The Positive Power of Influence

In the last few years there has been an increasing level of teaching in the Church about the positive power of being relevant.

That of course goes without saying, for unless the Gospel is relevant in its application to the culturally diverse modern world that we live in, its message will be lost in its translation.

However relevance is an obscure objective for many of us who are getting older and were brought up in a vastly different Australia of fifty years ago.

If you are struggling to be relevant, let me suggest a better way.

Its a way that is more natural that takes the struggle out of ministry or what it takes to be a Christian in this high tech world of the Internet with its super highway of knowledge. I am referring of course to the positive power of your personal Influence over life. The influence I refer to is the kind that operates without stress in a natural positive way through your life. The Dictionary says it this way; “It’s a power affecting a person, thing, or course of events, without any direct or apparent effort.” Too often we think that to be a person of influence we must be a gifted leader. Too often the thought of being a person of influence conjures a picture of World Leaders.

Since retiring from the full-time ministry as a Missionary and Pastor in 2004, I struggled with the negative notion that I was no longer relevant. Not only was I no longer relevant but had lost all the powers to influence for God. I felt like I was a nobody in the competitive world of Church leadership. To be honest I felt a little lost in that I had resigned all my influence away and handed it over to another man.

To put it simply – proverbially I was a Rooster one day and a feather-duster the next! I can laugh at it now but at the time it was very real to me. In case you are feeling sorry for me, sooner or later it will happen to you. ha ha!

Oh, of course there was a sigh of relief that I no longer had to be an influence, which ironically is the best place to be. No longer did I have to stand above the crowd and offer all the answers in the name of God. No longer did I have to exert influence and give direction to the Church.

No longer was I expected to prophecy or speak ex cathedra” to my people. I was glad to exit the surreal world that could be called the “Ivory Tower Syndrome” that many leaders don’t recognise and is a deceptive trap fed by pride and ego.

Ultimately in the economy of God our mortality brings us to a place where we are no longer driven by the need to influence others, but rather Christ’s influence in our lives allows His life to shine automatically through us. This in essence is a perfect kind of influence.

Ageing is a great leveller and to be honest, death puts it all in perspective. That’s why I love getting older! It gives me the power to reflect, without the stress of compulsive behaviour to be a person of influence. Rather, my influence now flows out of the natural gifting and person who I am. I no longer have to be the chart maker or history maker, the leader, the visionary (whats the churches vision Pastor?), the ground breaker, the driven individual that craves the success and ackowledgement of my peers.

I now no longer have to be an influence because of my elevated office, but rather as an ordinary man who is equal to his peers, my influence flows out of who I am. In other words, influence must flow out of who you are rather than your position or standing in life. I now find myself surrounded by many men and women of influence on a level playing field and I love it.

Interestingly, since leaving the office of pastor I have found that my influence now is greater than when I was a full time minister. Let me explain: While serving as a Missionary in Papua New Guinea I had the privilege of planting and overseeing 34 Churches in my region. Thousands of people lived in that region and I was their missionary! I was like an Apostle to the region. It was a great privilege and responsibility to bear that kind of influence. 

Later when I returned to Australia I had the privilege of being on the pastoral team that built the largest Church building in South Australia. Again thousands of people were ministered to and came under our influence during those revival years, not only in the Church but on television. They were heady days!

When I came to Queensland I had the privilege to grow a small church, pay off its debt and then buy some land & property next door for future generations. I wanted to build a large auditorium on the front of the property but it was not to be.

Perhaps the Lord knew I would have a pride problem which would negatively effect my influence in the long term!

I also pastored the largest rural church in Queensland. In 2004 over twelve hundred people called the Toowoomba Assembly of God their spiritual home. It was the hub to many churches in Western Queensland and many related to us for encouragement and influence.

All those years of serving were very satisfying and fulfilling. I had reached the zenith of influence, or so I thought!

Let me explain! Since leaving office I decided to pursue a sea change of personal interests, hobbies, church and family history etc. I had very little time to explore them during my missionary and pastoral years. 

