You’ve probably experienced it before.

You were met with resistance and even hostility from those you lead. In your attempt to bring about real change you encountered some real pushback.

Or perhaps you wish your influence was greater than it is right now. You long for that promotion or to be asked to take on a new initiative.

Whatever situation you find yourself in, let me ask you a question.  If you were to get that promotion…

Would your peers feel relieved? Would they welcome your continued support or fear your new position of influence?

Here’s the truth…

The greatest threat to your future influence is your current ability to serve others.  If your co-workers don’t welcome your help now, they will hate it when you’re their authority later. 

Today we are tackling one of the greatest obstacles to your future influence. Your current ability to serve others. Here are three tangible ways to combat this obstacle.

1. Caring must be your motive.

Your motives matter.  People will easily see through acts of service that have strings attached.
If you serve others to advance your position, you’ve missed the heart of serving. Serving isn’t about you. It’s about caring to help another, even if it doesn’t advance you.

Next time you are deciding whether or not to serve someone, evaluate your motives. This doesn’t necessarily have to stop your action but it could redirect and refine your heart.

Ask yourself, what made me decide to do this NOW?

  • Was your boss in the room?
  • Were you positioning yourself because you needed to ask for a future favor?
  • Did you want to manipulate someone’s perspective about you?

Don’t be surprised if your motives are mixed.  Serving isn’t an all-or-nothing scenario. The key is to redirect your heart when you realize impure motives are present. If you realize serving another might be an opportunity to look good in front of your boss, redirect and make sure you do it when she isn’t present.

If you need help with a project but realize you haven’t offered to help anyone else.. don’t try to manipulate the situation.  Be real. Just ask for the help you need and hold onto what it feels like to be in need.

The result is you’ll feel grateful instead of justified. You’ll appreciate what someone has done for you, even if it didn’t help them. Empathy is a great teacher.

2. Prayer must be your guide.

No one likes a know-it-all.

When someone always seems to know what you should be doing and readily has the “right” answers on the tip of their tongue…

It’s difficult to WANT to hear from that person; even if they are right.

However, it is a drastically different experience when you have someone in your corner who takes the time to listen to you and pray for you. I don’t mean the ‘I’ll pray for your upcoming meeting, project, difficult conversation, or decision’ on the fly.

I mean the person who takes the time to really listen to your struggles and begs God on your behalf. They pray, listen, and reflect on your behalf because they are looking for answers beyond their own wisdom and ego. They allow prayer, and ultimately Christ, to be their guide.

Prayer is a powerful guide when you serve others. It forces you to look beyond yourself and trust that Jesus knows best. Even if it takes longer.

When you give advice, void of prayer….. you give your thoughts. Hopefully, these thoughts are influenced by Christ. And sometimes your gut reactions are aligned with Jesus. But…

When you give prayer, you intentionally take the time to filter your thoughts through Christ. Christ’s thoughts aren’t always our thoughts. And including more of Jesus is always a good idea.

3. Sacrifice must be your motto.

Jesus came to serve, rather than be served. Sacrifice wasn’t His catchphrase. It was His mission.

Great leaders, Godly leaders, have come to the conclusion that they exist for the benefit of others. Their calling to lead is a calling to sacrifice for the good of others.

Your future influence will hinge upon your ability to grasp this truth. Your leadership isn’t about you. It’s about them. Serving and loving those Christ has entrusted to you.

Today, your view of influence might be void of real sacrifice. Jesus probably didn’t consider it a sacrifice to speak before large crowds or share the wisdom from His father…. free of charge.

Real sacrifice meant leaving the throne of heaven for the love of man. It demanded loving those who would betray Him; choosing to focus on the image of God in others when He knew the wretchedness of their heart’s.  It meant being so in love with His people that their rebellion brought Him to the cross, not to their destruction.

Your future influence will demand you sacrifice for others. It will necessitate personal cost.

If you want to be a leader worth following, you don’t need to always have the best ideas, plans, or vision. You need to be the one willing die on the hill for your people.

This servant leadership likely won’t be evidenced by one grand act of sacrifice, but through a daily choosing to love others over yourself. Choose today to serve others well and tomorrow you may be the person who can influence them for the kingdom.