Power and Influence

I had a remarkable experience at church this morning. The preacher mentioned Lyn Edwards and the Shackles Off projects at Seascale Methodist Church. I know that project – and I’ve met Lyn. We worked together on a joint church youth event at what is now Whitehaven Academy. I had put together a drama based on the Columbine Shooting. We shared our stories about how we had ended up in Cumbria. I was struck by how God had brought so many people – including me – to the area in such miraculous ways.

I remember reflecting on Lyn’s story at the time – and the difference between “power” and “influence”. Every denomination has its hierarchy. On that basis, the most powerful clergyperson in West Cumbria was probably the Archdeacon. But “influence” was something different. People of influence make an impact on the lives of others and the world around them. You do not need to have status or power to have influence. Lyn was a person of influence – and her impact would be felt on the lives of others for decades – perhaps generations – to come.

The preacher told the story of the time Archbishop Sentamu visited West Cumbria. I remember that visit well. It was a significant occasion in the life of the local Church. The preacher explain how the local clergy had got together in preparation for the visit to work out the arrangements and to decide on who would have the honour of formally welcoming him. But when the Archbishop arrived, he walked straight past all the clergy and made a beeline for Lyn and her young people. So impressed was he by the project that he mentioned it in his book. The Archbishop clearly understood the difference between “power” and “influence”.