Many moons ago while still in Bible School I was given a Agfa Camera by a fellow student which set me on a hobby course of photography for the rest of my life. I’m sure Louis Corino had no idea how much pleasure his gift would give me, let alone influence me and others throughout my life’s journey. Now in retirement I have the time to explore and enjoy it further. I didn’t expect it, but since I have learnt to publish my photos and videos online, via Facebook and this Web site, the stories of interest have created greater interest! I didn’t pursue influence but to by surprise my sphere of influence has extended far beyond the years of full time ministry.

In fact I am staggered at the extent! This website you are reading has been read by 751 people this month. Now thats a good size congregation, hey! It will soon reach over 20,000 readers since I first started working on it. My YouTube video channel has been viewed by over 34,294 viewers from around the world and a further 64,831 being rejected as spams. (i.e. people peddling their own agenda & not really interested in my messages on video!) This month 3443 people whom I have never met have viewed the Christian YouTube videos i have posted online. Amazing, and the most popular is this video about Pentecostal Praise and Worship from South Australia.

Every day an average of over 104 people read from the pages of this website. I have never met them except for those that leave  encouraging comments. I find my influence, far from being a requirement of my ministry, is a natural blessing that flows out of who I am. Someone said to me the other day Pastor Fred you will always be a pastor even though you don’t hold the Office of a Pastor! I guess they are right because that is my nature and how God made me.

Now what am I trying to say in all of this? We are all gifted in one way or another and can be a positive influence for good. The Bible says it this way; let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16 Be yourself and let your light shine naturally where God has planted you and you will be surprised how much blessing you will be to others without trying!

This month we had the privilege of enjoying the visit of a group of Papua New Guinea ladies from the Assemblies of God Churches in Madang.They visited our Albany Hills Christian Church last Sunday night and sang & danced for us.  This particular song was based on the scripture from 2 Kings 2:9-10 Their music and performance is a far cry from the music of the early days of the Mission when we served there!

These ladies are the fruit of the influence of missionaries. During the week they attended a Women’s Conference here in Brisbane. While talking with them I was surprised to hear their testimonies of how former missionaries had influenced their lives through the stories of their parents and for some, grandparents. As I watched them dance their song inviting the Holy Spirit to come upon them as the fire came upon Elijah, I couldn’t help but reflect upon the power of the seeds of influence that the early missionaries of the 1950s – 70s deposited in the lives of the people of Papua New Guinea.

Recently I posted a photo Ps Cyril Westbrook on Facebook and was amazed that in just a few minutes scores of comments & likes (166) of appreciation came online from Papua New Guineans and others who revere him as a Father of the Faith.

At 84 years of age – now that’s influence!

Your influence may even surprise you at times! For example last Sunday I decided to post online a photo of myself sitting in my office ready to go to Church with a caption saying “The House of Worship is the place to be. Its time for me to go and publicly honour Him. Can’t miss the sacrament of the communion of His presence!”

Within a minute someone from overseas wrote a comment in return requesting prayer:

‘Good morning Mr Evans, When seeing your post just a minute ago I felt so bad because I was grew up in church but now I havn’t been to church for some reason, i need your prayers.’

I had never met them, yet the Holy Spirit was able to use a simple photograph & caption to prompt someone about church attendance, which I followed up with a personal prayer and private message of encouragement.

Some time ago a friend of mine was minding their own business just walking down the street when a person who was known to me saw them.  Later the person said Pastor Fred when I saw that friend of yours walking down the street I knew everything would be alright. You see the person concerned was suffering from anxiety & depression but when they saw my friend, immediately they received comfort, that their world was not going to end. Strange thing is influence hey!

In conclusion may I suggest to you that the influence of Christ through your life is more powerful than you think. May God the Holy Spirit use you for His good pleasure and influence others in ways that please God. Its Wonderful how it works!

Philippians 2:13

 



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