Effective Leadership: Exercising Power versus Influence

There’s a little known Bible story with a valuable lesson about power and influence.

It has almost a Grimm’s Fairy Tale quality to it and is found in 2 Kings 11-13 and 2 Chronicles 24:15-22.

Here’s a summary:

Athaliah, the wicked queen mother of king Ahaziah, seizes the throne of Judah when king Ahaziah is assassinated. And she proceeds to kill all possible heirs to secure her rule. But one of those heirs, Joash, an infant, is whisked away and hidden in the temple where he is raised by Johioada the priest.

When Joash turns seven, Johoiada the priest, publically produces him, announces him king, and Athaliah is seized and put to death.

As king of Judah, Joash now has supreme power. But it is the influence of Jehoiada the priest that governs how he rules.

According to 2 Kings 12:3, Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him.

If you read to the story’s conclusion, you learn that after Jehoiada dies, Joash reverses his behavior, morally degrades into a wicked king and is eventually assassinated.

Which leads to a principle:

Power Comes By Position, Influence Comes Through Relationship

So often in business and so often in life, we miss this subtle, but crucial difference. The importance it plays in building a healthy team and organization. And the impact on effective leadership.

Just because you have authority. Just because you’re in a decision-making role, can say because I said so, and demand allegiance. It doesn’t mean you have allegiance. Or guarantee those who follow you will fully and enthusiastically carry out your orders.

And if those who follow you are not all in. If they don’t embrace the direction you’re leading and enthusiastically carry it out…then you’re going nowhere.

To achieve this level of teamwork and unity, you must establish trust. You must develop and foster genuine relationships. You must exert influence.

Strength Of Character And Relationship Impact Your Level Of Influence

It’s not spelled out in the text. But the inference is clear. Jehoiada was like a father to Joash. He cared for him, loved him and raised him like a son.

As a priest, Jehoiada also loved and served God. He obeyed God’s teachings. He demonstrated Godly character. And his teachings and character rubbed off on Joash.

Since Jehoiada wanted to please and serve God, Joash wanted to please and serve God too.

Another influence story is found in John 1:40-51. At the onset of his ministry, Jesus calls his disciples. One of the first ones is Andrew, who afterward immediately finds his brother, Peter and introduces him to Jesus too.

Peter…the guy Jesus called a rock. The guy who became a significant leader in the Christian movement and influence on the church. But it was his brother, Andrew that paved the way.

What if that hadn’t happened?

Could someone else have influenced Peter to go meet Jesus?

Hard to say.

But obviously, Andrew could and the strength of that family relationship played a part in leading Peter to discipleship.

So here are a couple of questions to consider:

What relationships do you have where you can and should exert influence?

Some are stronger than others. Which ones can you and should you maximize to accomplish what and for what reasons? And never underestimate the impact your influence might have.

What areas of personal character should you address for improved credibility in order to maximize your influence?

The strength of Jehoiada’s character impacted Joash. The strength of your character will also impact the level of your influence.

And keep in mind. You don’t have to be in a position of authority to be an effective leader or make a positive impact on someone else.

Jehoiada the priest had no power or authority. But his influence impacted the welfare of an entire kingdom. Andrew’s influence impacted an entire religion.

Just food for thought.

Chip Tudor is Professional Copywriter,
Pastor, Author and Playwright.

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  1. submitted by Kirk Lithander - on November 15 2017

    Thanks for highlighting the difference between positional authority and relational influence. Effective leadership is all about relationships.

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