Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence

Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence


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You have clout. Have you discovered it yet?

It is easy to believe thatpower, influence, and leadership are gifts given to a special few. But theBible says otherwise.

We all long for significance,even as we fear we will never be good enough. We listen for God, but hear onlyvoices of doubt and practicality. Listen again. There is a call that only youcan answer.

Clout is power and influence.It is an undeniable trait that opens doors and moves mountains. You have it,and you can use it to change the world around you. With Scripture and storiesfrom her own life, Jenni Catron maps out the pitfalls and clear paths on theway toward discovering and unleashing your very own clout.

This is not a quest of powerfor power’s sake. Influence is not aguarantee of fame or fortune. It is an opportunity to use your gifts to do theextraordinary. This is a journey toward dismantling what stands in the way ofyour influence and leadership, discovering your God-given clout, and using it toanswer God’s calling on your life.

Learnabout Jesus and others who sought to lead like him. Stop dreaming and startplanning. Define your direction, set your goals, and confront the challengesthat stand between you and the person God made you to be. Step into your sphereof influence with the humble confidence of Christ.

Don’t hide. We need you. Discover your clouthere.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400205684
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 01/14/2014
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 1,203,566
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)

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Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2014 Jennifer Catron a/k/a Jenni Catron
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4002-0569-1



Confronting Fear

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.

—Mark Twain

BRIAN IS AN INCREDIBLY SMART, STRONG, AND confident individual. With a decade of tenure at his company, a robust staff, and the experience and knowledge to substantiate his value to the organization, Brian seemingly had nothing to fear. He was next in line for the executive suite. On the outside looking in, you would assume that Brian was completely confident. He knew how to create a polished exterior that projected self-assurance. Brian and I worked down the hall from each other. It never occurred to me to ask him if he ever wrestled with fear until the day he was handed the pink slip and ushered out the door. In a struggling economy, the company he was loyal to couldn't be loyal to him.

Over lunch a few weeks later, I probed a bit: "did you see this coming?" His response was casual but measured: "I always feared it could happen. Not because I wasn't performing but because I've always lived with a fear that I'm not enough. I've always had an underlying fear that someday I wouldn't be enough. I would make one too many mistakes. I'd miss an important detail. But I didn't expect to be dismissed this way. It makes me question, why wasn't I valuable enough to keep?"

Brian's fears and questions are significant. They represent an underlying tension that challenges our clout every day. Am I enough?

The question is overwhelming because of the numerous fears that underlie it. Our fears are so diverse and so extreme that we're more apt to avoid and ignore them rather than acknowledge that they're there.

In her best-selling book Feel the Fear ... and Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers places fear into three categories. Level 1 fears are those that happen to us (aging or being in an accident) as well as those that require actions from us (changing careers or public speaking). "Level 2 fears have to do with inner states of mind rather than exterior situations" (fear of being rejected or fear of being vulnerable). Level 3 fear is "the biggest fear of all—the one that really keeps you stuck." It is the fear that "I can't handle it!" Jeffers writes, "At the bottom of every one of your fears is simply the fear that you can't handle whatever life may bring you." Or said another way, it's the fear that "I am not enough."

Fear is the front-runner of the clout killers. As we begin to unpack these inhibitors to our confidence and influence, we'll see a consistent theme of fear. Fear tends to coerce its tentacles into all our issues. We fear that who we are is not enough, so we deal with jealousy. We fear not having enough, so we live out of scarcity. We fear not being good enough, so we live with in security. We fear not being strong enough, so we cover it up with pride. We fear not measuring up to others, so we wrestle with comparison. We fear chaos, so we grapple for control. This fear that we can't handle it, that we're not enough, rings true in each of these enemies that impact our influence. What we'll discover is that our greatest fear is true, but there is an even greater truth to replace it.

Do Not Be Afraid

You don't have to be afraid. Easier said than done, right? Again and again in the Bible God told his children not to be afraid. Through a vision, God said,

Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. (Gen. 15:1)

When Hagar and her son Ishmael were banished from Abraham's land, an angel told Hagar, "do not be afraid; God has heard" (Gen. 21:17). When Isaac was expelled from his land by the Philistines and forced to move from place to place, God appeared to him and reminded him, "do not be afraid, for I am with you" (Gen. 26:24). When Jacob was fearful of traveling in his old age, God told him, "do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation" (Gen. 46:3). Numerous times Moses reminded the Israelites not to be afraid because God was with them and would fight for them. And after Moses' death, God made the same commitment to Joshua as he encouraged him to be strong and courageous: "do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go" (Josh. 1:9).

From David to Elijah, from Isaiah to Jeremiah, God continuously reminded his people not to fear. When Joseph considered canceling his engagement to Mary, an angel appeared to him, telling him not to be afraid (Matt. 1:19–20). When Jesus charged the twelve disciples with their responsibility, he told them not to be afraid of those who would seek to harm them for proclaiming the truth (Matt. 10:26–28). From the women gathering at the empty tomb to the disciples seeing the resurrected Jesus, the message was the same: do not be afraid (Matt. 28:5, 10).

