Monday, August 20, 2012

The passion of a leader

One of the things I often notice while spending time with pastors is the lack of passion many of them demonstrate for what they do.  I can understand that to a point.  Ministry can often be rough.  Most people enter ministry with expectations of what it will be like.  They have a desire to truly make a difference in people's lives.  Most ministers work long hours and too often are rewarded with little to show for their efforts.  In some churches they are quickly beaten down by the low expectations of those they have been called to serve.  Too many find their seminary classes didn't do much to prepare them for ministry in the real world.  Their recommendations for needed change are frequently voted down.  Many feel isolated in their work.  For some there comes a time when they doubt that anything they are doing is really making a difference in people's lives.  They decide to settle for the role of a chaplain, and in some churches, a hospice chaplain.  The spark is gone from their eyes and their sermons while they look ahead to retirement.

Probably most pastors go through this at different times in their lives.  I did.  The thing that always brought me out of such times was to remember that I had been called to this work by God.  The One who spoke this world into existence and who has sustained it by His hand spoke to me and called me to lead His church.  That's pretty incredible and should be enough to keep us passionate about what we are called to do.  Sometimes the pressures of ministry may cause us to forget this, but the key is to not stay stuck being willing to settle.  We need to remember our calling, and that memory should re-ignite in us a passion for what we do.

Paul Borden, in his book Make or Break Your Church in 365 Days: A Daily Guide to Leading Effective Change, writes

A passion fueled by truly righteous indignation does a number of things in the hearts of pastors.  It causes us to want to make a difference for God, no matter the cost.  It produces a vision that says the status quo is unacceptable and there is a preferable future.  It provides the courage to risk and do what needs to be done, even at the expense of our reputation and paycheck.  It causes us to minister in places where we would typically not like to live and work long hours because without an investment of time we know little good will happen.  Passion comes because we are doing what we do for the cause of Jesus Christ, not our political or social agenda.

Do you have this kind of passion for the ministry you've been given?  Are you leading your church or your ministry with passion, or are you merely going through the motions?  Are people lining up to follow you because they are inspired by the passion you demonstrate?

If you have lost your passion I urge you to do whatever it takes to recapture it.  Take a sabbatical.  Get a mentor, a coach, or a spiritual director to help you identify what has taken away your passion and what you need to do to get it back.  Set aside time for a personal spiritual retreat.  Put it in your calendar right now and make that an appointment with God.  Read biographies of people God used in remarkable ways.  You'll find many of them went through dry times in their own lives and ministries and came through them spiritually stronger and with even greater passion for their work.  You cannot effectively lead without passion, so do whatever it takes to get the passion for ministry back.

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