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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - A Matter Of Influence - Part 1

Allen Jackson - A Matter Of Influence - Part 1

Allen Jackson - A Matter Of Influence - Part 1
TOPICS: Influence, Leadership

I want to continue a theme that we began last weekend under this general notion of leading with our faith, and the premise is pretty simple. You're world-class leaders. You lead in your home in influencing your children, in your families, in your neighborhoods, and on the ball fields of our community, and in the corporate settings, and in legal settings, in medical settings. You have leadership expertise. You lead teams of people, and you mobilize. You're world-class at that. What we haven't had was the imagination that we should bring that same set of skills and tools and determination and focus to our faith. We've been passive with our faith. We don't want to force our opinions on anyone. We don't want to say anything that would cause someone else to be offended.

If you're a leader of any significance whatsoever, in your home if you're leading your children, you know, you're going to have to be willing to offend them. They don't want to wash behind their ears. They don't want to eat broccoli. They think chicken fingers and pizza are the food groups that God designed and they shouldn't be asked to explore beyond that. Ice cream is good before any meal. And if you're going to lead them with any integrity, you're going to have to be willing to face the brunt of their displeasure.

How is it we have more courage with a 4-year-old than we do with the eternity of our friends? We've been reluctant to lead with our faith. And so we're kind of walking through this and what it means to us and what that would look like, and today's session is really focused on this matter of influence and what you're using your influence for. Be certain of this. You are influencing the people around you. You're either influencing them towards ungodliness or you're influencing them towards godliness. Now, which is it? And if you're not intentionally doing it for godliness, in your passiveness you are advocating for ungodliness. If you're not standing for the truth, you're giving momentum to the deception. We've been confused on this point, church. We thought we could file in our buildings and endure our services and file out gratefully that they were no longer than they were and then go blend in amongst the ungodly and think we were good to go.

I'm telling you that is a deceptive way to lead your lives. You won't be prepared when you see the boss. We want to use our faith. God has given you influence. Are you using it for godliness? If you have influence in a secular setting and the people that you're leading do not know you have a meaningful faith in Jesus Christ, you're deceptive. Jesus said if you wouldn't honor him before men, he won't honor you before the Father. You say, "Well, it's not welcome in that setting". I know, I used to buy that. I used to accept that notion until I've watched the most powerful corporate settings in our nation take a worldview and force it upon us, and now I'm embarrassed and ashamed that I didn't take my faith more boldly into all those places whenever I had the chance. I intend to learn from my mistakes, and I wanted, you don't have to be angry, you don't have to be belligerent, you don't have to be condemning.

You can say, "This is what I believe. Let me tell you what I think. This is how I feel". You're entitled to those things. "Thank you, Pastor. That's an amazing message for today. We're glad we came to church". No, no, no, huh-uh. A matter of influence. Look at Daniel 2 and verse 20. This is Daniel after God revealed to him the dream that the king had, which the king could not remember. "Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his". I'm telling you, Daniel was leading with his faith. He said to the king, "The God I worship will tell me what your dream was". Hello? "He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells in him".

Did you hear what Daniel understood about God? He's not reciting a Sunday school lesson. His life is on the line. I mean, very literally. He and his friends would not have survived sunset if he'd arrived the next morning without the answer that he'd committed to deliver, and he said that God knows what lies in darkness. God knows what's hidden. He knows the secret plans of the wicked, and Daniel believed that God would respond. Daniel also, it's clear, believed that God responds through his people. He doesn't respond in the abstract. "King, you want to know your dream? I'll tell you what it is in the morning". Do we live with the imagination that God responds through his people, or do you want him to respond through a government agency or a committee at the church or someone else? What would it look like if when we began to pray we imagined that we were going to be a part of the delivery system? It would change our prayer lives.

