There are all sorts of folks in the world seeking to be an influencer, seeking to push a product or concept. The most vital sort of being an agent of influence is to be a sold out, Spirit-empowered, biblically-literate follower of Jesus Christ. The world is starved for those sorts of influencers. Will you be one?
One hears a lot in recent times about “influencers”. They get a fair bit of press lately. The other day I saw a few headlines – out of many: “Revealed: Victoria’s top 100 Instagram Influencers.” And this: “From celebrities to relatable mums, cleaning trick gurus to fashion models, these are Victoria’s top Instagram influencers. See who ranked number one.”
But who they are and what they do has largely eluded me up till now. So I did a quick online search and got a few definitions: “Influencers in social media are people who have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a specific topic.” Another says this:
“An influencer is someone in your niche or industry with sway over your target audience. Influencers have specialized knowledge, authority or insight into a specific subject. Their pre-existing presence in a niche makes them a useful launching pad for brands in search of credibility.”
So that got me thinking. (Most things get me thinking.) Christians of all people should be influencers. And not just the big cheeses: pastors, teachers, preachers, evangelists, and so on. ALL people who know Christ should be influencers. We all should have a reputation for being experts in our particular “brand”. We should all be having an impact as we seek to “sway” others.
And that will involve two elements of course: the sort of life that we live, and the words that we speak. We must show the world what a real Christian life is all about, but we must also share the gospel message. Our lives must be Christlike and we must be willing to share biblical truth.
Jesus did not command his disciples to go into all the world and influence folks, but to preach the gospel. Sure, our lives should back up our words. Our walk should match our talk. But our influence will always contain content. Our witness will always involve communicating the Christian message.
The idea of being salt and light is certainly involved here. But how can we be an influencer for Christ? Much can be said, but something John Stott wrote the year he passed away (2011) is worth sharing parts of here. He penned a piece called “Four Ways Christians Can Influence the World”. Early on he says this:
The word influence can sometimes be used for a self-centered thirst for power, like in Dale Carnegie’s famous book How to Make Friends and Influence People. But it can also be used in an unselfish way of the desire of Christians who refuse to acquiesce to the status quo, who are determined to see things changed in society and long to have some influence for Jesus Christ. Are we powerless? Is the quest for social change hopeless before we begin? Or can Christians exert some influence for Jesus Christ?
What is the nature of this influence? Let me suggest to you a few ways in which we Christians have power.
First, there is power in prayer. I beg you not to dismiss this as a pious platitude. It isn’t. There are some Christians who are such social activists that they never stop to pray. They are wrong, are they not?