Leading an Influential Life
Today, CrossChurchSchool.com welcomes guest writer, Caitlin Way. Caitlin is a Resident Minister in the Cross Church School of Ministry serving in the Espanol Ministry, Springdale Campus. She is from Cabot, Arkansas and studied at the University of Arkansas.
When I think of leaders in my life, I think of two groups of people. Firstly, I think of a group of people who are in an appointed leadership role, like Dr. Jeff Crawford and pastor Pablo Daut, or a senator, or CEOs. They move large groups of people toward a common goal each week, day-in and day-out and they make it look like a piece of cake. I believe it’s because it’s in their DNA to lead. The second group of people are the unintentional leaders. They don’t know it necessarily, but they have quite an impact on my life and those around them. In this group, I’d include people like my fellow School of Ministry friends, my roommate from Ethiopia, and Mrs. Judy, a 70 year-old lady who I met at Sam’s a few months ago, but we still keep tabs on each other and meet up to pray together almost weekly. This group could be called the “every-day-influencers” because they challenge me to level-up in everyday scenarios. They lead by example in areas of life that are relatable to mine. In some situations, you might say that I have been led more often by an every-day-influencer than an elected leader just based on how comfortable, trusting, and close I have been with them.
Whether appointed or unintentionally, leadership- in my opinion- comes down to your ability to influence. If you can connect and relate to people in a real way, they will see themselves in you. Then hopefully, they strive to be their better self because of it. This could be something as small as starting to make your bed in the morning every day because someone said it was the best way to gain self-control, to getting in the habit of reading a book per month, or maybe even joining a church because of the leaders there.
I don’t think someone’s leadership influence is something that is necessarily quantifiable, but there are some recurring characteristics that I’ve noticed in all of the major influencers in my life. Influencers have a way of being transparent that creates trust and relatability. Being transparent comes down to peeling back some layers so people can see the real you that’s a little rough around the edges, and not just the picture-perfect version. When you can share personal stories or empathize about tough situations, the walls start coming down in the other person and you’re able to learn more about them in order to lead them in the way they need to be led. Effective influencers are also very emotionally and spiritually aligned. If you aren’t aware of your raw self and deep, deep, (deep) dark parts of yourself, how do you hope to help others discover those things? When you cut out the habits that aren’t “you” or don’t serve you in anyway, you are able to be an authentic and stable person to consult. Lastly, a characteristic that all my influencers have is positivity. When I think of the motivation and encouragement I have received from the leaders in my life, I think of the conversations that redirected my negative mindsets towards a hopeful future- and lots of, “You can do its and “God will take care of its.” I can’t imagine following in the steps of a pessimistic person who didn’t really even believe in the best for themselves, let alone for others.
The coolest part about influence is that it is contagious. Once a person learns from their influencer and grows in their own life, they might become an influence for someone in their circle, and so on. Our goal should to be more transparent, emotionally/spiritually aware, and a flowing source of positivity for the next leader who has yet to arise around us.