Summary: Desire to have lasting influence? if you don’t have a firm footing, you won’t get very far. 1.)Influence is built on reputation, but, 2.)Reputation comes from Godly character, so, 3.)Godly character leads to lasting influence.
Series: Vertigo: Discovering Your Direction through Service:
1.The Way Up is Down
3.A Little Does a Lot
Written by Steve Miller, with prep and collaboration through the NRHC Carolina Network, (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Imagine if we were suddenly on ice. You would definitely be scared, inching your way to the exit. You might even want to help someone else, but without firm footing of your own, you just can’t get very far very fast.
Now imagine if you are on thin ice with some moral issue in your life. When it comes to helping other people you’re not going very far. If people see that you have some slippery moral issues they’re not going to trust you. …Some vulgar inconsistencies in your testimony, Your influence in their lives doesn’t go anywhere.
Take for instance Mel Gibson’s unfortunate situation. You’ve heard of assignation of character? Don’t bother, this was character suicide. And it points out that even if we desire to be a positive Christian influence in the world around us, and we don’t have a firm footing or a Godly stability of character, then we may actually lose ground.
Mel is just an easy target for us today. But any time you don’t use firm footing, you’re setting yourself up for a fall. If you desire to have Christian influence on others, character counts!
Today we’re going to look at some of the first leaders selected by the church. And what you’ll find is that they chose people of Godly character.
The church needed leaders to help with food distribution, but what they got was a lot more than just waiters. These servants were great influencers for the kingdom of God. These men teach us that the level of influence you can have is directly related to how solid your character is.
There is an eternal truth at work here: Influence is built on reputation, reputation comes out of Godly character, Godly character leads to lasting influence.
I. Influence is built on reputation
A. Read again 6:3…Reputation was one of the first prerequisites for selecting leaders. (NIV omits this word) They had to have a good reputation before they were going to have Godly influence in the kingdom.
B. Does that mean that the reputation I am stuck with limits me as a leader? (There are numerous examples where people have been able to change their reputation…Mary Magdalene and Paul to name a couple)…But …
1. Unfortunately, the answer is yes. (Mary and Paul really never got away from their pasts) Like it or not, your influence on those around you is highly tainted by your reputation. It is the inescapable truth that our past can haunt us. As Christians your sins are forgiven, but more often that not we must live with the natural consequences of our sins.—you can be a forgiven murderer in the eyes of God and still spend the rest of your natural life behind bars for that crime.
It is the same when it comes to our character. If you become loose with truth-telling, or gossiping, if you’re not dependable, you may never recover a reputation that will allow you to become a highly effective leader.
“If you lose your testimony, you will be fortunate if you live long enough to restore it”—J. Hunt
2. We must be protective of our character and we must test the character of our church leadership: That is why Paul recommends a list of character tests for church leader such as deacons and elders in his epistles to Timothy and Titus. 1 Timothy 3:1-7 (NLT)
3. But what if I want to change? What if I’ve got a bad reputation that no longer fits who God grown me to be? What if I have walked too often on morally thin ice, but I want to turn that around? What if I want God to use me but everyone keeps throwing my past back in my face?
There is hope for you. Christ is in the recreating business and His church understands all about receiving and giving grace.
You should recall that Peter devastated his leadership among the other Apostles, and certainly felt like he could never serve the Lord again because he deserted and denied the Lord after His arrest. And yet, the resurrected Christ lovingly reinstated him into full time service, and His influence is often characterized by his failures.
The gospel is that when you accept Jesus, he recreates you, and puts you into the service He has designed for you, warts and all.
Trans. That promise however never gives us a license to play fast and loose with our reputation; remember, influence is built on reputation.
II. Reputation comes out of Godly Character