The Downside of Influence


Influence is a worthwhile pursuit with the power to change individuals, organizations, communities, even entire civilizations.

It can, of course, be used for good or evil. And the allure of influence can be deceptive. But good people with an important message should still pursue it.

For example, I desire Becoming Minimalist to be an influential place where people are introduced to a better way of living—a way of life that removes the pursuit of material possessions and focuses on longer-lasting pursuits.

I desire to influence as many people as possible with this important truth.

Influence is a powerful, world-changing pursuit.

But it is important to be aware of its downsides.

Almost by default, influence carries the potential to change the holder. And because it does, those who possess it must regularly seek to keep their motivation in the proper place.

It is not an untold story. In fact, we know it well. A well-intentioned man or woman sets out with the purest of intentions: to make a difference and change their family, community, or world for good.

Then, something amazing happens. They actually succeed.

People are quickly impressed and attracted to their accomplishments. They begin to attract more influence. More influence begins to attract new opportunities—some healthy, some unhealthy. Temptations get stronger. And when internal motivation is not kept in alignment with healthy pursuits, trouble quickly follows.

Our motivation must be kept purely in check at all times. And all the more as our influence begins to grow.

We must constantly remind ourselves that we are not above temptation. We are just as susceptible to the pursuit of money or power or selfish desires as the next guy or gal. We are not above it. We are only human.

We must continually remind ourselves why we do what we do. Our longings are greater than money and possessions. We desire influence not as a means to achieve personal success or recognition. We desire influence motivated by love—love for others and love for a better way to live.

We must routinely evaluate our motives. This can be difficult. The slow growth of unhealthy motivation in our hearts and minds can be difficult to decipher. Often, the eyes of a friend or family member can notice them before our own. Humbly pursue the truth. Ask the hard questions of yourself and others. And remove your first defensive response to those answers.

May your influence continue to increase. May it bring about good in your homes, workplaces, and local communities. But as it does, may your motivations always be kept pure—not just for your own sake, but also for the sake of those we seek to reach.

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