In every instance, people faced legitimate fears. But each time God's message remained consistent. It seems God understood that we would wrestle with fear.

Fear Impacts Our Influence

September 11, 2001, was a chilling day for the people of the United States. But for the mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, it was a day that distinctly impacted the trajectory of his leadership influence. For a city facing the most devastating tragedy our country has known, the mayor was at a crossroads of influence. How he handled that moment would redefine his leadership. Everything he had achieved to that point, every ounce of influence he had earned, had prepared him for that moment. Facing his fears quickly was essential to helping lead others through theirs.

May 1, 2010, was the day of my crossroads of influence. As the rain continued to fall and riverbanks overflowed, there was an eerie moment of awareness when I realized the situation was serious. Our great city was flooding, and we had to step up to help. Although inhibited by sporadic cell phone service and the inability to gather in one place, our lead pastor, a few of our staff, and I began to plan how Cross Point Church could help. We knew it was our moment to rise up and provide support and hope to a terrified city.

We often confront our greatest fear at the crossroads of influence. We face our greatest fear at the threshold of our greatest opportunity to make an impact. Not to confront this fear would be to deny who we are created to be. We'd be sabotaging the very calling and purpose we are designed for.

Fear finds us at the edge of the cliff: the moment when we must make a decision. When you find yourself there, do you give in to fear or step out in faith? Fear turns tail and runs. Faith takes the leap. Faith sees beyond the fear and recognizes that you were uniquely designed and created for this moment.

God equips us with plans to use us. Yet I believe that many of us miss opportunities to cultivate our influence because we choose the wrong route at the crossroads of influence. We turn around and run back when faith requires a leap that we're too afraid to take.

One thing that I love about my job is that I have the privilege of helping develop other leaders. I love seeing young leaders grow. But every once in a while they will hit a growth hurdle that they can't overcome. Rarely do they lack the ability. Most often the growth challenge in front of them forces them to confront a fear that they are unwilling to face. Their unwillingness to confront that fear causes them to shrink back or to cover it up. Their attempts to avoid the issue ultimately lead to an erosion of trust with the people they influence.

Alex had the makings of a star staff member. He was passionate about his job. He had inspired vision for where he wanted to lead people. He was eager to step in and provide leadership to a group that had been floundering for some time. As his leader, I was so excited for him and the possibilities of growth ahead. The first year was challenging, but he kept his chin up and pushed through difficult growing pains. But soon I began to notice signs of discouragement in his eyes. Something had changed, but I couldn't pinpoint it. I saw fear instead of excitement and optimism. Where I still saw obvious potential, he saw roadblocks.

Over the next six months the situation deteriorated. I couldn't make sense of why things were spiraling south so quickly. Gradually as I kept engaging him in conversation, he shared that he was terrified of being a failure. He feared that he wasn't capable of doing the job that he had been hired to do. His fear that others would see him as a failure caused him to try to cover it up rather than share that he was struggling. Because he wouldn't confront the fear with truth, many of those he influenced eventually lost trust in him.

Fear Hides

Elizabeth was the victim of childhood sexual abuse. She didn't feel safe and secure in her home; she lived with the daily fear of being victimized. She also lived with the fear of what would happen if anyone found out. Worse yet, she was threatened that if she told others, they wouldn't believe her, and she would suffer the consequences. Elizabeth's fragile young heart couldn't discern the lie within those threats. Because she was terrified of telling anyone about the abuse, those who were best able to help her were kept in the dark and unable to clarify the truth for her.

It's fairly common for children to hide out of fear, but if we carry that tendency into adulthood, we will live in the darkness of untruth. As adults we often try to hide from our fear by ignoring that it's there. Rather than acknowledge it and replace it with truth, we allow ourselves to live with the darkness it creates. We don't want to acknowledge we fear failure, so we cover it up with pride and the drive to perform.

Fear Isolates

During a particularly challenging and stressful season of work, I was wrestling with deep insecurities. Afraid that I wasn't cut out for the level of leadership I held, my mind began spinning off multiple worst-case scenarios, pricking all my greatest fears—fear of failing, fear of being fired, fear of not leading well, fear of making poor decisions, on and on it went. As I lay in bed one night unable to sleep because of the speed at which my mind was racing, I shared my thoughts and feelings with my husband. He was shocked by the emotional load I was carrying. I was amazed at how freeing it was to verbalize my fears. I didn't realize how lonely and isolated I was by wallowing in those fears by myself. Giving voice to them allowed me to share the burden, and more important, my husband had the opportunity to speak truth to the isolation that fear dangerously creates.

In the isolation of our minds, fear can be tormenting. The truth found in 2 Timothy 1:7 is an important reminder: "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (NKJV).

We fear not having enough, so we are scarce with praise and stingy with our resources, which continues to close us off from developing relationships with others.

