Friday, January 18, 2019

Five Minute Friday: INFLUENCE

Today I'm linking up with the Five Minute Friday community, writing for five minutes on a given prompt.

This week's word is INFLUENCE.

Not long ago I saw a short video on Facebook, presented by a behavioural consultant, about three ways to spot the most (or least) influential person in the room. They were:

1. Who does the boss look at most? The person the leader looks at most frequently probably has a lot of influence over that leader, and therefore over the group as a whole.

2. Who do most people in the group look at when everyone is laughing? The group may be checking out the influential person's reaction (is that person laughing too? or are they stone-faced, arms crossed?) so they can adjust their own to fit.

3. Who seems to be seeking approval the most? This one is the opposite of the other two because it indicates the least influential person in the room: that person may be nodding and smiling too much out of insecurity or an attempt to please.

I find it interesting that this video doesn't say why we would want to determine who the most influential people are. I guess there could be lots of reasons: maybe we want to find the person most likely to help us further our agenda or make our dream a reality. Maybe we want to show an influential person how special or indispensable we can be to them, so that our own influence will increase (sort of like #1 above). Maybe we just like the safety -- or the reflected glory -- of being close to someone special and important. But the video doesn't say. The presenter just seems to assume that we want to know who the influencers are.

It made me smile when I tried to imagine what Jesus would do with a topic like this. When he walked the earth as a human being, he seemed so uninterested in who the movers and shakers were.

He drew attention to the poor woman who (either out of generosity or government obligation or both) put the few coins she possessed in the treasury.

He said that the poor in spirit, the mourners, and the meek were blessed.

He declared that humble prayers in a closet and good deeds behind the scenes were better than pompous prayers on the street corner and showy acts of charity.

He chose a motley crew of fishermen, tax collectors, and freedom fighters to be in his inner circle.

Philippians 2 says that "Jesus, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant, and being found in human likeness, he humbled himself..." 

That's a far cry from "Jesus realized that in order to get things done he should seek out the most influential people and get them on-board with his mission in order to maximize his effectiveness."

When it comes to Jesus' upside-down kingdom, we probably shouldn't spend too much time focusing on the influencers. The things that really matter are probably happening well out of the spotlight.


  1. Excellent essay, Jeannie. So many writing blogs advise aspirants to find ways to cozy up to influencers to get publicity.

    That's, like, GROSS, dude. So uncool.

    #1 at FMF this week.

    1. Thank you, Andrew. As time passes I am less and less interested in being near the influencers, or in being one.

      It's great to have you here today.

  2. This is definitely an interesting perspective and incredibly thought-provoking. You are right, if we are striving to be like Jesus, we should follow His example and focus on the least of these, instead of trying to cozy up to the influencers.

    Stopping by from FMF.

    1. Thanks so much, TaMara - really glad to have you here today. I'm going to check out your post as well; it's always so interesting to see what others do with each week's word.

  3. Interesting thoughts, Jeannie. My first reaction was that we would want to find out who the influencers are so that we could emulate them. Then the more I read your article, I thought perhaps we should emulate those to whom Jesus draws attention. Then a third thought came to me. "No, we should be imitators of Christ."

    1. That's great, Angela. It immediately made me think of the Matthew 11 passage as the Message paraphrase puts it: "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace."

  4. That bit about Jesus not organizing a ministry board with the most influential people of Judea is marvelous insight, Jeannie. I’ve fallen into that thinking myself.

    1. Haven't we all, Tim? Maybe we have some kind of vision or dream (related to church or not) and think, who do I need to "network with" to make this a reality? I mean, how can our dream become a reality if we aren't connected to the "right" people? Etc. Etc. Jesus lives and models such a different way.

  5. I love the upside down of Jesus' kingdom. "The things that really matter are probably happening well out of the spotlight." Yes!


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