The Law of Influence Part 1

Jacob and Rebekah Deceive – Genesis 25:29-34; 27:1-30

Influence can be both positive and negative. The Bible tells us that Jacob “influenced” the birth right away from his brother Esau, the oldest son. A little later, Rebekah helped Jacob to “influence” the best blessing out of his father, a boon intended for his brother. It took influence to bring both events to pass. A person can wield influence in many ways. Consider seven such methods, beginning with the worst:

  1. Force:  the use of physical strength to influence others.
  2. Intimidation: bullying others verbally or emotionally to get them to act against their will.
  3. Manipulation: coercing others to act, sometimes against their will.
  4. Exchange: giving something in order to receive from others (I scratch your back; you scratch mine).
  5. Persuasion: the use of verbal skills to move someone to action.
  6. Motivation: energizing others so that they want to act.
  7. Honor: communicating esteem to others by serving them, thus inspiring them to act.

Joshua Expands Reach – Numbers 14:6-9

Among the twelve spies who scouted out Canaan, only Joshua and Caleb believed that the Israelites could take the land. Joshua urged the people to move forward, but his influence alone couldn’t sway them. At this juncture of his life, Joshua had not matured into a place of great influence. Even though he was right, he couldn’t persuade the people to follow. They didn’t look to him; they followed the other ten spies.

Joshua’s success would eventually grow in proportion to his leadership, but he needed time to deepen his influence. Moses personally mentored him, and eventually Joshua became the obvious leader to take the Israelites into the Promised Land.

The Nature of Leadership

  1. Leadership is influence. 
    The true measure of leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less. Joshua came face-to-face with the true nature of leadership when he failed to influence the people to follow his lead. His position as tribal leader did nothing to help him influence others.
  2. Leaders do not possess influence in every area.
    Those selected to spy out the promised land were “every one a leader” (Num. 13:2). That means Joshua was a leader with some influence, but his influence apparently didn’t outweigh that of the other 10 leaders.
  3. Our influence is either positive or negative.
    If all 12 spies had given a good report of the Promised Land, the people of Israel likely would have obeyed God and crossed into the land. But influence is a two edged sword; it cuts both positively and negatively. The ten unfaithful tribal leaders used their influence to lead the people astray—a disaster for those leaders and for all of their followers.
  4. Faithful leaders use their influence to add value:
    Influencers who lead out of a desire to advance their own agendas manipulate the people for their own gain. That’s what the other ten spies did. Their fear prompted them to use their influence to frighten Israel. They lied, claiming the land “devours its inhabitants” (Num. 13:32). On the other hand, Joshua and Caleb desired to motivate their countrymen to do what would benefit everyone—always the agenda of great leaders.
  5. With influence comes responsibility.
    Maybe the ten unfaithful tribal leaders didn’t want to start a rebellion, yet that’s what they did. Following their negative report, the people sought to depose Moses and Aaron and return to Egypt. As a result, those ten leaders died of plague, and all their followers died in the desert.

Join me next time for The Law of Influence Part 2.