This blog was written during Atlanta’s 2020 racial strife…
My heart breaks for our nation and the great city of Atlanta. We must unite and create positive change. The time is now. It’s time to love. It’s time to lead. But how? Where do we start? I’m going to make a bold statement. Maybe even provocative. You may not want to hear it. But here it goes.
The solution doesn’t begin with what we do, it begins with who we know.
The world will not change unless your heart changes first. The only person that can change the human heart, bring it from death to life is Jesus. If I’ve piqued your interest at all, I recommend you keep listening or reading. If not, I get it. You can tune me out or turn me off. But if I’ve got your attention and you want to learn how a transformed life can transform the culture, stay with me. . .
The solution doesn’t begin with what we do; it begins with who we know.
If you’re a believer and disciple of Christ, your mandate is to make more disciples and influence the culture. A discipled leader’s conversion to follow Jesus must be demonstrated in your daily life and not be kept private. Through your transformed life, you must impact your world. Discipled leaders transform cultures through their own transformed lives.
Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13–16 ESV).
To be salt means to preserve the culture. To be light means to show the way. To be both means to influence your entire world. As J. I. Packer wrote, “Christians are to involve themselves in all forms of lawful human activity . . . . As Christians thus fulfill their vocation, Christianity becomes a transforming cultural force.”
Can something so large and complex as a culture—even your work culture—be transformed? Yes! But it starts with you. In How Now Shall We Live?, Charles Colson, former special counsel to President Richard Nixon and founder of Prison Fellowship and Breakpoint, wrote:
“Cultures can be renewed—even those typically considered the most corrupt and intractable. But if we are to restore our world, we first have to shake off the comfortable notion that Christianity is merely a personal experience, applying only to one’s private life. No man is an island, wrote the Christian poet John Donne. One of the great myths of our day is that we are islands—that our decisions are personal and that no one has a right to tell us what to do in our private lives. We easily forget that every private decision contributes to the moral and cultural climate in which we live, rippling out in ever-widening circles—first in our personal and family lives, and then in the broader society.”
In other words, a discipled leader ought to be the same person on Sunday morning as he or she is on a Monday afternoon. There’s no sacred-secular divide. There’s only being a disciple and leading others toward Christ and discipleship—every day.
It is a discipled leader’s job to take Christ’s message to the world and, through that message and the power of the Holy Spirit, to change lives and change the culture. When you became a disciple of Christ, you became his ambassador and change agent through Christ. “A Christian is a mind through which Christ thinks; a heart through which Christ loves; a voice through which Christ speaks; a hand through which Christ helps.” Through Christ, you can make a difference in the world.
It’s not about a cause; it’s about Christ. Be bold, vocal, and stand for Jesus. Will you join Jesus in the Great Commission of making disciples and transforming the culture?
Do you want to discover how to grow your influence and make a positive difference? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!
 Packer, J. I. Concise Theology.
 Colson, C. How Now Shall We Live?. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 1999.
 Tan, P. L. Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc, 1996, p. 336.
Ever get one of those meeting invites, and something seemed a little fishy? I did.
The meeting invitation subject line read, “Summer Promotion Planning Session.” The purpose of the meeting was for directors, like me, to present our Summer promotion plans to the Marketing Vice President, Edward. No other description or direction was provided.
While Edward was a brilliant and accomplished marketer, he had a reputation for being volatile and flying off the handle at any given moment. He’d been known to verbally abuse his team when someone didn’t know the answer to one of his questions or work didn’t meet his expectations.
I had a number of my peers ask me why we were summoned to the planning session. I told them I had no idea but encouraged them to have their facts together; the meeting could be rough.
Because of a scheduling conflict, I attended the meeting virtually. I logged onto the meeting website, and I could see my peers sitting in the quiet room, looking a little apprehensive. Edward stormed into the room, sat down, and asked who wanted to go first. One poor soul raised his hand to volunteer.
Before the first presenter could get a word out, Edward began peppering the individual with questions. Edward’s tone was condescending and became more intense as the dialogue progressed. The first volunteer didn’t have some of the answers to Edward’s questions.
