BEING A PERSON OF POSITIVE INFLUENCE
By Jim Langley
Several years ago I attended a CBMC conference where the keynote speaker was Dr. Tim Elmore, a best-selling author, international speaker, and president and founder of Growing Leaders, a non-profit that helps emerging leaders, with the belief that each person is born with leadership qualities. Elmore offered nine principles he considers critical in the mentoring process, concepts we should all consider as we disciple younger men and women in the faith. He started with an acronym to explain this process: I-N-F-L-U-E-N-C-E. I would like to briefly review each step in his list as he explained it:
First, we must make an Intentional investment in the lives of those God places under our tutelage. We need to continually make deposits into their lives, just as the apostle Paul did with his protégé Timothy. CBMC has developed “Operation Timothy” as an excellent tool for fostering spiritual growth in others. In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul wrote, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”
Next, we must be Natural and authentic in our approach as we meet with those God places in our path. We do not need to impress them with our biblical knowledge and worldly accomplishments. They do need to sense our willingness to help them as they advance in their life journey.
Our Faith needs to be evident and real. We must not only demonstrate our faith in Christ, but also show faith in those we are mentoring. We should "expect the best" from each person and trust God will surely bring out the best as we invest in those who are truly serious about growing in Christ.
We must develop our Listening skills to earn the right to speak to them. In a sense, younger men and women are “students” God has placed in our lives to assist in a journey filled with "many dangers, toils and snares," as the hymn, “Amazing Grace,” expresses it.
Each person we mentor is unique and we must seek to Understand them and where their journey has taken them. Since God has made us all distinctly different with very different experiences, a “cookie cutter” approach cannot work effectively with every person.
They will need much Encouragement to overcome many obstacles that can prevent them from realizing their full potential as followers of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…let us encourage one another.”
We must also Navigate them through the twists and turns of their journey, sometimes even serving as their compass to guide them on the right path and keep them from becoming sidetracked by ungodly influences.
It is critical to demonstrate a consistent Concern for their well-being. They must see and experience our constant care for their growth in Christ, being available as they will struggle with many issues, especially early in their journey. In 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, the apostle Paul writes of being “gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”
They need to see our Enthusiasm in all we say and do. If we cannot be excited about our relationship with Christ, then we probably are not properly prepared for mentoring of a new disciple who truly wants to know Christ intimately. The discipling process needs to be taken both seriously and enthusiastically.