People often refer to me as an influencer and ask me how I became one. They invite to influencer gatherings and put me on influencer conference panels and ask me to contribute to influencer podcasts.

I’ve never been quite comfortable with that term, as it’s always felt rather hollow and meaningless: some manufactured label arbitrarily affixed to people in order to artificially elevate them. I think of people who are known simply for being known.

But lately I’ve come to embrace it, to own it, to celebrate it. Yeah, I am an influencer. You are, too.

Influencers are simply ordinary people who have by their own choosing or by circumstances, or because of their talents, skills, or stories, become public figures others look to for guidance, affirmation, or encouragement.

We’re all influencers. All that changes about us is the scale of our followings.

The only thing that the people you recognize as influential have that may separate them from you is the size of their platform — but rest assured, you do have a platform. You possess a circle of influence, an audience with people for whom you are a household name, a devoted community taking cues from you every single day, a passionate tribe of affinity who see themselves in you and are altered by you.

Look around you today. Consider your audience. Notice your influence. Identify your community.

Your children, spouse, partner, family members, friends, classmates, neighbors, coworkers (and yes, your social media friends and followers) are all being moved by the ripples of your life — some slightly and others substantially. With all of these people, your words carry weight, your voice has resonance, your story is transformative.

Becoming an influencer is actually pretty simple: figure out what you care about and then live and speak and work in such a way that people know. Move through the world intentionally and with specificity, and your community will reveal itself. It may garner you book deals and hundreds of thousands of social media followers — or it may simply alter one person’s story. Either outcome is world-changing.

You are, through the path you are carving in this world in the small and the close decisions you make, curating a very specific community around you and people are paying attention — and because of this profound influence you’ll need to mindful today. What will be the brand you cultivate? What will you be known for? What story do you have to tell? What do you have to say that no one else is capable of saying? Influencer, choose your words and actions carefully today.

They are capable of giving people wings or crushing them beneath their weight. They can declare with clarity the world you dream of and name the injustices you will not abide. They can amplify love or they can boost enmity. They can remind people that they are not alone in the grief they carry. They can become the thing others stand on to become what they could not otherwise become. And they will be the legacy you leave.

There is no separation between the influencers and the mortal humans. Your very humanity is what gives you influence, and you have a responsibility to leverage your gifts and voice and life in order to leave something more beautiful and safe and equitable than when you arrived.

It turns out, no one needs to teach you how to become an influencer, that title actually comes with the gig. You just need to wake up to the reality that you are one, and then to decide what you’ll do with that platform you’ve been given for as long as you have it.

Carefully curate the content of your life in such a way that in the end you can be proud of your body of work. Be a good influencer.

John Pavlovitz

The original version of this Op Ed was published on

John Pavlovitz launched an online ministry to help connect people who want community, encouragement, and to grow spiritually. Individuals who want to support his work can sponsor his mission on Patreon, and help the very real pastoral missionary expand its impact in the world.