Spiritual Influence {Leadership Thoughts from Mel Lawrenz, Part III}

If you’ve been tracking with my highlights from Mel Lawrenz’s book Spiritual Influence and maybe thinking you’ll skip the whole book and settle for my quotes…don’t. Part Three needs to be read…by everyone. You need to read it.

Here’s what I think too easily happens when it comes to our most important relationships: We short-change ourselves. We listen to all the inadequacies we know about ourselves, and imagine all the limitations others presume about us, and out of these two propositions we conduct a full symphony of our insecurities until we are fully convinced that “leadership” is for other people. Problem with this is that the other people in our lives are desperate for those who will go to the deeper places with them. Spiritual influencers are those who silence their fears and self-doubts and offer the rare qualities of Spirit-empowered wisdom and truth.

We all live out of our “deep places.” If we want to see God bring about real transformation in our loved one’s lives we must be willing to enter these places and accept the power he gives us to help them live into the greater truths about themselves. This kind of talk gets me all kinds of excited. I love seeing people get comfortable with God meeting them in the deep places, so it should come as no surprise that Part Three: Going Deep was read with many hearty ‘Amens’.

A few {well, a tad more than a ‘few’} highlights:

On discernment–

  • “One of the greatest responsibilities leaders have is to guide people into clearer understandings of reality…No one benefits when we speak into a world that does not exist.”
  • The discerning leader looks at a situation, not rushing to judgment but being bold enough to eventually make a judgment by separating reality from perception.”
  • We are satisfied with image, when we should insist on transformation.”
  • “[The skill of discernment,] does not come to us out of thin air. We need to accumulate an abundance of knowledge, to be perpetual learners about life and leadership. Knowledge will not automatically make us discerning, but it is impossible to have discernment if our knowledge base is narrow.”
  • “Some people are satisfied with a surface understanding of life: the people who do the work to go deep and accumulate refined insights are as good as gold.”

On wisdom–

  • “The people we deem to be extraordinarily wise are people who are relatively free of mixed motives, are not driven by personal ambition, and have generous, stable attitudes. This the meaning of purity, and it is what makes some people open conduits of God’s wisdom. They don’t mess things up with themselves. They look you in the eye and see you for who you are and not who they want you to be for them. (Application: leadership that is pure has a moral and ethical clarity.)”
  • When leaders crave wisdom, they want their decisions to be morally good, not just measurably productive.
  • “Wise leaders naturally engender trust because they stream wisdom. They are not egotistical, because they are viscerally repulsed by arrogance. They are also brave enough to accept being confronted regarding their own moments of foolishness. Only fools never feel foolish.”
  • Wisdom is not a sexy word. Passion is. Vision is. But passion without wisdom can burn people up rather than getting them to burn on. And wisdom without vision can lead to arbitrary or unrealistic goals, driving down a road that ends off a cliff. In contrast, wisdom drives the boldest initiatives and strongest convictions. Wisdom is anything but tame.

On power–

  • “When we lead, we assert authority–but the difference between transformational leadership and pathological leadership is whether we are helping people discover God’s authority in their lives or we are just asserting our own authority.”
  • Unprincipled leadership is almost always all about power–gaining it, keeping it, using it. Spiritual influence, on the other hand, means taking a powerless stance so as to receive and transmit the power of God.
  • “The gospel is the power of God. It stuns people. Surprises them. Impacts them. Flows into them and through them, changing them forever. This proclamation that is power knocks down the proud, elevates the humble, empowers people who are disenfranchised.”
  • Spiritual influence draws on a kind of power that surpasses all forms of blunt-edged, push-and-shove, maim-and-kill leadership that is exercised in the world today.

On authority–

  • “Who has “spiritual authority?” The short answer to the question is: anybody the Spirit chooses to use…God is not limited to organizational charts. You don’t need a title to be a leader.”
  • “We need many people who are helping others come under the transformative influence of God…Pharisees and their modern counterparts have a problem with that. They are ever tracking who has office and who does not. They spend much of their time suppressing the efforts of people whom they do not consider bona fide leaders. In a worst-case scenario, they consider regulation their only responsibility and develop a self-righteousness and pride of position that kills the motive of the mission. If policy wonks tried to condemn Jesus, they’ll try to do it to anybody.”
  • “The solution for the fossilization of leadership today lies at the center of the gospel. Jesus shattered the foundations of the spiritual bureaucrats of his day with the kingdom-of-God message. God must reign. God does reign. And God needs no one’s permission. His authority is absolute. Our authority is strictly derivative, and only as sound as it is connected with the purposes of God.”

On truth–

  • “As a practical matter, truth telling includes leading an honest evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of an organization, a process which makes real improvement possible. Truth telling also calls a leader to admit mistakes and shortcomings instead of flaunting a false persona.”
  • “Knowing the truth is a relationship, because it means knowing God.”
  • “The real power of spiritual influence comes through when the substance of Scripture continually shapes our attitudes, values, and opinions.”
  • “When talking about truth is a dead-end street, the alternative is to live the truth–which is what we should be doing anyway.” {Yes, and Amen!}

On going deep–

  • “It is natural for us to wonder how far our influence can go, but if we want to see an enduring influence we will ask how deept it is going. At the most superficial level some leaders move people around like herding cattle. They are not trying for anything deeper because they don’t care about anything deeper. Their objective is simply to get people to do things: go to a place, buy a product, sign up, attend a meeting, donate some money.”
  • These are the kinds of choices we make: Merely sell a product, or spread a resource that promotes human flourishing? Get bodies in a room, or develop community? Become famous, or be influential? Cause people to admire you, or lead them to cherish God?”

Really. You need to get this book and read this section. The people in your life are desperate for someone who will go deeper with them…that someone could be you.

Tomorrow I will share the fourth and final part of this book: Facing Challenges. See you then!

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