By Ryan Rice
As pastors, we can be tempted to think our significance and influence within our community is based on the size of our church. But this isn’t the case.
While I’m thankful for the larger churches in our community, size doesn’t necessarily equal impact. The church I pastor isn’t large, nor do we have a massive budget, but God has still called us to stand in truth and love in a culture in need of the gospel message.
When the Apostle Paul wrote to instruct and encourage Timothy, he told him, “But you, man of God, flee from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11).
Notice that Timothy’s significance wasn’t rooted in the size of the church he was shepherding, but in being faithful right where the Lord had called him. Timothy was able to influence the church and the people God placed him around with his life and ministry.
As a young man, Timothy needed to be encouraged to press on, but also, to remember who God had called him to be. Sometimes, we need to be encouraged in these things as well.
So pastors and leaders, take advantage of the following three areas of influence God has entrusted to you.
1. Personal Life
2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith.” We must examine ourselves. The biggest platform we have is our walk with the Lord.
People take notice of how you live your life. Not that we have to put on a show or pretend. However, if you’re married, how do you speak to your wife in public and private?
When you need to correct those whom you lead, do you engage them with grace? If you have kids, can others see the grace of Christ in your parenting?
One of the reasons I respect my former pastor so much is he lived and breathed integrity. He wasn’t perfect, but he pursued Christ and tried his best to live out the gospel.
This gave him great influence in the lives of those around him. People who were in great positions of influence would come to him for counsel and advice.
Pastor, don’t think that your walk with Jesus and your love for family and others are small matters. It’s the main thing. Love well, lead well, and serve well for the glory of God.
2. Social Media
Not everyone is a fan of social media. However, it’s where our culture gets much of its news, entertainment, and even life advice.
The proper use of a social media platform can be an extension of your life and ministry. Many people who scroll through social media don’t attend church, hold a postmodern worldview, and may even be outspoken against the gospel. Social media can be a great tool to influence and even give an apologetic for the Christian worldview.
There’s a right and wrong way, however, to engage on social media. Scripture gives us some great advice on this in James 1:19, which is paraphrased as: “Be slow to speak (post), Be quick to listen, (respond) and let all your engagement, be seasoned with salt.”
I know one pastor who used social media to engage a person who was in a cult. That person began conversing with the pastor online, later attended his church, and then expressed faith and trust in Christ.
That may not happen often, but if we have a platform, we should use it for the glory of God.
3. Preaching and Teaching
You may not be well-known outside of your church when it comes to preaching and teaching, but God has called and set you apart for His glory all the same.
As you stand to proclaim the Word of God, you’re standing under the authority of Scripture. As preachers, we don’t stand to give our opinions, but to rightly divide the Word of God for the people of God.
Charles Spurgeon said, “No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then go home and never preach again until you have something worth preaching.” We have something and Someone worth preaching!
Jesus Christ is still transforming lives. If people leave our church services, Bible studies, or small groups not seeing us, but Christ, we’ve done our job.
Our greatest influence is pointing people to the One who can change their entire life.
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
RYAN RICE, SR. (@ryanricesr) is husband to Seané, father of Ryan, Jr., Brayden, Reagen, and Bailey, and has been in ministry since 2007. He’s currently the lead pastor of Connect Church of Algiers in New Orleans, Louisiana, which they planted in 2014.