When we imagine an influential person, we might envision a prominent figure: a “mover and shaker,” as we say. We typically think of influence as the ability to guide outcomes, because in our world, influential people get what they want when they want it.

In his new book “The Influential Christian,” the Rev. Michael Andrews skillfully recasts the idea of influence to reflect who we are as Christians. He urges us not to think about persuasion or manipulation. Instead, he invites us to think about the capacity to cultivate deep, personal, loving relationships and the ability to connect hearts — just like Jesus did.

How do we do this? Most clergy already know that acquiring more information is not enough to become the leaders we want to be. Technical skills are not the “secret sauce” to building effective leadership teams in ministry. “Something more profound than these methods and techniques is required to shape people’s hearts,” Andrews writes.

This book offers a compelling take on what is required to be a Christian with influence. Drawing on Andrews’s 30 years of preaching and theological reflection, “The Influential Christian” suggests that when it comes to influence, our superpower is empathy.

Filled with Scripture, psychology, life stories and literary examples that run the gamut from Plato to sci-fi, this book presses the claim that our inner character is formed as we imitate Christ in our relationships with others — and Christians who live this way have a much greater capacity to demonstrate compassion, authenticity and vulnerability.


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Before you go…

One of the things that impressed me about “The Influential Christian” is that Andrews avoids taking an overly pietistic and moralistic approach to faith and character. What he’s given us is not a list of new commandments, but a rich conversation about the quality and characteristics of a Christ-following life and an excellent resource for personal reflection or group discussion.

It’s easy to become cynical these days, but I challenge you to reflect during Advent on how you can connect, heart-to-heart, with others where you live and work. Feel free to reach out to me and the Alban Weekly team at alban@duke.edu. Peace and blessings on you and your ministry!

Prince Rivers

Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity