As part of a recent news story, a Christian spokesperson was quoted authoritatively as a leader in our movement. He was given this platform because – as his online bio indicates – he is a thought-leader and social media influencer. Never mind he has never led a church, directed an organization, had to meet a budget, or handle complicated personnel issues. He is recognized as a leader because he is clever in short electronic bursts.
Another influencer intrigues me because of her six figure income earned through her social media coaching. She has close to a million people who live by her recommendations. Several companies pay her significant stipends to mention their products. Doing little more than telling other people what to think - it’s an amazing way to make a very good living.
Who influences you? Who do you follow? And why? Everyone has mentors, but I’m old school enough to want mine to have substance. I learn from people who have actually done something – not just thought up ways to tell others what to do. My conviction about this shows up in a range of ways – from the people I ask for leadership advice to the faculty we employ at Gateway.
We select faculty because they are smart, thoughtful, intellectually stimulating people. But they must also have ministry experience – enough to keep them from living in an academic ivory tower. They are better qualified professors because of their real-world ministry experiences.
You are likely reading books, going to conferences, following people on social media, or even attending seminary. That’s good. You should be curious, always learning and improving. Just be sure you choose influencers who have a proven track record supporting their supposed theoretical insight about life and ministry.
In short, follow people who have actually done something significant – not just learned creative ways to tell others what to think or do.