Daniel said God sets up kings and deposes them. Daniel believed that God put kings in place, and he removed them from their place. I assure you that if God gives attention to putting kings in place, he also puts small group leaders in place, and he deposes them. It's a serious assignment. Serving the Lord is a serious assignment no matter what your assignment is. I believe he puts PTO groups in places in our schools. And if we honor the Lord he'll bring blessings to us, and if we dishonor him he will remove us. Don't just imagine that's true in the highest levels of authority and leadership. Imagine that anything that God puts before you, any place he gives you influence God has given you that influence. And if you use it for him, he will multiply it. If you don't use it, he'll remove you.

Most of us think, "Well, I'd be willing to use my influence if I got a big enough platform". No, you wouldn't. If you won't tell your neighbor the truth, or the people around your kitchen table the truth, or the people in your family system the truth, why should God give you a larger platform? We're not trustworthy. Build your trustworthiness with the Lord. We're going to talk about that more when we get to the faith part of leading with our faith. What will we do? This is the question Daniel pushes right up before us. What will we do? What will you and I do with the influence which God entrusts to us? I want you to think about that a little bit not just in this few moments we're together, as you walk through the week. What are you doing with the influence that God has entrusted to you? Because he's given you.

Someone says, "I don't like the influence I have". Well, okay. "Or the people that I want to care about my opinion don't". That's not the issue. What are you doing in the places where your opinion matters? It's a very important question to process. I would submit to you that God is the one who gives influence. You know, just as an observer of people, and I've been in the midst of people for a long time, I find that many imagine that the path to influence is away from God, that the quickest way to garner influence... I've met people within the Christian community who are world-class at finding a parade and then jumping in front of it. That's not a great pathway. I've watched dozens and dozens and dozens of those persons, and for a few moments they may be standing brightly at the front of the parade, but before very long their influence fades.

There's a temptation to imagine that the path to influence is away from God. And then once you secure influence, whether you've done it with position or power or wealth, then you can pivot and use your influence for God. And we've heard those stories and those life stories and those testimonies and once in a great while God in his mercy allows such things to occur; but I would submit to you there is a preferred path, a more steadfast path, a path with far higher outcomes of influence. It's the path which Jesus demonstrated for us. He didn't come proclaiming his uniqueness. In fact, the path begins with God and his sovereignty. Jesus accepted an assignment; an unpleasant assignment, an uncomfortable assignment, a very difficult assignment. In order to pick up the assignment, he had to lay aside prestige, and he had to lay aside glory, and he had to lay aside power.

Are you willing to submit to the sovereignty of God, or are you still trying to get God to submit to your sovereignty? Most of us begin a prayer life trying to get God to do our will; and as we grow up in the Lord, we begin to have this faint notion at the periphery of our awareness that, "Perhaps God would like me to do his way". Jesus began with God in his sovereignty; but he followed that with obedience, even obedience to the point of death. He laid down his life. You see, real influence comes from a yielding of your prerogatives, not a demanding of them. Jesus had the humility to serve, and he did it with the confidence that if he served his Father that the reward would outweigh anything which he had been asked to sacrifice. Do you believe that God's the rewarder of those who diligently seek him? Me, too. God gives influence.

Look at Isaiah 56 and verse 10. It's really an evaluation from God. Remember, prophets give you God's perspective. So Isaiah is giving to the people God's perspective on what's happening in their nation. You think you could stand God's perspective on what's happening in our nation? Are you willing to give voice to it as you understand it? "Israel's watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep. They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, each seeks his own gain. 'Come,' each one cries, 'let me get wine. Let us drink our fill of beer. And tomorrow will be like today, or even far better.'"

Forget the pandemic. Don't pay attention to what's happening. Don't listen to the naysayers that say we're in trouble. Things will always get better. The markets will always go up. It's going to be okay. Don't pay any attention to what they're saying. The watchmen are blind, dogs who won't bark, more focused on satisfying their own desires than they are the assignment to stand guard. See, God has given us influence because he expects us to use it for his kingdom, to use our voice.

