Monday, February 8, 2010


“Intentionality makes the difference between mere influence and leadership. For our influence to become leadership, we must be intentional about whom we will use it to serve.”

You know that one of the two main focuses of our ministry is developing the Christian leadership and character of the people who participate in our programs.  Note the careful wording:  we’re developing it, not creating it.  You already have it.  God has given you opportunities for leadership through your specific capacity to shape your culture and the people around you.  We want to help develop that leadership and character by identifying the influence you have, and by focusing on the choices you make about how you will use it. 

If we define influence as our capacity to shape our culture and the people around us, then what we choose to use that influence for is of eternal consequence.  It matters enormously!  Personal leadership development is therefore a mater of stewardship, because it involves the management of a resource entrusted to us by God.

The development of Christian leadership and character begins with an active choice to look for and identify the opportunities we have for influence among those whose paths God has crossed with ours.  Failing to look, and thereby choosing to remain ignorant of the resources we’ve been given, is poor stewardship. 

But we have a second choice to make.  Once we recognize that we have been given some capacity to shape our culture, we must choose what to do with that capacity.  We must choose whether we will embrace those opportunities to serve God and others, or use them to serve ourselves.  This, of course, is also a matter of stewardship. 

You might recall that we discussed this concept on the very first day you were with us at your orientation picnic.  That evening, we highlighted the fact that your effectiveness in leadership would be directly tied to how you answered the question of who you were going to serve.  In the same way that the nation of Israel was admonished to “choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15), we told you that you that you would need to choose, in advance, what you wanted to do with your influence before you discovered that you had it, because the default choice would be to use it to serve yourself.

Intentionality makes the difference between mere influence and leadership.  For our influence to become leadership, we must be intentional about whom we will use it to serve.

Leadership, stewardship and servanthood are inseparable.  Develop one and you’ll develop the others.

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the story of three servants who had been entrusted with some property by their master.  Two of them were intentional about what they did with that property, and so increased their master’s profit.  The third was not intentional with what had been entrusted to him.  He therefore did nothing to increase his master’s holdings.

Two things about this parable are especially significant to me:  First, it was the servant who had been given the smallest amount of influence over his master’s fortune that was the least intentional in what he did with it.  Perhaps he considered what he had been given to be insignificant.  Or perhaps he didn’t think he was qualified to do anything significant with it, and so he neglected to develop the potential he had been given.  Either way, it was his poor stewardship of this seemingly meager resource that drew his master’s ire.  He was referred to as wicked, lazy and worthless.

The second thing that I find significant is how the master responded to the others:  “'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'” (vv 21, 23.)  It is almost as though the master was testing their worth with this small task in order to prepare them for a greater one.

We may never be given greater influence as long as we believe that the influence we have right now is insignificant.  The Master wants us to be intentional with how we use what He has already given us.

God has given CTI influence among young musicians.  Music is the common ground that brings us together, but the more important thing is what we do once we’re gathered.  We have intentionally chosen to use that influence – the environment provided by this community that God has drawn together – as more than just a way to minister to others.  We’ve chosen to see it as an opportunity to grow in, and grow each other in, the likeness of Christ. 

And we’ve asked and equipped you to use the resulting influence that God has given you through this environment in a very specific way.  Every time you seize the opportunity to encourage the church, challenge Christians to loving action, or share the hope of Christ, you are leading, because you are being intentional with your influence.  You are being a good steward of opportunity.  And I expect that the words “Well done, good and faithful servant!” are ringing through the heavens in response. 

You are being faithful with a few things.  Expect to be put in charge of many things. 


Week 2 reflection questions:

  1. Do you tend to view the amount of influence you have as insignificant? Does our discussion of the parable of the talents (Matt. 25) have any impact on your view?
  2. In what ways can you identify how leadership, stewardship and servanthood are inseparable?
  3. Have you made a conscious and specific choice to use every resource that God has given you to serve Him? Are you willing for Him to reveal to you ways in which you’re not doing that?
  4. What opportunities for influence are you currently using to serve yourself?

This week’s definition:
LEADERSHIP = influence + intentionality

This week’s quote: 
Intentionality makes the difference between mere influence and leadership.  For our influence to become leadership, we must be intentional about whom we will use it to serve.

This week’s assignment: 
Last week we asked you to reflect on and identify areas where God has given you influence -  some capacity to shape your culture and the people around you.  This week we want you to reflect on what your default response is in those situations where you discover that you have influence:
  • Is it your natural tendency to use that influence to serve God and others?
  • or… if you’re honest, do you often engage in more self-serving behavior?
Make it a focus in prayer this week to ask God to intervene in those moments when your inclination is to serve yourself.  Moving from an inward to an outward focus in this regard is a perpetual aspect of developing in Christian leadership and Character.  (It’s also the focus of next week’s post.)

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