A term my generation has coined as their occupation. A term that we have latched onto and deemed as something we are and missed the fact it is something we do.
Honestly, I hate it. I hate that we have reached a place in society that the “k” at the end of your Instagram followers labels you an “influencer.” I hate that teens are looking at the road ahead and believing the lie that to make a difference in this world they need to be elevated and they need to be seen by the masses. I hate that it seems as if the ones being the most productive are the ones posting the most about what they are doing.
All of it is the opposite of how the Kingdom of God works, yet somehow we have been snared by this mentality.
Don’t hear me say that having a large following is bad. Hear me say that when a large following becomes the measurement tool you use to gauge your productivity for the Kingdom you are slipping into being worldly-minded.
Don’t hear me say that people listening to what you have to say is bad. Hear me say that we do not speak because we feel like we ought to just because we know people are listening. We speak because it is an overflow of what is being rooted in our hearts. We speak because we simply cannot be content with not doing so. We speak if one person is listening. We speak if thousands are listening. However, we have fallen into the illusion that speaking only matters if it is loud. Even God Himself meets us with a faint whisper.
“So He said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him…” 1 Kings 19:11-13
When you lean over and whisper to your classmate or your co-worker, that is just as important as the moment someone hands you a microphone. The volume, capacity, and setting of which you are speaking is not the benchmark for the importance of what you are saying. We have come to believe that the louder we are the more productive we are being and it simply not true – or biblical.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5
Meek means quiet. This is something in my personal life I have been praying for. I want to be loud for the sake of the gospel. However, meekness is an attribute that has become a stranger to us. I want to learn how to be loud while still being quiet. Do we know how to be meek? Do we know how to be quiet? We have completely disregarded the fact Jesus promises the quiet will be blessed. It is not that we shouldn’t be loud. The problem is that we have come to think that being loud is the only thing we need to do. Enter into the quiet and still moments with the same drive to make Jesus known as you do the blaring events you attend.
I cannot sit here and point my finger just at the people blindly following these influencers. I cannot just point my finger at the people who are labeled influencers. I cannot just point my finger at those who are glorifying these young adults. The problems lie within them all. The problem lies with us who have for so long talked about how much we hate this mentality, yet then fall right back into it. The problem lies within those who are not speaking against this that are prominent leaders in the church. The problem lies within us all.
What has happened is that we have people looking to these other people, striving to obtain a label they have, all while missing the fact being an influencer is not a fruit of the spirit. We have young girls looking at relationships and throwing around the phrase “goals” while at the same time they are shoving aside the work that needs to be done to cultivate a lasting relationship with Lord.
Right now, the variable we are allowing to determine leadership is popularity. Popularity does not equal leadership. Your character needs to be refined and built up. You need to be pruned. Your large following does not activate your calling. You might not be ready for what is being offered to you. Better yet, you might not be ready for what you want. You will crash and burn if you step into something that your character cannot sustain. You will fail miserably if you step into an opportunity before you learn that intimacy with the Lord will be what will upholds you, not a platform.
Far too many of us are laboring to be seen more, to be heard more, to be known more, thinking that when we get those things then God can use us. You can get the followers. You can get the chances to speak. You can make another deal to partner with a brand. You can get there and still be standing in a garden full of weeds because you failed to realize that the Holy Spirit is what will produce fruit in your life. You can stand in the spotlight, believing that you are showing people Jesus, when really you are only walking in the flesh. They cannot see Him if you are getting in the way.
The way they see Him is by seeing the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit are evidence that you are taking your rightful place as the branch and letting Him be the vine. [John 15] A branch gets everything it needs from the vine: saps, minerals, nutrients. A branch does not ache for anything other than the what the vine has to offer it. Too many of us are trying to be the vine because we do not like the humility it requires to be a branch.
The way people will really see Jesus through you is the way you love.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35
There is good influence and there is bad influence.
If I am an influencer and I don’t love people well…
If I am an influencer but I am not patient…
If I am an influencer but I am not kind….
Then I am a bad influence. You can very well take on the name influencer you might be desiring but you can also quickly start to create an environment around you that is not beneficial for others.
We must come to remember that relevance can never dismiss reverence. Relevance says it’s all about me. Reverence says I have deep respect for something I acknowledge that is greater than I am.
This term “influencer” it is soaked in relevance. God doesn’t want you to be an influencer. God wants you to be the child. God doesn’t use influencers. God uses the child. That dear one is the title you should be desiring the most – child.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
I don’t know what it will take for us to rid the Christian culture of the term “influencer” but I know that I am going to be committed to shepherding this younger generation behind me, and even my peers in a way of thinking that is counterculture.
A way of thinking that says Lord let my knees be dirty because I am always in a posture of bowing. Let my head be down, blinded by the glory of your presence, to where I can’t even see who is following me. I only want to focus on Who is in front of me. A way of thinking that say, make me quiet Lord because when I am quiet you can be loud. A way of thinking that says change my heart, not my status.
We must stop craving influence more than we crave intimacy with Jesus.
There are a lot of things I hope people say about me one day when I am gone. I hope people say I cared, I was sincere, I was welcoming, etc. but being named as an “influencer” is not one of the things I hope people say. So no, don’t call me an influencer. Just call me a Jesus follower.
All I am is a twenty-three-year-old, small town girl, living this incredible, out-of-control, ship-afloat life, and learning how to trust Jesus a little more every day. I am just a passenger in Christ’s journey, the voice, and vessel for someone so much greater than myself.