Our church is in the process of reviewing our leadership development process. As I begin to engage in this process, I see the difference between authority and influence.

Just because you have a leadership title does not mean you have influence. Influence comes when we build relationships with the people we are called to lead. We are called to love people who we are called to lead. Love is an action word and it is important for us to show them we love them. It can’t be a transactional relationship. It has to be something deeper.

Within youth ministry, I am always amazed at how many students have more influence than some of the adult leaders in the room. It has nothing to do with title and everything to do with the relationship capital that is built.

What’s your relationship capital with the people you are leading? Scripture encourages us in John 13:34, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” We are instructed to love other people as Jesus loved us.

Love is the foundation of everything we do in the kingdom of God. When you know the foundation, it will affect how you build. Your work will begin to change when you begin to realize that the foundation is love. As you build from the foundation of the love of God, you will produce influence that will be crucial to the effectiveness of your ministry. That ministry might be within your family, your friends and co-workers, or at church. Our influence will help us when we have hard conversations with people. It will help us when we are developing the people we are called to lead. Do not rely on your authority alone, but make sure you are building influence among the people you were called to.

Jesus and the Pharisees are a perfect example of the battle of influence and authority. The religious Pharisees relied heavy on the authority they were given, but they lacked influence. They didn’t care about building relationships with the people they were called to lead.

Jesus had all the authority from God, but remained intentional with every person He was called to minister to – from the women at the well to His disciples. He gained massive influence over time because of how intentional He was to love the people He was called to. It didn’t matter how difficult the situation was. It didn’t change the love He shared with them.

As you read this, you can probably think of a few people in your workplace, church, etc. who are more difficult to love. That doesn’t change what you are called to do. If you want influence, you have to show people your heart. Show them how much you love them. When you do, it will increase your influence and you will be able to make greater change on behalf of God’s kingdom.

I want to encourage you to ask yourself, “What is the foundation behind the work that I do in my spheres of influence?”  If it is not love, then ask the Holy Spirit to help you make the foundation be love. You will not increase influence if the foundation is not love.


Tyler Jones is Student Ministry Pastor at Koinonia Church in Hanford, CA. He can be reached at tyler@kchanford.com or 559-582-1528.