Rss

  • twitter

Lead With Passion

PASSION

What ingredient would you consider to be the most crucial for effective leadership? Maybe you would say that character is the most important, and character certainly does matter. What we do does come out of who we are. The number one characteristic important to employees in a recent survey was honesty. People cannot hear what you are saying over what they see you doing. Character counts if you are going to have the ability to influence those you are striving to lead.

Character leads into another important leadership quality – credibility. We live in a time where there is very little trust in leaders. It does not necessarily have anything to do with the individual in leadership as much as it is that they just hold a leadership position. Many have become suspicious of all and it takes patience and time to build credibility. The unfortunate truth is that credibility and trust can be lost in seconds. We live in a day and time where credibility must be earned by the lives we live!

Another important leadership ingredient is capability. Peter Drucker was quoted as saying, “Other than president of the United States, the three most difficult jobs in America today are president of a large university, administrator of a large hospital, and pastor of a large church.” The skill set for a pastor is off the charts with what is being expected and asked of this leader. Paul, when mentioning difficulties he had gone through, also listed the daily pressure on him from the care of the churches.

Perhaps a commitment to learning is the most important characteristic. There is no doubt that a leader must be a lifelong learner. Aubrey Malphurs says that, “a lack of teachability is the potential leader’s cardinal sin.” It is very important to remain flexible and to not think you have all of the answers. There is a trap with our egos when we think we have been doing this long enough and have it figured out. While experience is important, we should always remain teachable.

However, I believe that the most important leadership ingredient is passion! In Being Leaders, Aubrey Malphurs defines Christian leadership as, “the process whereby servants use their credibility and capability to influence people in a particular context to pursue their God-given direction.” Yes, character counts. Credibility and capability are also crucial ingredients as leaders but without passion they will not endure. A key to leadership is remaining close to Christ so that our hearts burn with His fire.

Lyle Schaller wrote, “I think passion is the critical variable. It has taken me a long time to come around to that, but if a pastor does not have a passion for the mission, you can forget the rest. I would insist that the number one quality of a leader is passion.” Aubrey Malphurs agrees, and so do I. If we are not passionate for our church and our city then maybe it is time to step aside? Or at least we must find a way for the passion to be rekindled! Paul told Timothy to “keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you.”

Malphurs defines passion in Being Leaders as, “a God-given capacity to commit oneself fervently over an extended period of time to meeting an objective. Here is a breakdown of this definition:

  • God-given: The only way for passion to burn within us is to spend time with the Lord. Luke 24:32 says, “Weren’t our hearts ablaze within us while He was talking with us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us?” Passion comes from intimate time with Jesus!
  • Commit: Passion is not just the “rah rah” of a pep rally but it carries also a game plan. There is an intentionality and commitment to planning a strategy to do something about what we say we are passionate about. James 4:17, “So it is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it.”
  • Fervently: Who will reach their cities for Christ? Those who are passionately in love with Him. What are you contributing to the fulfillment of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment? If we truly feel strongly about something it then propels us into action.
  • Extended period of time: This is not a short-term commitment, but rather, it means we are in it for the long haul. Malphurs says, “Passion has tenure!” It is what we have dedicated ourselves to until we have met the objective. Casting Crowns sings, “Until the whole world hears!”

The temptation is to think that passion is only for the extroverts and the outgoing.

In Leaders Who Last, Dave Kraft says, “Personality is a God thing not a personality thing!” Passion is equal to conviction and as you read the book of Acts you see that the early church was passionate. They were on fire with a boldness that created fearlessness in their lives. You do not see them obsessed with safety or comfort. They were ready to place their lives on the line for the cause of Christ and they did!

We read about the apostle’s passion when they were threatened and told to quit sharing the gospel in Acts 4:19-20, “But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Paul later says in Acts 20:24, “But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.”

Passion is produced from a genuine joy that flows from being in love with Jesus. Healthy Christians, healthy leaders, and healthy churches are passionate!

How to Not Lose Heart

Heart Problems

“Yep, you can just tell their heart isn’t in it anymore!” Have you ever heard that before? It has been said about athletes, employees, hobbyists, and even spiritual leaders. What happens when a leader loses heart? They lose!

Rom 10:2 says, “I can testify about them that they have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” That verse has been used quite often with a negative connotation towards those perceived as having too much passion. The notion is that once a person understands more about the things of God then their passion will level off.

But where is that in the scripture? Why can we not increase with knowledge and understanding while our passion, zeal, and burden increases also? Our communities will be reached with the Gospel by those who are passionately in love with Jesus and who love the same people He passionately loves and died for.

What happens when you lose your spiritual passion and zeal? It drains you and eventually can cause you to walk away from God’s calling on your life. God’s call does not change but the power to accomplish that calling can and does. While there are many different ministry killers we could list, the biggest ministry killer is a heart problem.

That is why in Proverbs 4:23 we are told to, “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.”

Here is what might happen when you lose heart:

  • First, you may give up and quit! You begin saying things like “What’s the use?” “What difference is it making anyway?”
  • Second, you notice you are just going through the motions faking the passion you once had! The thinking here is, “I can’t let you know my passion is gone!” “I’ll fake it till it comes back!”
  • Third, you begin giving all the reasons (excuses) you calmed down. The reality is that you are not sure if you are trying to convince others or yourself. The argument here is, “Hey, I’m as faithful and committed as anybody!”
  • Fourth, you passionately begin to pursue God’s heart again so that He will return to you that passion and zeal. You invite Him into every area of your life to do a work on your heart again and again and again.

In A Work of Heart Reggie McNeal says, “All the leadership insight and expertise on the planet cannot overcome a case of spiritual heart disease or ‘heart failure’.” He also states, “…the first order of responsibility for spiritual leaders: to reflect the heart of God to the people around them.” Are you reflecting the passionate heart of God?

