Is It Wrong to Desire Influence?

Most chapters in Explosive Preaching prompt me to think of several posts.  Hopefully Boyd-MacMillan will forgive my leaning on his book for ideas so often in recent weeks in exchange for my encouragement to others to buy it for themselves.  Chapter 28 in the book is a chapter that stands out as unlike anything I’ve come across in other preaching books (I appreciate that, as I also get feedback that this blog contains things not found in preaching books too!)


Is it wrong to desire it?  This chapter focuses on three very diverse preachers – Billy Graham, Martin Luther-King Jr and Robert Schuller.  The author writes, “They all became influential preachers.  But they all wanted to become influential preachers.  They were not modest in their desire for influence, nor bashful in the way that they sought to extend their influence.” (p237)

He goes on to write under several headings: the sermon, the person, the wave, the moment, the movement, the network, the event.  His conclusion, the lesson he learns from these men is “if you want to be an influential preacher, then don’t just preach a great sermon!” He sees their concern with reception and reverberation.  Reception refers to their making sure that their words were heard optimally.  Reverberation meant ensuring that their words would be heard long after delivery.

I suppose this is a matter of prayerful balance.  We desire to influence others as good stewards of the ministry that God gives us.  Yet we feel very uncomfortable at the suggestion that we should pursue influence (or “success” in any human measurement).  I know this post could prompt a strong reaction.  I suspect it may get a reaction that is unfair to the book that prompted the post.  I would encourage you to read the book.  I would encourage you to prayerfully wrestle with the issues raised in this post.  Fleshly or spiritual, a desire for influence is very real in most of us – let’s not ignore that, but rather prayerfully wrestle with the issue.

2 thoughts on “Is It Wrong to Desire Influence?

  1. ***Yet we feel very uncomfortable at the suggestion that we should pursue influence (or “success” in any human measurement).***

    I would disagree. We use technology in our church that makes every message available in several digital formats, specifically so that it can gain the widest audience possible at the time.

    It is also the reason I write on my blog. It is primarily a teaching blog, with personal stuff thrown in from time to time.

    Even the apostle Paul sought every change he could to stand before kings and people of influence – specifically because they were people of influence.

    The more we can have the ears of the “influencers”, the greater the chance we have for having influence outside of our (normally) narrow circles.

  2. If the pursuit to be influential means enlarging our platform so that we can proclaim undiluted truth, that’s fine with me.

    But if it means we have to dilute the message to satisfy itching ears (2 Tim.4:3), then I don’t want any part in it.

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