I recently finished reading Spiritual Influence by Mel Lawrenz. I received the book as part of the Spiritual Influence Blog Tour, but for some reason it took me a little longer to receive the book so I’m a little late for the actual blog tour.
All of us have influence – with family, friends, colleagues, and more – the interesting thing is how people use their influence. Mel Lawrenz believes that your faith in God gives you a power – a hidden power – that will allow you to make an enduring difference in the lives of other people and organisations.
I think the issue of leadership is critical for not just the Church but also Christians in business and government. There are many books on Christian leadership, let alone leadership, and so in one sense Lawrenz says nothing that is new or “hidden”. He set out in this book to address some of those questions and provide helpful answers to some of the struggles involved in leadership from a Christian perspective drawing on more than thirty years of experience in pastoral ministry.
His definition of influence is:
“Influence is about the hidden forces that make visible results that have an enduring effect. It ties into the core spiritual realities believers know about because they understand the Creator of the universe to be the underlying power and influence behind all things good.”
In his book Lawrenz argues against the secular-sacred divide that is so often seen in leadership discussions and instead argues that anyone who is a Christian and a leader is a Christian leader. He reminds us over and over again that you don’t have to have be a big name speaker, or an amazing author, or CEO of a multinational company to have positive influence on the life of others. What you need is to pursue wisdom, humility, grace, and most of all God.
Lawrenz recommends that each chapter be read and discussed with others, so their content is succinct and clear. The chapters are succinct and well ordered in four parts: Getting Grounded covers foundational issues, Taking Initiative deals with practical matters, Going Deep deals with ongoing personal growth, and Facing Challenges engages with, as the topic states, how obstacles and resistance can be dealt with.
This book addresses issues such as:
- building integrity
- seizing opportunities
- exploring new horizons
- speaking into crises
- receiving power
- accepting authority
- promoting truth
- managing expectations
- dealing with criticism
The book has a real lack of personal stories, and I can’t decide in my mind if that is a good thing or not. In one sense it puts the focus on the teaching, highlights that Lawrenz doesn’t believe he lives it all out perfectly; but on the flipside I think it is always helpful to understand how people practically play it out.
I have found this an interesting book to dip in and out of. The book time and time again highlights that success as a leader is marked by growth in character and wisdom, not by the numbers of those influenced or outcomes achieved in their stations.