William Borden influenced thousands of people to step forward for God. That’s what the ideal influencer does — lead others in stepping forward for God. Do you want to be an ideal influencer? As I look at Borden’s life, four essentials to being an ideal influencer stand out.
- Burden – On his trip around the world, Borden was exposed to the desperate need of unreached people groups. His burden to reach them with the Gospel was infectious, spurring many others to do the same. Without a burden, little will ever be accomplished for Christ. The key to developing a burden is to see people in light of Scripture. When Borden saw the plight of the poor Chinese on the shores of the Yangtze River, he saw people in dire physical condition, enslaved by false religion,and awaiting an eternity in hell.
- Action – Borden’s burden to reach people spurred him to action. When he saw the lack of spirituality at Yale University, he started a prayer group and proceeded to personally win his classmates to Christ. During his after-school walks down the city streets of New Haven, CT he crossed paths with the homeless, fatherless, and alcoholics. In spite of his unbelievably demanding schedule, he started the Yale Hope Mission in a rented room. Under his leadership this ministry soon outgrew the rented room so Borden bought a whole building for the ministry. He didn’t just talk about the need, he spent his personal time, energy, and money to meet the need. His testimony is convicting. Do the needs we see spur us to action?
- Perspective – One day in Princeton, NJ, the wealthy William Borden saw an expensive car cruise by. With excitement he said, “Gee! Wouldn’t I like a car like that!” His friend responded to him, “Why do you not get one, William?” Borden unexpectedly answered, “I cannot afford it.” He could have easily bought several of those cars, but his view of his money as God’s possession didn’t allow it. Later at his ordination to be a missionary, the news media criticized him, claiming that he was throwing his life away. Again Borden’s eternal perspective kept him focused on his calling. His life was God’s, not his own. After his death his eternal perspective was on display for the whole world to see. In his will he left nearly his entire fortune to Christian causes. Headlines all across the world lamented Borden’s decision to give his wealth to God. Just like Borden we need to see our possessions, abilities, and life as belonging to God, striving to make each decision one of eternal value. Don’t be concerned when the world doesn’t understand your eternal investment.
- Preparation – In spending nearly his entire life preparing to be a missionary, William Borden influenced the whole world. Today many struggle to see the important correlation between preparation and influence. Upon returning from his world tour, Borden was tempted to go right into missions; but his dad challenged him to first go to Yale University. At Yale, he gained far more than knowledge; his numerous responsibilities refined him into a more capable person. After four years of college at Yale, he chose to continue his preparation at Princeton Theological Seminary. During his time at Yale and Princeton Borden took extracurricular language studies, but this wasn’t enough. He chose to spend several months continuing his studies in Egypt before he arrived on his mission field. Through his life we learn that preparation is a vital part of his ministry.
William Borden’s approach to influence was vastly different from the typical modern-day influencer. Today’s influencers focus on building an audience; then they disguise their complaining as “raising awareness.” They encourage others to take action but fail to offer or implement an effective solution themselves. Fortunately not all take this route. I’m thankful for the many who have influenced my life using the same pattern exemplified by Borden. His burden, action, perspective, and preparation influenced the whole world. Will you choose to be an Ideal Influencer like Borden?