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Influence That Really Matters

Written by Chuck Olson

“Prof.” That’s what his students called him—a moniker of deep respect and deep affection.

Dr. Howard G. Hendricks, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Christian Education and Leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary, is a person who has marked my life profoundly. After all these years, it doesn’t take much to upload his sustained influence in my life and leadership.

As one of my professors, Prof has had formal influence in my life—organizational influence, if you would. During grad school, like so many other students, I lined up to get into his classes—how to study the Bible, leadership, discipleship, marriage and family, and more. If Prof taught it, I took it. End of story.

But far beyond the formal influence of the classroom was Prof’s personal influence in my life—influence that to this day sits deeply in the core of who I am. I can remember many hallway conversations. I can remember long walks at school retreats. I can remember Pattie and I having dinner with Prof and Jeanne. I can remember waking up early for 16 weeks for an intensive, weekly discipleship group. I can remember traveling with Prof to Colorado Springs for a conference and all the conversations tucked into those memorable days. And I can remember the day he came to our home to do the honors of dedicating our firstborn.

This walk down memory lane points out something very significant if you want to make a difference in someone’s life. You see, there is often a sizeable gap between ORGANIZATIONAL influence and PERSONAL influence. It’s more the exception than the rule to have the SAME person bring both organizational AND personal influence into your life (thank you, Prof).

Think with me about the difference, the contrast between organizational and personal influence.

Organizational influence usually says, “I’m in charge.” Personal influence always says, “I’m here to serve.”

Organizational influence is often about command and control. Personal influence is about empowering and releasing.

Organizational influence is often about command and control. Personal influence is about empowering and releasing.

Organizational influence is transactional (“Meet your quota and I’ll give you a commission”). Personal influence is transformational (“I believe in you and by God’s grace, whatever He’s taught me, I want to share with you”).

Organizational influence doesn’t require (and rarely celebrates) character. Personal influence is all about character.

Organizational influence is usually confined to the workspace. Personal influence knows no limits.

Organizational influence offers policies for the complexities of life. Personal influence offers wisdom.

Organizational influence offers policies for the complexities of life. Personal influence offers wisdom.

Organizational influence speaks to the head—to inform. Personal influence speaks to the heart—to inspire.

Organizational influence is about striving to be at least a box above everyone else on the o-chart. Personal influence is about seeking to walk alongside another person.

Organizational influence is about positions and titles and power. Personal influence is about relationships and investment and moral authority.

Organizational influence is about positions and titles and power. Personal influence is about relationships and investment and moral authority.

Organizational influence seeks to hoard information. Personal influence seeks to give it away.

Organizational influence often boxes you in. Personal influence always lifts you up.

Organizational influence often has a short shelf-life. Personal influence lasts a lifetime.

Organizational influence often has a short shelf-life. Personal influence lasts a lifetime.

And finally, organizational influence is granted by corporate headquarters to those who finished the obligatory coursework. Personal influence is granted by God to those who have opted to enroll for a lifetime in His schoolhouse of heart transformation.


Chuck Olson
Founder | Lead With Your Life

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  • pattie says:

    So many of Dr. Hendrick’s quotes have influenced me:
    “The size of your God, determines everything.”
    and
    “You teach what you know, but you reproduce what you are.”
    and
    “It is a sin to bore people with the Bible.”
    and
    “When God measures a man he puts the tape around the heart, not the head.”

  • Mike says:

    Such a great man. He left such a legacy of giving 100% for an entire lifetime.

  • Rob says:

    Thank you Chuck. Very profound. God blessed you with “Prof” in you life. It puts the purpose of life clearly into perspective.

  • Janna Howe says:

    Enjoyed this personal experience story of our our lives are so impacted by the servants that by us! Thank you Chuck and Pattie too. You two walk to serve our Lord. Love you

  • Jeff Goldfarb says:

    Chuck – this is so good and true ! Working in senior leadership of a Fortune 500 company I see this in spades – good and bad. Really effective message.

  • Gilbert Gazanian says:

    Chuck: Wow! Great Insights! Homerun, touchdown, 3-point play!!!

Chuck Olson

As founder and president of Lead With Your Life, Dr. Chuck Olson is passionate about inspiring, resourcing and equipping Kingdom leaders to lead from the inside out.  To lead, not with the external shell of positions, achievements or titles, but from an internal commitment to a deep, abiding and transparent relationship with Jesus. Serving as a pastor and leadership coach for over forty years, Chuck has a track record of building these truths deep into the lives of both ministry and marketplace leaders.

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