Edward stopped the individual in mid-sentence and said, “Either you are incompetent, or you don’t care. Which is it?”
I felt like I was watching a shark that smelled blood and began circling its prey.
After a long, uncomfortable pause, Edward said, “You obviously don’t know your business. What are you worth? I ask again whether you are incompetent or don’t care. Which is it?”
The first volunteer’s face was bright red, and steam came out of his ears. However, out of fear, he didn’t respond.
Edward turned to the next person and demanded, “How about you? What are your Summer promotion plans?”
As the next person bravely began presenting, Edward pounced on the individual with pressing questions. The person became flustered and couldn’t spit her words out.
Edward sarcastically asked, “You too? Either you are incompetent, or you don’t care about our business. Which is it?”
Edward then proceeded to ask everyone around the table the same question. When he finished, Edward stood up and said, “I think I made my point. Everyone had better know their facts next time!” He stormed out of the room just as quickly as he entered.
I was spared the berating because I attended virtually, and Edward didn’t call on me. I couldn’t believe what I just saw. It wasn’t right. No one should be marginalized like Edward did to the team; it was utterly demoralizing.
The next day, I told my manager what had happened. He told me that he’d already heard the negative feedback and assured me that Edward’s behavior would be addressed.
Then, I got a wild idea that I could positively influence the situation. I thought to myself, “Meetings don’t have to be like the one Edward just held. They can be productive, effective, and constructive all at the same time while treating people with respect and dignity. Why don’t I volunteer to lead the next plan presentation meeting and show there’s a better way?”
I mentioned the idea to my manager. He paused and asked, “What will you do differently?”
“I’ll let people know upfront what’s expected of them, create a positive environment where ideas can be exchanged, and feedback can be given,” I replied.
My manager smiled and said, “I like it. Let’s give it a try on our next go around.”
To make a long story short, my approach was successful. I reached out to different VPs to align with my proposed format. I developed and provided a plan report template outlining information expectations. Lastly, I facilitated a planning meeting with all of our cross-functional partners in a very positive environment.
I received great feedback, including a note from someone that worked for Edward, “the plans shared today were excellent, and definitely instilled the confidence for success against this critical initiative. Thank you for all of the collaboration with your customers in building out the details.”
Because I influenced the situation, which led to a positive outcome, I was asked to lead other innovation launch and program plan presentation meetings. I proved that there was a better way to do things by treating people with dignity and respect.
As Christians, we are called to be salt and light (i.e., to influence). The Bible says,
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth… Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16 The Message)
It’s our job to shine and influence the world around us. So, what does it mean to be salt and light, to influence? Vocabulary.com defines influence as “the power to have an important effect on someone or something. If someone influences someone else, they are changing a person or thing in an indirect but important way.” To be influential means having the ability to shape and mold people, events, or the environment around you. Influence is leadership.
How do you grow your influence?
- Build Trust. Walk with integrity and establish people’s confidence in you – Do what you say you’ll do. Trust others and be trustworthy.
- Care About Others. People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Treat people with dignity and respect. Take time to listen to people genuinely. Also, determine what interests others and motivates them, and help them get it.
- Lead by Example. Remember, actions speak louder than words.
In the above story, I influenced the situation and the people around me by building trust with the team, creating a positive work environment, treating folks with dignity and respect, and leading by example.
How about you? When you see something that isn’t right, do you have the influence necessary to make a change? If not, what will you do to become influential and make a positive difference in your world (e.g., business, community, school, or church)? If you build trust, care about others and lead by example, you’ll become an influential leader.
Do you want to discover more about becoming an inspirational leader? Please visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!
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I’m a disciple of Christ and an executive at a Fortune 500 Company. In my blog, The Discipled Leader, I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work.
As a certified coach, speaker, and trainer with the John Maxwell Team, I help others grow their relationship with Christ, develop their leadership skills, and understand how they can make a positive difference in today’s chaotic world.
Let me help you reach your potential.
I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work. I invite you to subscribe to my blog and learn how to develop Christlike character, influence your culture and change your world.