Posted: January 27, 2011 in Words

There’s an old story about a guy who gets a tour of Heaven and Hell. In each place, there’s a roomful of people seated at a table with a big pot of soup in the middle and each person has a four foot spoon attached to their hand. In Hell, the people look emaciated and are groaning with hunger. In Heaven, each person is healthy and well-fed, laughing and enjoying life. The guy asks, “What’s the difference?” His tour guide explains, “In Heaven, the guests have learned to feed each other. In Hell, each one is concerned only with feeding himself.”

"Watch the mustache, dear."

Every one of us has some level of influence. The question isn’t how much or how little, or even how to get more. The most important question we must consider about the influence we have is, “How do I use it?” The way I see it, you can only leverage your influence in two directions- For yourself or away from yourself. When you find yourself in a position of influence, do you capitalize on it for your own gain or do you leverage that influence for the sake of others?

No, not that kind of Leverage...

You don’t have to look far to find people who have leveraged their influence for their own gain. The older sibling who gets the front seat through threatening looks and gestures. The politician who throws his weight around to push his ideas through. The lady in the office who flexes her seniority to get her way. The pastor who gets everything he wants because- well, because he’s the pastor and he said so. Sure, those people get what they want, but they also make a lot of enemies on their way there.

You have to search a little harder to find people who leverage their influence the other way, and the reason you do is because they aren’t jockeying for position, so they aren’t as visible. Instead of spending their efforts and resources to get their way, they’re using what they’ve got for the sake of others. Instead of pushing their way to the front of the line, they’re willing to take a back seat. And you know what I’ve noticed about the people who do that consistently? In the end they often get what they want, too, but instead of arriving at their goal with a trail of bodies and egos in their wake, they arrive with friends and supporters at their side.

Time and time again I’ve seen that when you’re willing to sacrifice for the sake of others, they’re willing to sacrifice for you right back. When I’m humble and willing to serve, it can spur others to do the same thing, and in time, instead of a roomful of people pulling and struggling against each other to get what we each want, we become a community of people serving and helping each other achieve goals together.

“You know that those regarded as Gentile rulers lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be a slave to all. For even the Son of Man didn’t come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.”          Jesus, in Mark 10:42-45

Have you seen this expressed, for good or bad, in your life? Comments are always welcome.

  1. Edwin Christian says:

    All my life it has been expressed to me the importance of teamwork, but it really didn’t take a firm hold on me until I entered the military. As kids we used to play army and run up the hill with our play rifles or run through the neighborhoods playing cavalry like Rin Tin Tin on the television, but looking out for the next person was at the bottom of our concerns, we just wanted to have fun.
    After I graduated from the Naval Academy and was sent to Viet Nam, teamwork took a whole different meaning. We were responsible for each other and if one of us messed up, someone died. That was a hard lesson for most of us 18 to 22 year old kids to handle. But time after time just knowing you have a buddy watching out for you while you slept made the whole mess seem less stressful.
    I was a Marine sniper in Nam and my buddy was my spotter. We watched out for each other in the field and many times saved one another from something awful. On our last assignment, he jumped up and took a bullet that was meant for me saving my life. He gave his life so I could go home and finish raising my family. I will always carry him in my heart and realise the unselfishness of his act. I have always, since then, stepped forward to lend a helping hand whereever I see a need.
    I raised my children with the same principles and they have gone on to teach the priciples to their children. Life is so much easier if you leverage influence in the right direction to help others.
    Thanks for the article on leverage.

    Ed Christian

  2. Cindy says:

    You are wise beyond your years(way beyond your years since there really aren’t THAT may years!) Iam truly blessed that you are my pastor and friend! Have a good day, hope Sam feels better.

  3. Patty Greene says:

    You are truly good at your job..I love reading the things you post.

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