I have a good friend who has talked about influence for as long as I’ve known him. He values it. He doesn’t take it lightly. He is patient in pursuit of it. He believes it is given not taken. And he is passionate about it’s role in each of our lives as we live out the calling God has given us.
But, despite his passion & conviction, even after two years of conversations about influence with my friend I hadn’t resonated with the idea. It was one of those “that’s a nice thought, I’m really glad you’re passionate about” kind of things.
Influence is currently reigning as a buzz word. We use it as a marketing pitch, condemn it for making us prideful, blame it for burnout, strategize to grow our own, and put it in our book titles. But it’s also one of those concepts that I think for many remains an abstract idea we can’t quite wrap our heads around. Something about my friend’s passion for the idea of influence kept me believing it was more than just a nice idea.
I was pretty excited to tell my friend the other day that the concept of influence had finally resonated with me.
I got a call a week or so ago from a friend that ended a few days later with what, in hindsight, I realized was me leveraging the influence I have been given to help someone else live out their God given calling.
When that realization hit me I was both excited & scared to death. Influence is heavy. It comes with great responsibility to steward well. Because it’s a gift…and not one for my benefit but for that of others. It is given only that it may be given away.
Has influence become more than just a nice idea for you? How are you giving it away?
“Artists are often found at the margins of society, but they are, like the shepherds, often the first to notice the miracles taking place right in front of us.” (27)
“The arts can tap into multiple irreconcilable realities at the same time, rooted deeply within the cultural soil. Artists often expose the tension between these competing points of view, but they also provide the potential to resolve various perspectives at the same time. But just like China, good art may raise more questions than provide simplistic answers.” (34)
The intersection of art & leadership. I’ve been thinking about this for some time and when I read the two passages above in Makoto Fujimura’s Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art, and Cultureit came to me. Artists may not often be leaders in the traditional sense. They may not be the CEOs, CFOs, Directors, Senior Pastors, and so on. But they are leaders in a different way. They are leaders in thought. They may not be the ones making the decisions but they are the ones the decision makers go to for advice in the decision making process. Their art & insight gives them influence which in turn places on them a responsibility. A responsibility to lead.
When we look back 10…20..30 years from now, I think we will see that the true influencers…the true leaders…have been artists. Leaders because they can expose tension yet also provide potential resolution. Leaders because they ask questions rather than provide simplistic answers…good questions that propel a community…a people…a society…forward. Leaders because they expose the need for change & then inspire it. Influencers because they’re artists. Because they see the miracles many miss. Miracles that are the signs of God’s moving here on earth. And the great thing about artists is that oftentimes, like the shepherds, they’re so excited that they can’t keep the news to themselves.
Do you think there is a place where art & leadership intersect?
*This is the eleventh post in a series of twenty. For more on the background, check out this post.