August 29, 2011
Dear Marketplace Friend,
It’s pretty innocuous, really; in the right context, it’s even pretty good advice: “You can get anything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want,” (Zig Ziglar). When Zig says that, he has an underlying values filter that assumes that what you want is morally upright, and what you’ll help others experience is similarly above-board. The problem? The principle still works if the individual objectives are corrupted…
My apologies if you read me regularly, addressing issues within a limited spectrum of subjects. My core audience is leaders who are Christian, called to live a life of stewardship, managing their time, talents, influence and resources in service to their Master in Heaven.
Every time I get in the car, my GPS wants to know where I want to go. The first turn out of the driveway – and every turn thereafter – will be determined by my stated destination. Every morning, we are all faced with the same challenge: how will the decisions I make today advance my journey toward an intentional outcome? To what end are you managing your life?
Allow me to suggest two overriding models. Option #1: join with the majority of your leadership peers in the race toward affluence; or, Option #2: run with the minority of leaders whose objective is influence. Affluence: an abundance of money, property, and other material goods; riches; wealth. Influence: the capacity or power to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior or opinions of others.
If you’re living for affluence, life in the last three years has been hell. If you’ve hoped to gain affluence, you’ve lost yardage. If you had affluence, chances are it has eroded. When affluence-seekers finally acquire it, the strategy shifts to protect-at-all-costs; hoarding becomes defendable.
Some folks trade affluence for influence, intent to gain more affluence. It becomes a repetitive cycle, with no reasonable end point. Others just view affluence as their reward: they got what they wanted in life by helping other people get what they wanted.
What if influence was the short-term objective; a milestone on the way to a greater outcome? What if affluence was recognized as either a distraction… or a tool through which influence could be secured for greater purposes? What if this life was really about growing influence… and then leveraging it to the max for the purpose of changing the actions, behavior and opinions of other people about Jesus?
My historic hero – Paul of Tarsus – made leveraged influence his long-term objective. He advocated it as the operative distinctive that marked the life of his Messiah: “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11.)
I spent my first 14 years of adult leadership in business, with affluence as my daily pursuit. It wasn’t unholy, by any means… and God was getting his share of the proceeds (10% ) as part of the deal. But 27 years ago, I came to a place where my pursuit of affluence was limiting the growth of my influence, and I made a strategic turn on the toll-road of my life that I’ve never regretted.
As you pull out of life’s garage for this week’s installment in your story, what destination are you setting in your nav system? Affluence, as the end-point? Or, Influence… leveraged for Eternity?