A life of transparency with others has the benefit of encouraging us to be transparent with God about our lives as well. It is not that God needs our help in this – He is fully aware of who we are and where we struggle. He does not need our transparency but we do. Not as a matter of guilt but as a matter of knowing where He is gently (sometimes not so gently) prodding us to move closer to him and away from the distractions of self and sin.
Understanding our own hearts, our particular vulnerabilities (our shadow side) and areas where we need to grow spiritually keeps us from pride, from self-satisfaction, from the often unbiblical view of life and success and keeps us grounded in our need of His grace and presence. All of us would like to think that we are better than we are, more mature than we are and less vulnerable than we are. When we measure our lives against the truth of His word we realize that none of that is true. We need God desperately and one another deeply. Our hearts – by themselves – are prone to mislead us regarding our true spiritual condition.
The moment we start to fool ourselves about our own lives we begin to compromise our influence. This is why it is so critical to take the time regularly to examine our own lives, motives, priorities, and thinking – being as honest with ourselves as we can. We often avoid such analysis because it can be painful but ironically it is part of the path to deep influence because it is in our need for His grace and the ongoing transformation of our lives through His Spirit that our lives have the most influence.
Such self and spiritual understanding gives our lives authenticity and authenticity gives us influence because there is an inherent integrity to lives that embrace truth rather than self-deception. Here is an interesting question to ponder: Where are you most likely to be self deceived? It is an “ouch” question but one that merits personal analysis. Self deception comes in many varieties and we are each prone to our own areas of deception that unless understood become spiritual traps robbing us of influence.
On this count, there are a growing number of men and women who have a “spiritual mentor:” a mature and insightful individual who has permission to probe their spiritual lives and ask the kinds of questions that cause them to think deeply. This is not about having someone tell them what to do or God’s will for their life, or taking the place of the Holy Spirit. It is about asking the probing questions that help discern the spiritual crevices of their lives.
People of deep influence are people of truth. They seek truth in their lives, in their relationship with God, in their relationships and in their work. The pursuit of truth is a Godly pursuit. Remember that the evil one is the father of lies. As citizens living in a fallen world we are prone to believe those lies. As citizens of heaven we are committed to pursuing truth.
Truth comes to us through the Word of God and the practice of meditation on His word where we measure His word against our own lives. It comes to us through the Holy Spirit who is our counselor and “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16). And it comes to us through close, trusted friends who are given permission to speak into our lives even when the words are hard to hear. People of deep influence have those people, listen to God’s Spirit and spend significant time in God’s word. They are pursuers of truth in all of life.
In the pursuit of truth and wisdom, there is no substitute for a lifelong study of the Wisdom literature in the Old Testament: Job, Psalms, and Proverbs. What passes for wisdom in our world is often foolishness to God and vice versa. Saturating ourselves in wisdom and truth becomes a filter through which we view the messages that come to us on a daily basis regarding wisdom and success. The wisdom of the Kingdom is foolishness to the world. The juxtaposition of a “fool” in God’s eyes with the “wise” is sobering when one considers how our society defines both kinds of people.
These books challenge us to understand the fear of the Lord by following him in all arenas of life and to examine our hearts, motives and followership continually. They help us understand the holiness of God and His heart of truth and grace. They are a goldmine of wisdom for those who desire deep influence with others.