You say, "Well, let somebody else do it". That's not how it works. We're a body. Folks, your physical well-being is dependent upon every portion of your body functioning well. Any part of that system ceases to function, you become exponentially more vulnerable. The parts you don't think about, the involuntary parts protect you 24/7. When they cease functioning or they function in a diminished way, you are incredibly more vulnerable. It will shorten your life. And when we fail to use the influence God has given us for the purposes of his kingdom, we make the most vulnerable amongst us incredibly more at risk. We know this is true. It's logical. It doesn't even take, you don't have to pay much attention at all. Sixty million children have been sacrificed because it was inconvenient for us to say something, and now they're mutilating our children not with good science, based on influence, people's opinions, social experiments. They're devastating our military. Our military is not to be a social experiment; it's to protect our nation. The purpose of the military is to win wars. We're confused.

Let's talk a little bit more about spiritual influence, spiritual influence. I would submit to you that you want to be world-class at spiritual influence. You don't have to be a preacher to do this. You don't have to be a professional theologian. Many of you want to be world-class parents or world-class at investments, and those are legitimate goals. I'm not in any way trying to throw shade at those, but I would submit to you that the most significant assignment of our lives is how do we make an influence in spiritual matters? At the end of the day, that's leadership. If you're great at leading in a secular arena and you have no influence whatsoever spiritually, you have missed the life assignment, because one is temporary and one is eternal.

In 2 Corinthians chapter 1, I pulled several passages. I've been reading 1 and 2 Corinthians. The Corinthian church struggled. Man, they were an immoral lot. Paul said, "You're doing things that the pagans won't do". He said, "I've delayed my visit to you 'cause if I came right now I'd be so angry you wouldn't like me". I mean, the Corinthian church struggled. So it feels like a pretty good message in many respects to the contemporary American church. But as I've read it, I just started to make some notes about the kind of influence that Paul's encouraging them to have. In 2 Corinthians 1, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort". He comforts us in our troubles, in all our troubles. "So that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God".

That's an expression of influence. When you see somebody that's troubled, you can bring comfort to them from the troubled places in your life you've survived. You bring a godly voice to bear. It's not a voice of condemnation. It's not a voice of criticism. A co-worker is walking through a hard place. Maybe the children are sick, or a child is making some choices that are bringing great anxiety, or they're struggling in their marriage, or a bad business decision, or something in their larger family and all the things that life brings to us 'cause life brings some stuff. Have you noticed? And rather than just be quiet and not care and do my job, say, "I'm an introvert. You know, I don't really try to put my nose in others".

You're not putting your nose. You can do a let's-pray moment. If you'll do a let's-pray moment, with any routine there'll be an opportunity that comes beyond that. They'll ask you to listen. They won't really ask you to listen to them; they'll start to talk, and then you have to decide what signal you're going to give. You can give the I'm-too-busy signal. You know, it starts to leak out of them. Maybe it's a little emotion, or it's a little despair, or it's a little anger, a little something. You know, at this point you've got a choice to make. What message are you going to give? Stop for a minute and listen. You don't have to have the answer. In fact, I think it's more than appropriate to say, "You know, I can't imagine how difficult that would be or how painful that can be. I don't know what the answer would be, but I'd like the privilege of praying with you".

Comfort those. That's influence. Let it be known you believe there's a God, that you'll pray, that you'll listen. That's not the only way. Look at 2 Corinthians 5. "Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord". We know what it is to fear the Lord. One of the great challenges that we have today is God's people have forgotten what it means to fear the Lord. We've lost our respect for him, our reverence for him. We think he takes a vote before he makes a decision. God does not preside over a democracy or a republic. He is sovereign. That means he can do what he wants, when he wants, the way he wants, and he needs no one's approval. Paul said, "We know what it is to fear the Lord, and we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it's also plain to your conscience".

