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Flowing


Then, there's the word study I did several weeks ago in preparation for this series on igniting personal influence. It's a simplification, but the main points lay out something like this---

There's the Latin root "flu", meaning "flow".

Many words in our language are constructed on the Latin "flu". For instance---

Flux: the motion of flowing, as in everything is in a state of flux.

Fluent: easily flowing, as in words.

Affluence: much flowing, as in a person of wealth.

Confluence: flowing with, as in a confluence of ideas.

Effluent: flowing out of someone or some thing.

Influence: flowing from one person to another person or situation.

In a literal sense, influence is the action of an individual flowing character, ideals, ideas, values, and other important life realities into another person or set of circumstances.

Several presumptions overlay the idea of effective influence---

1. Influence involves relational proximity.

This kind of closeness was evident in the ministry and teaching of Jesus. He

emphasized loving others, being people of relational integrity, exemplifying the

traits of compassion, and genuine caring. His relationships with the Twelve is a

prime example. Mark wrote, "And he went up on the mountain and called to

him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve

(whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might

send them out to preach (Mark 3:13-14). This proximity isn't always a physical

presence, but may be shared values and attitudes, an emotional or spiritual

nearness.

2. Impediments to relational flow must be minimized.

Humans differ at many levels of interaction. Every single person has biases,

preferences, likes and dislikes, mannerisms, and distinctions that can impede

relational interaction, thereby reducing the potential of person-to-person

influence. The Beatitudes (Matthew 5: 3-11) and The Fruit of the Spirit

(Galatians 5:22-23) provide guidance in forming the character of influential

people. More than anything, these verses provide Scriptural attitude

adjustments that make communication and relational integrity a possible for

prideful humans.

3. Genuine influence flows from the heart.

This flow one heart to another was an ancient connection known to Solomon

and the Old Testament saints. He wrote, "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for

from it flow the springs of life" (Proverbs 4:23). Jesus amplified this truth even

more when he said, "The good person out of the good treasure of his heart

produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for

out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45). Genuine

influence is deeper than what we see.

4. Relational integrity re-positions others in our priorities.

Scripture is the supreme lesson plan in relating to others. Throughout the Bible

this lesson plan challenges our natural bent to self-absorption so that others

hold a place of priority in our life schemata. Numerous verses and entire

sections of Paul's Epistles were dedicated to biblical inter-relational dynamics.

Genuine human influence is possible only when we are able to live the Bible

standards regarding other people. Thinking more highly of them than ourselves

is a high bar (Philippians 2:3) that must be maintained if our influence is to real.

It is the humility thing, again.

5. Transparency is essential in igniting personal influence.

Jesus was very clear in his use of the Greek "hupocritos" the dreaded "H" word

that we are so careful about and reluctant to use. Literally it refers to the Greek

stage, the mask wearers who alternated between the tragedy and comedy of

Greek drama. Being fake, artificial, cloaked in pretense, or wearing masks won't

work in situations of influence. Paul wrote an important passage that deals

with authenticity. He wrote, "to put off your old self, which belongs to your

former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be

renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after

the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:22-24).

For our influence to shine, this new self needs to shine.

These are difficult interactions in times like these. Every year I read liberal theologian Harvey Cox's The Secular City (New York: McMillan Company, 1965) as a reminder of the cultural traits he predicted in post-Christian America. He imagined our nation as one of mobility and anonymity. We would be on the move and hidden. To a great degree, his prophetic interpretation of the times has been very accurate. The pace of life and the new world of personal veneers and pretense make these relational metrics more difficult to maintain. In the process, genuine influence is more the exception than the rule. The flowing is hindered.

Shine? Yes, of course. But, the word for the day is flow. That's real influence, when we flow into others.


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