As a fan of college basketball I continue to be amazed at how one player can sometimes carry an entire team to victory. These players always have talent and experience, but there's usually talent on the other team as well. The difference maker is the passion these players bring to the game. That passion causes them to be the first one in the gym for practice and the last one to leave. While other equally talented players are out on the town the passionate player is studying game film and reviewing scouting notes on the other other team. When the game is close the player with passion wants the ball on offense and more often than not makes the defensive play on the other end of the court. He simply will not quit until his team has won the game. Such players are a joy to watch because of their passion and desire to be the best.
I thought of these players as I read The Five Pillars of Leadership: How to Bridge the Leadership Gap by Paul Meyer and Randy Slechta. In their chapter
on passion they wrote
These elements of effective leadership represent an overwhelming inner demand for change, a personal rejection of circumstances as they are, and the willingness to make any sacrifice or bear any burden in order to bring about that change.
Every advance in history - in thought, in government, in ethics, religion, or science - has resulted from a single individual's desire to change the status quo, to win a race with time, with custom, tradition, or with self. This is why passion and desire burn like a flame in the heart of every effective leader. (pp. 84-84)
A leader in any endeavor will make a difference in direct proportion to his or her level of passion. Talent is never enough. There are many talented people in the world that never achieve anything of significance. Passion and desire will trump talent every time. They will take a person much further than mere talent. If a person with passion has talent as well, so much the better, but given the choice I would prefer the person with passion over the person who only possesses talent. Passion enables a person to almost will himself or herself over every obstacle that stands between him or her and the goals they seek to achieve.
I look at many of our churches and see a lot of talented people with little to no passion. Perhaps ministry has beat it out of them. After years of working with stubborn and stiff-necked people the only thing they are looking for is retirement. Every molehill becomes a insurmountable mountain in their eyes. They have a laundry list at their disposal as to why every new idea won't work. In the tight games they don't want the ball, and, frankly, no one else really wants them to have the ball either.
Without passion leaders merely goes through the motions. Their team can't win; their church can't win; their business can't grow. However, with passion and desire there are no mountains that can't be conquered. Do you have an overwhelming desire to see change occur in your church? Are you willing to make any sacrifice necessary to see that change become a reality? Do you have the passion and desire that will enable you to overcome every challenge that would prevent that change from occurring? Your talent, skills, and training will only take you so far. It requires passion to take you rest of the way, so how far do you want to go?