Leadership is Influence and not just authority! This quote taken from Ken Blanchard is precisely what is required for today’s young adults who have become the new mentors, spiritual leaders, big brothers and sisters to an upcoming generation that has become dominated by cancellation rather than articulation. Generation Z falls into an era of being born into a war on terror, recession, and smartphones. Can we blame them? When doctrines and decrees are divided not just among church settings but have infiltrated our governmental systems and legislation, it’s no wonder why there’s such confusion of identity and self-worth. So what can a young adult generation do in order to step into the arena of this discord and provide some reason and direction? This generation has overlooked my generation (Gen X) to go the way of the dinosaur but Gen Z’s are still clinging to those who are leading the charge as young adults (Millennials/Gen Y). It will take influential leaders in various contexts who are unashamed to hold on to the profession of their faith while maintaining a God-shaped love that reminds them where they came from.
This type of influence is needed now more than ever. Taking the place of influence are products that promote a debased mind and artist who portray an image of self-absorption. Instead, we need young men and women who are full of character and vision that embodied selflessness, grace, long-suffering, hope, and faith. This high calling is marked by your willingness to surrender to the notion that what you presently know is not best. What’s best is God’s best because it is given not earned. The following are just some of the ways that every young adult can become an influence on a generation who looks up to them.
“What’s best is God’s best because it is given not earned.”
1. Stand Out Into The Light
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matt. 5:14
One of the ways we are seen by others is by standing out in the light. All too well have we taken the back row of a classroom or meeting in the hopes of not being recognized by our peers. The background noise has become our instrumental music when we refuse to step out into the light. This is the reason why so many Gen Z’s have followed the outspoken voices of the culture and have allowed them to be shaped by it. Even the apostle Paul dealt with the same issue with the church of Roman when the community exchanged the truth about God for a lie and would rather worship and serve the creature rather than the creator (Romans 1:25). Moses was found to be in the presence of God on Mount Sinai and when he descended with the two tablets his face was radiated from speaking with the Lord. It takes radical radiance for others to see the truth.
The challenge of being exposed to the light is what you were created for! Shine bright and don’t hide yourself from the shame of the past or pressures in the future. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden because its structures are visible throughout the land. Your presence is vital to revealing the darkness around you.
2. Give Your Gift Away
“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God.” 2 Tim. 1:5
We’ve become a society that has forgotten where we came from. As a son who was raised by a grandmother, I will never forget the influence she had on my faith. I recall a time during my teenage years when I first began to explore my faith and how it was tested by others to the point that I wanted to cave into the pressure. She reminded me that my journey would encounter these obstacles but how hope is an anchor to the soul when it’s attached to faith (Heb. 6:19). It’s fitting how the passage written to young Timothy from his mentor Paul is reminding him of the heritage of faith that has shaped his own. As a young adult, remind yourself of where you have been by who you have been with. In Timothy’s case, the matriarchs have provided the foundation of his faith and the ability to fan the flame of the gift of God.
The reason why so many Gen Z’s have attached themselves to an idea or viral video is they see how much influence it has on others. It’s the reason why Tik Tok has grown to over 650 million active users and 62% of those users are between the ages of 10 and 29 years old. We need young adults who are fanning into flame the gift of God that now becomes the new trend. Jesus seems to be only trending when it’s convenient but can I remind you that your faith is generational and is made to go viral. Your gift is given so that others may enjoy it.
“Your gift is given so that others may enjoy it.”
3. Grow Into Your Role
“So that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.” 1 Th 1:7–8.
As an influencer, it takes time to develop and deploy a strategy good enough so that others will take notice. Marketing and managing content creation can become a labor of love but if executed correctly can draw in a large audience. This all hinges on your type of budget and goals that target a specific demographic. The church of Thessalonica became an example to believers living right in their hometown and even to their neighbors before their influence could ever reach further beyond their borders. Instead of attempting to become an overnight success, start with the community where you currently reside. Your voice has more influence when you speak rather than yell. I’ve yelled at my teenager before and rather than getting results has just produced resentment and shame. Stop yelling when you should be just speaking.
What does this have to do with our Generation Z population? By becoming influential right in our own sphere of friends or community, a snowball effect now begins to take form and others will eventually take notice. This type of compound interest is the example that triggers others to want to follow in your footsteps as an example to all believers that have cared for the least of these (Matt. 25:40). Influence can be broken up into stages that progress from attention to connection and lastly to direction. Grab the attention of your friends by your example, connect with them on a personal level and finally, give them the necessary direction for a God-centered life.
4. Just Be Yourself
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” Romans 12:9
When we look at the top trending movements of our generations, we see a reoccurring pattern that goes back to the premise of authenticity. From 2005 to 2008, MySpace was the largest social networking site in the world that would have the ability to create a profile page where you could express your interest and connect with people globally. It wasn’t until later that Facebook would replace MySpace and revolutionize the concept of friendship to all-new levels. We are a people created for connection yet we sometimes generate profiles of ourselves that aren’t truly displaying who we are. I’m constantly receiving false Facebook imposters who claim to be someone who they are not. The tendency to cover up and misrepresent the truth is birth out of a need for self-recognition. We desire for others to take notice of us yet we are just perpetuating the false idea of true authenticity. This type of love is a mere shadow that Paul is speaking about in the above quoted verse. It’s a warning to the church that an outward display of love that doesn’t conform to the nature of God’s love, is not real love.
Real love should demonstrate to others that it brings life and value into the relationship. Just how a simple profile may contain a false name, picture, or pedigree, our lives must be genuine so that love may be discovered. Back in the day, we called those who put up a false façade, “Fronting,” acting like someone you’re not. Just be the best version of yourself as influencers to a Generation that is constantly mimicking anyone with an ounce of clout.
“Real love should demonstrate to others that it brings life and value into the relationship.”
Being influential as a young adult is a calling that each one of you is equipped to take to the next generation. It’s a demonstration of vulnerability and honest reflection to a younger generation that is seeking to find an identity. The life of a Christian is caught and taught! Be the influencer who leads out of compassion yet is willing to be taught in the process. The key to being a good influence isn’t shaped from a place of isolation or authority but genuine relationships with next-gen leaders. Be the influence!