GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins, a golfer since boyhood, says his favorite holes to play are the par 3s. "It only takes one really good shot out of three to make par," Hawkins noted.
But while one good shot out of three can lead to success on a golf course par 3, it doesn't lead to success for influential people, he acknowledged. It takes all three factors—vision, integrity and purpose—to be men and women of influence. That's the thesis behind Hawkins' newest book, "VIP: How to Influence with Vision, Integrity, and Purpose." Hawkins said influential people must possess a clear vision, high integrity and a God-given purpose that drives them every day.
Acronyms, Hawkins noted in the book, are an everyday part of life for English speakers.
"In elementary school, our parents joined the PTA," Hawkins writes. "When we hoped to get into the college of our choice to earn a BA, we paid careful attention to our GPA and studied hard for the SAT. Sportscasters talk about a pitcher's ERA, a hitter's RBI or a kicker's PAT. In the business world, we speak of men and women who are CEOs, COOs or CFOs who are CPAs. In the health arena, men need to check their PSA. We communicate with FAQ, FYI and IMO while sitting at the lunch counter ordering a BLT.
"Perhaps no other single acronym has muscled and maneuvered its way into our mainline English vernacular like VIP (very important person)," Hawkins noted. "Being important seems to be the personal goal of many who climb from rung to rung up the ladder of perceived success. We've seen too often it raise its ugly head in business, in athletics, politics and even ecclesiastical circles."
Given the dangers of seeking to become very important people, Hawkins said he wants to redefine the VIP acronym to reflect "Very Influential People."
Citing 2 Corinthians 10:13, 15 (ESV), where Paul says we should "boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us" and that "our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged," Hawkins said that everyone has a specific area of influence assigned by God. And becoming a Very Influential Person—a true VIP—requires vision, integrity and purpose.
Vision: People of influence know where they are going
"Those who create a winsome and lasting influence on the people around them are men and women of vision," Hawkins said. "People with influence can definitely answer 'where am I headed?'"
Hawkins noted that everybody, from the biggest names in the world to people whose spheres of influence may be much smaller, has someone to influence like no one else can.
Integrity: People of influence know who they are
"People who influence others for good are men and women of impeccable integrity," Hawkins writes.
Integrity's role is important in the four spheres of life: a private world, alone with God; a personal world, shared with family and a few close friends; a professional world, connecting at work, school, church or socially; and a public world, interacting with the world at large.
"Some people think integrity is rooted in the public world, but its presence or absence is only revealed there, for our good and God's glory," Hawkins said. "Some people maintain that integrity is rooted in the professional world, but it is only reinforced there. Some people insist integrity is rooted in those close, interpersonal relationships of our personal world, but it's only reflected there.
"Integrity is rooted in the private world: alone, between a person and God," he said.
Purpose: People of influence know why they are here
Hawkins noted that epitaphs often reveal an individual's earthly purpose posthumously. Hawkins specifically pointed to what Paul said of King David: "When David had served God's purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep" (Acts 13:36, NIV).
"Could any better words be written on our own tombstones than these?" Hawkins asked. "People of influence must be people who are driven and directed by a focused purpose in life."
Like all of Hawkins' books, author proceeds from sales benefit Mission:Dignity, the GuideStone ministry that provides financial assistance to retired Southern Baptist pastors and their widows near the poverty line. The book, released March 8, is available from popular online and brick-and-mortar bookstores.
The book has been identified as a good gift for graduates from all levels of school: Liberty University has ordered thousands of copies to be given to each of its graduates. Some churches and other schools have indicated a desire to purchase the book for their own graduates, and businesses can use it for people in sales and other important roles.
For more information, including how to make deeply discounted bulk orders, visit OSHawkins.com/books/VIP.
Roy Hayhurst is department head of denominational and public relations services for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.