We try all sorts of ways to influence people. Influence is the name of the game in the church. If you haven’t realized it already, everyone is there voluntarily. We have no direct authority really. If you’re thinking, “Scripture gives me authority if I’m called to lead the church.” When someone doesn’t want to do what you’re wanting to do, try that line and let me know how it works out.

All real authority comes down to influence. It was an a-ha moment for me when I found the word for “obey” in the phrase “Obey your leaders” from Hebrews 13:17 is the Greek goddess of persuasion. The best I can do is persuade a person. I have no control over anyone. I can’t make any demands.

I love the passage in 2 Corinthians 8 where Paul is using the other churches as an example for what he hoped to see with their church. He said, “Entirely on their own” (vv3c-4) they begged to help out the other churches that were struggling. Wouldn’t that be a great problem to have? People pleading to give! The pivotal part is what he says next though.

Paul says, “And they did not do as we expected” in verse 5. That line is so encouraging. This is pastoring 101. If I would expect anyone to know this, it would be Paul. But he is acknowledging a sort of “V-8 moment”. I picture him knocking his palm to his forehead and saying, “Duh! Of course this should have been the first thing we ask them to do, but we didn’t think of it.” What was the first thing the people did that prompted them to act “entirely on their own”? They gave themselves to God.

Paul goes on in verse 5, “but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.” Why do I think this is so important? Because our work would be infinitely easier if we first persuaded people to give their heart, soul, mind, and strength to the Lord and then worked on the mission.

When we try to create movement in mission without first seeing people surrendered to the Lord, it’s like trying to drive the proverbial parked car. Yet I do it over and over again. I assume you have done it once or twice too.

What would happen if we used more and more of our influence to get people to give themselves to the Lord. If our people are surrendered to God, trusting in the Lord with all their heart, and in all their ways acknowledging him, I think the result will be not as we expected and be happily surprised at what they do entirely on their own.

Title Signature Screenshot Cartoon 2015