We fear that others won't love or accept us for who we are. Our imperfections feed our insecurity, so we remain distanced and walled off from others.

When we verbalize fear, it loses its power. Sharing our fear with someone else lessens its power over us.

Fear Paralyzes

Fear can also paralyze us from moving forward. We fear chaos, so our constant need for control causes us to slow things down while we try to get a handle on it. Our need for control can become paralyzing and is extraordinarily dangerous to our leadership and influence. If we're unable to get some sense of control, we may give up altogether.

I have observed this tendency play out with some of the best leaders. Every leader at one time or another gets to a point of feeling paralyzed. If leaders are not coached through it, they will stall—if not kill—their influence and miss their opportunity to live out their God-given influence.

Economist and political adviser John Kenneth Galbraith once said, "All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time." To influence others you have to help move them to new realities and possibilities. You can't take them where you haven't led yourself. You must be willing to confront your fears and lead others through theirs.

Exchanging Fear for Truth

We know how fear affects us. We acknowledge the darkness, isolation, and inactivity that accompany it, but how do we overcome it? We read all the "do not be afraid" scriptures and are more likely to feel guilt for not having the faith to overcome it than find peace in those statements.

But take another look at every time God says, "do not be afraid." Notice that his message doesn't end there. Behind every statement he gives us a reason why we shouldn't fear. "Do not be afraid" technically should be enough because he is God. But he knew that our fears need to be replaced with strong promises. We need to replace fear with truth. Consider the statements of truth that followed "do not be afraid ..."

I am your shield, / your very great reward. (Gen. 15:1) God has heard. (Gen. 21:17) for I am with you. (Isa. 41:10) for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Josh 1:9) you have found favor with God. (Luke 1:30)

We must confront our fears with the truth, and that truth is the powerful reminder of God's constant presence. Sarah Young wrote of Jesus' instruction in her devotional Jesus Calling: "When you view events from this perspective—through the Light of My universal Presence—fear loses its grip on you."

Our core fear that we can't handle it, that we're not enough, I believe it. I don't think we can handle it, at least not on our own. We're not expected to handle it on our own. Notice that in all the examples in Scripture, God doesn't say, "do not be afraid. You've got this!" He says, "do not be afraid. I've got this." That basic truth has the power to overcome all our fears if we allow it to.

Philippians 4:13 is such a familiar reminder that we almost miss it: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (NKJV). Our ability is in his strength. God's constant presence is the greater truth that confronts our ultimate fear.

When we ignore God's presence in the fear equation, we lead from a place of vulnerability. Every time we make a fear-based decision we lose a bit more influence. It borders on irresponsibility if we're not careful. When we lead from fear, we make reactionary decisions. Those we lead can sense our fear and are influenced by it. Our fear-based decisions erode our influence rather than provide strength for others and instill their confidence in us as a result of our sound leadership.

Lynne Hybels, wife of Willow Creek Community Church's senior pastor, described how fear affects our influence: "Fear magnifies our weaknesses and it hides our potential." Ironically all the weaknesses we're trying to cover up are magnified when we allow fear to overtake us. Worse yet, our potential—our careful exploration of who we are and the work we've been given—gets buried under that fear. Instead of seeing the truth of the confident child of God who knows his or her calling and purpose, others see a fearful, insecure, controlling wannabe leader frantically making reactionary decisions.

Confronting Fear

Remember Brian from the beginning of the chapter? Brian's fear of not being enough was seemingly validated by his being let go from his job. Had he allowed that fear to continue to fuel him, the trajectory of his influence could have taken a turn for worse. But instead, Brian chose to focus on what was true. He was educated. He had great experience.

While he was a casualty of corporate downsizing, his unemployment was not an indicator of his clout. He had God-given influence that needed a new environment in which to thrive. With these truths in mind he reached out to family, friends, and mentors who could affirm him and give him good counsel. He chose to immediately network and look for other opportunities. By replacing his fear with truth, Brian chose a path that allowed his God-given influence to be even further defined. By confronting his fear, he began to redefine how he could best live out his clout.

What is the fear that you're facing? Are you keeping it in the dark? Is it isolating you? How is it paralyzing you? Where is it affecting your influence? What is the truth that you need to apply to your fear to help you overcome it?

I grew up in a small town in the Midwest. I was blessed with family who loved me and a safe, secure community. It was comfortable. But comfort can insulate us from facing our fears. When I chose to move away and pursue a different career path than the paths of my family and friends, my fears ranged from the practical (How am I going to pay for this? Where am I going to live?) to the psychological (Am I cut out for this? What if I fail?). I had convinced myself that if I faced these fears this one time, I would never face them again. I believed that my fears were just one hurdle. After I leaped over it effectively, I would be home free the rest of the race.

Excerpted from CLOUT by JENNI CATRON. Copyright © 2014 Jennifer Catron a/k/a Jenni Catron. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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