“The truest measure of leadership is influence.” –John C. Maxwell
It might be one of the most shocking stories in the biblical account of the Numbers. Moses sends twelve tribal leaders from Israel to spy out the land of Canaan and to bring back a report. Upon their return, all twelve leaders agree that the land is very good. But ten of the leaders concluded there was no way Israel would be able to defeat the nations which presently occupied Canaan. The story provides incredible insight regarding the value of faith but also highlights the importance of leadership and influence. Understanding influence is essential for effective leadership.
5 Realities of Influence
1. Positional influence is limited
Understanding influence is essential for effective leadership.
The reality was, Joshua and Caleb were leaders in the tribes of Ephraim and Judah. The problem was that their influence didn’t reach beyond their tribes.
In fact, it appears they couldn’t even influence their own tribe! Positional leadership has limited influence.
2. Influence can be positive or negative
We don’t know what the people were thinking as they were waiting for the spies, but it’s safe to assume that they must have been excited. If the spies came back and gave a good report, the people would have gone in and taken the land, but the leaders who returned were negative. Out of the 12 leaders that went, 10 used their influence in a negative way, and the results were disastrous for them and the people who believed them.Good leaders embrace the responsibility of lifting every meeting and establishing a mindset of faith, vision, and enthusiasm.
3. Influence can add value
Every leader has a choice when it comes to using his or her influence. A leader can either manipulate people or motivate people. Manipulation is when a leader uses their influence to achieve selfish means.
Every leader has a choice when it comes to using his or her influence.
Almost always the manipulation comes as truth is shaded and perspective is spun. Motivation, on the other hand, is when a leader uses their influence for the glory of God and the good of others. Ten of the leaders used their influence to manipulate the people and cultivate fear because they were afraid themselves. They even lied to the people and said, “The land we explored devours those living in it.” Joshua and Caleb sought to motivate the people to do what was right, to do what would honor God, and to do what would benefit the nation of Israel.
4. Great influence comes with great responsibility
As leaders, we are not only responsible for the actions of those who follow us; but in a very real sense, we have a responsibility for their spiritual vitality.
How we walk with God, the strength of our faith, and the words we speak have a significant impact on the lives of those around us.
How we walk with God, the strength of our faith and the words we speak have a significant impact on the lives of those around us.
The ten unfaithful tribal leaders probably didn’t intend to start a rebellion or create division, but that is what they did. Following their negative report, the people were ready to kill Moses and Aaron and return to Egypt. As a result of their misused influence, over two million people died in the desert instead of entering the Promised Land.
5. Influence is a choice
At times, people go through an experience where they are ineffective in their leadership and, as a result, they are fearful of leading again. Joshua made a choice not to give up. He desired to become a better leader. He made the choice to continue being an influencer and because of that, he would later get a second chance.