shows kindness, being unassuming, non-judgmental, showing genuine interest in people, then people will feel safe with you and trust you. People are not so much convinced by what they hear from you, but they will believe what they observe in you. Sometimes it is better to just make understanding and empathy the goal without giving solutions to their problems until you are invited to do so. When you have sufficiently gained trust, then others will take off their mask and open themselves to you.

Whether as a businessman, a spouse, a parent or a minister, seeking first to understand, then to be understood is the single most important principle to build trust and networks that God can use to bless and touch lives.

Making promises and keeping them. This principle happens to be the quickest way to build credibility and also the fastest way to destroy one’s reputation when failing to deliver on the promises made. Faithfulness is the quality of making promises and keeping them. In Matthew 6, Jesus taught about the faithfulness of God in taking care of the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. Families and friendships are built on trust. Corporations and nations are built entirely on trust. In fact, the whole creation is sustained on the faithfulness of God. Every morning, we trust that the sun will rise the same way it has always done. In Deuteronomy 7:9, Moses urged the people to trust God,

“Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments.” (Deuteronomy 7:9)

A trustworthy person is one who makes promises and keeps them. He is reliable, and valued by all. He will be considered an influential person, a valuable asset to his organization. The words of a trustworthy person are powerful and effective. The beginning of leadership and influence is trustworthiness. Hence, it may be better to come across as less eager and helpful rather than being glib-tongued and unreliable.

Jesus kept his promise to the Father and did not look to His personal interests but remained faithful even unto death. For this reason God exalted Him and gave Him a name above every name (Philippians 2:9). The road to honor and glory is trustworthiness and delivering on every promise we have made whether great or small.

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