Are you trying to persuade people to fear the Lord? That's influence in the kingdom of God. "Well, I'm not comfortable doing that". "Why"? "Because I don't think it pleases the Lord". Some people have never imagined that as a component of a decision. They're not aware that they know anybody that does consider that a component of decision-making. If it's pleasurable, if it will give me an opportunity, if it'll help me get ahead, those are the markers. And to hear somebody say, "No, you know, I'm concerned about what God would think if I made that choice". You can influence people to cultivate the fear of the Lord. Now, I understand the vulnerability in that 'cause it'll require a little consistency in our lives in showing that respect for the Lord. Look at 2 Corinthians 6. "We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited". We've made a decision to live in such a way that we will minimize the disruption in other people's lives.

See, we've adopted another message. "I don't care what other people think. I'm not trying to please people". Oh yes, you are. There are some people you want to please. There's just others you stepped away from and say, "I couldn't care less". Now, you can't please everybody. If you make that your life goal, you'll go nuts. But there's a difference in trying to please everybody you come in contact with and choosing to lead a life that does not intentionally disrupt other people from honoring the Lord. "So that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way; in great endurance; in troubles, in hardships, in distresses; in beatings, and imprisonments, and riots; in hard work, in sleepless nights, in hunger, in purity, in understanding, in patience, in kindness; in the Holy Spirit and sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as imposters; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything".

Does that sound like your model for leadership? You say we've endured what we have to endure in order to accomplish the objective. Think of Jesus again. Think of the things Jesus endured, the times he was rejected. And he didn't do anything to satisfy those who were condemning him. In Nazareth where they wanted him to do more miracles, it says he couldn't because of their unbelief. Oh, he could have, but he would have broken faith with the assignment he had. When the Roman soldiers blindfolded him and shoved a threat count, a crown of thorns upon his head and then hit him over the head and said, "Who struck you"? Says he stayed silent. He could have told them not only who struck him, he could have told them the color of the wallpaper in the master bathroom of their home. He could have said, "I know the eye color of your second child. Hit me again". He chose something different.

You see, leading with our faith is a different model. It's not about demanding our rights and ensuring our privilege and protecting our opportunity; it's recognizing that we serve something higher than ourselves. And if in a moment we take a disadvantaged position, it's because there's a position of great advantage ahead of us. Leading with our faith, influence. "I put no stumbling block," he said, "in anyone's path. I'll take a harder road that somebody else might have easier access to the way of truth and life". Look in 1 Corinthians 5. "Do you not know". And anytime a sentence begins with that, the answer is no, probably we don't.

"Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough"? Just a little leaven. "Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover has also been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, not with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth". He said you cannot incorporate ungodliness into your life and maintain your influence. It will diminish your impact. See, we're focused more on the grace of God than the truth of God, and I believe in grace. You look up grace, my picture will be there. I need it. I have needed it. I need it today. I'm quite certain I will need it in the future. It's not an excuse for sloppiness. That's the reality of it. But God is a just God, and that's just as important.

Look at verse 9. "I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people". How do you lead with spiritual influence? Don't encourage immorality. That's not my idea. It's, like, in the book. Who knew? But listen, he gives you some definition. He said, "I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or the swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you'd have to go out of the world". "You see, when I said don't interact with immoral people," he said, "I didn't mean the ungodly people". He said you can, Paul said, "I didn't mean the greedy people or the swindlers". He said that's what the world is full of.

Verse 11, "But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he's an immoral person". So-called he says. You can't practice immorality and think your place in the kingdom is secure. Remember the passage about watchmen on the walls? And if you're standing alongside of them making way for them, encouraging them, we're guilty too. "The so-called brother if he's an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler, don't even eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging outsiders"? He said the ungodly are ungodly. "Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves". Gotta stop worrying about others and start considering yourself. The most important example of leadership in your life is your self-leadership. Begin there.

I don't like to deliver religious lectures. If I wanted to do that, I'd stay in the university. I love making a journey with people and getting to know the Lord better. I want to pray with you. Let's offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God. We want his best in our lives. Let's pray:

Father, I thank you that you love us, that you have a purpose for us. I pray that you'll give us understanding hearts and eyes to see what you've called us to be. We offer ourselves to you today. We want to serve you with all that we are and all that we have, in Jesus' name, amen. God bless you.

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