V6 Discipleship: Personal Influence (Part 1 of 3)
A V6—that is, an engine with six cylinders—will unfailingly provide more power and more drive if all six cylinders are working together. Discipleship is kind of like that. Research has identified six distinct sources of influence that create the drive needed for change or growth. Knowing what those areas are, and getting all six cylinders up and running, will help propel you forward on your journey of faith.
I have a friend who recently dropped some significant weight. He’s even been able to keep the weight off with the kind of consistency that only comes from life change. As I listened to his story and asked some follow up questions, I was reminded of the research done by VitalSmarts and presented in their Influencer training. Their research suggests six distinct areas that enable (or hinder) change.
In order to make any significant or lasting change, like my friend did, you must have A) the desire to do it and B) the ability to do it. That much seems obvious. But VitalSmarts lays out six types of influence that affect either motivation or ability, three for each. I like to think of all these influences together as the cylinders in a V6 engine, an engine that propelled my friend into a healthier lifestyle and has the potential to drive both individual and congregational discipleship growth. Let’s look at all six cylinders, two at a time.The first set of driving factors has to do with your own personal motivation and personal ability. I like to talk about your Personal Motivation cylinder as your secret identity, the values you hold that define who you are and shape the choices you make on a daily basis. If you want to make a change, you will have to find a personal value that aligns with the change you seek.
Ironically, my friend felt almost no personal motivation to lose weight. He was happy and (kind of) healthy and had no personal desire for change in this area of his life. You might think that your own individual motivation is the key to any change, but actually, personal motivation is only one of the six cylinders. Maximizing the number of the cylinders firing together is far more important than any single source of influence by itself. As we shall see, once some of the other pistons started firing, my friend found some personal motivation. But he didn’t start there. And that’s a comfort for people like me, who don’t always feel an overwhelming personal desire for ongoing spiritual growth…
The counterpart to Personal Motivation is the Personal Ability cylinder. (Remember, change takes both motivation and ability.) If personal motivation asks, “Do I want to?” personal ability asks, “Do I have that tool in my bag?” That’s why I think of this source of influence as my utility belt: Batman might want to climb out of the trap he’s in, but without the Batarang, he’d still be stuck in the Joker’s secret lair.
When my friend finally got to the point where he wanted to lose weight, he had to figure out how to do it. There are lots of tools available for counting calories or tracking exercise, and lots of eating plans to affect change: should he go with Atkins, Keto, South Beach, Paleo, Dukan, HCG??? He wasn’t born with that tool in his bag, and he didn’t come by it magically. He knew he needed to lose weight, but he didn’t really want to; and he didn’t really know how to.
Does that sound familiar? Have you ever thought it would be nice if you wanted to read the Bible more, or at least knew how to read more productively? Have you ever wished you felt like going to church more, or knew what to do once you were there?
Take heart! Personal Motivation and Personal Ability are important, but they are only one third of the equation! The other four cylinders help get these two up and running. And once you get all six firing, positive, lasting change is all but inevitable!
We’ll get into how social influence can affect both Motivation and Ability in Part 2 of this V6 Discipleship blog. For now, keep reflecting on what small step Jesus might be inviting you to take next. Can you discern any change in your discipleship motivation or ability? Ask the Holy Spirit what he is up to in your life. (And don’t forget to look and listen for the answer!)