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How Young Leaders Can Build Influence in Their Community

Many people have created a career out of “influencing” others. Whether they are posting product reviews on social media, persuading you to shop on Amazon, or promoting the next viral trend, their goal is to set an irresistible example for others to follow. But does their influence really matter?

The reality is that all of us hold influence. If you are a student or young adult, you are a young leader with influence over your peers, teammates, classmates, and authority figures. There is a gravity that comes with the influence you carry, but it is also a gift. 

How Do Young Leaders Build Influence?

If you want your influence to matter, you must ask the Lord what He would want you to do with it. Your influence as a young leader will only have a lasting impact if you commit it to Him. Simply ask Him this question:

“Lord, how do You want to use me right now where I’m at?”

You can use your influence as a student in various ways. Here are just 3 of them:

  • Step into opportunities to lead.

Look for opportunities to lead in the activities you are already involved in and say “yes” as they are presented. You can join the student council at school, participate in community service projects, lead your teammates, join the student leadership team at church, or serve on Sunday mornings. 

  • Receive feedback humbly.

Feedback and constructive criticism are essential for young leaders’ growth. Ensure your heart is open to receiving feedback from your peers, authorities, and the people you lead. Create a safe space for people to be honest by communicating that you want their feedback.

  • Seek to grow.

Once you receive feedback from others, seek to grow in the areas they pointed out. Ask for accountability from trusted friends and mentors and be willing to put their advice into practice.

When you use your influence in these ways, you can set an example for others and show them the love of Jesus through serving them. 

Young Leaders Set an Example for Others

In 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul encourages Timothy to stay committed to his ministry by saying, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

This command came after Paul warned Timothy about people turning away from the faith and trying to lead others astray. He wanted Timothy to find confidence in God’s calling to pursue pastoral ministry. He listed 5 ways for Timothy to set an example for the believers so that they could see God’s work in his life. Paul’s list gives young leaders a template for evaluating whether their actions allow them to set an example for others:

  • Conduct

Do your actions set you apart from the rest of the world?

  • Love

Do your actions communicate the love of Jesus?

  • Spirit

Does your life show the fruits of the spirit?

  • Faith 

Is your faith in Jesus evident despite your circumstances?

  • Purity

Are your thoughts, words, and actions glorifying God?

You don’t have to have a leadership title to influence the people around you. You will naturally stand out from the crowd if you set an example in conduct, love, spirit, faith, and purity. Setting an example this way is how you gain influence and combat the urge to let insecurity consume you.

Young Leaders Serve the Community

Serving other people in your community is one way to set an example, build influence, and share the love of Jesus with others. Students from Abundant Life’s Fusion Student Ministry recently participated in ONEMISSION, where they had the opportunity to serve people from various cultures in Kansas City. 

Some students who participated in ONEMISSION shared their perspectives on how it helped them build influence and relationships among their peers and the people they served. While serving at ONEMISSION, students learned valuable lessons about serving others:

  • Serving allows young leaders to build lasting friendships. 

One student from ONEMISSION commented on the power of serving with other students: “The fellowship formed through fellow believers uniting in a mission to serve and seeing the physical life change of those being served is truly special and has been a great way to form good friendships.”

“The most impactful part of ONEMISSION was getting to truly worship together. Saturday night, we all sat in a room and sang our hearts out with a guitar, and I don't think anyone wanted that moment to end. You could feel God's presence in the room. It was amazing.”

“ONEMISSION provides a unique and accessible way to tangibly live on a mission and serve other cultures without traveling or going on multiple week-long mission trips.” 

“The most impactful part of my experience over the weekend was the unity I saw as we came together to live out the gospel and serve as Jesus did. It was impactful for me to see a body of students come together to live the mission out in a tangible way.”

  • Serving allows young leaders to grow their faith.

“I would say the way I grew most this ONEMISSION was by being focused less on the lifestyle that I know and am used to and am comfortable in, and being willing to be selfless because there are people who are desperate for the gospel, for hope, for peace, and they don’t even always realize that what they need and are searching for is found in Jesus.” 

  • Serving allows young leaders to fulfill the Great Commission.

 “I believe it is important to learn how to share the gospel and serve the local community we have been called to. We have been given the Holy Spirit, and to not serve the people around us that we have been called to love and that God loves would be wasteful of this beautiful life that the good Lord has given us, as well as a fault on our part not to fulfill the most important purpose that God Himself commanded of us. The souls of every person in the world are eternal. If we love God, then we must love anyone in this world, which means sharing hope in Christ with them so that they can know His eternal love.”

I would encourage other students to live on a mission to their community because there is someone everywhere who needs Jesus. When you see the life change God gives, big or little, it will change not only them but you, too, and you will find real joy.”

Takeaway

Consider how you set an example for others and what influence you want on the people following and watching you. Setting an example for others in conduct, love, spirit, faith, purity, and serving selflessly allows you to build a reputation as an influential and impactful young leader.