Here is some reality:

  • Focus on the Family reports that 80% of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years. Many enter with a zeal and passion that wanes as time marches on. The calling was real and the excitement was apparent but the challenges and difficulties creates many casualties along the way.
  • Southern Baptist Convention says that out of every 10 who surrender to preach only 1 will retire in vocational ministry.
  • Focus on the Family reports that 80% of pastors and 84% of their spouses are discouraged or are dealing with depression.

The reality is that it is easy to lose heart and lose the passion and zeal you began the journey with. What about those who stay in the ministry? Charles Stone in 5 Ministry Killers says, “Clearly, frustration in ministry is a big deal. Nagging issues drain precious energy from mission-critical tasks.” How’s your heart? On a scale of 1-10 how would you score your passion and zeal for God?

Paul challenges us in II Cor 4:16, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” There is a way to see our passion and zeal increase!  What are you willing to do to get your passion and zeal back?  Here are some ideas to begin the journey back to when you had the passion and zeal to carry our God’s calling on your life:

  • First – Admit There is a Problem! One thing about King David; whenever he failed God, he fell towards Him! He didn’t run from Him but ran towards Him confessing his failures. (Psa 51)
  • Second – Desire to Know Him More! It is all about relationship and He desires to do a work in your heart even more than you want Him to. It always has and always will be a matter of the heart. (Matt 22:37-39)
  • Third – Be Still and Know that He is God! Make sure that you have found margin in your life to focus on Him and spend time with Him. (Psa 27:4; Psa 63)
  • Fourth – Passionately Pursue Him! It is not about the schedule, the programs, the plans, nor the image you portray. It is all about Him and passionately loving Him. (Psa 42)
  • Fifth – Share your Struggles with a Friend and Be Transparent! God has always provided us companionship. We do not have to walk this journey alone but can lean on one another and help one another. (Ecc 4:9-13)

Reggie McNeal describes it this way, “All are living lives never before attempted. Each individual’s journey requires a discovery of insights as old as eternity and as fresh as the morning. Spiritual leaders aid people in this exploration.”

IS IT A GOOD IDEA OR A GOD IDEA?

Good Idea

 

“Is it a ‘Good’ idea or a ‘God’ idea?”

This challenge from my pastor, Todd West, caused me to consider all the decisions I do make and are they directed by the Lord?  He shared that the USA Today reported that every individual can make up to 35,000 decisions a day.  Wow, that’s a lot but when you consider how many decisions we make as second nature it does add up.  But what about the bigger decisions we are faced with?  We are faced with choices every day where we must discern God’s direction and leading in our lives correctly.

Nehemiah had a big decision as he was challenged to do something about his hometown Jerusalem.  He was passionate about his desire to see the walls rebuilt and the city restored to its former glory.  The book of Nehemiah is often used to teach excellent leadership principles and in this area of discerning between a ‘good’ idea and a “God’ idea it serves us well again.  There is a huge difference between a whim, an impulse, or a desire and knowing 100% that God is behind our thoughts and plans!

Todd then gave us 6 principles of how to discern between a ‘Good’ idea and a ‘God’ idea based on Neh 2:17-18, “But now I said to them, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!”  Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me, and about my conversation with the king.  They replied at once, “Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!” So they began the good work.” (NLT)

Principle #1:  God Ideas Start with a Burden – Nehemiah saw the condition of Jerusalem and he was greatly troubled by it.  The burden grew and he knew he had to do something.  The burden increased and it remained on his heart calling him to action.  He could not escape this “God” idea!  The King noticed his sadness and even wondered why he was depressed.

Principle #2:  God Ideas Contain Present Reality – His hometown was laying in ruins and the situation was very bad.  There are some who always want to be optimistic, no matter what, but Nehemiah admitted that something was wrong and needed to be done.  He took a step towards being a part of the solution realizing He needed God’s help and the help of others.

Principle #3:  God Ideas Can Be Clearly Stated – Nehemiah was able to articulate the vision of what needed to be done next.  “Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!”  If you cannot clearly state the next move God desires you to take then you should wait until you can.  If it is a little fuzzy to you it will be very foggy to those you are leading.

Principle #4:  God Ideas Show Evidence of God’s Approval – Nehemiah said this, “Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me.”  Have you prayed and sought His mind on the matter the same way Nehemiah did?  Has God opened doors you could not have opened on your own and you clearly see him in this idea?  You see His movement and His hand!

Principle #5:  God Ideas are Affirmed by Godly People – When Nehemiah shared the vision with them they said, “Let’s start rebuilding” and they were encouraged to do this good work!  There is wisdom in the multitude of counsel.  If Godly people you trust cannot see it you need to step back, reevaluate, and seek the face of the Lord.  Seek Godly wise counsel!

Principle #6:  God Ideas are Always Met with Opposition – The walls begin to be rebuilt but there were those who were against it from the beginning.  Those people are still with us today!  Nehemiah had to go to work with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other.  While he was building he also had to be prepared for battle.  If you don’t want any opposition then don’t do anything!  Oh, and then they will complain that you aren’t doing anything!

Principle #7:  God Ideas are very Unique to You! – ( I added principle #7!) There are many good things you can be involved in but God has a calling on your life and a purpose for you.  God has uniquely created you and gifted you to fulfill His purposes and bring glory to His name.  Good ideas are plentiful but God’s perfect will for your life is distinctive and requires asking His direction!

Good ideas are plentiful.  Everyone has a lot of what they think are “good” ideas but making sure it is a “God” idea takes seeking His face, being in His presence, and knowing it is what God has for you at this time and place.  When it is a God idea you are passionate about it and it consumes your thoughts and motivates you every single day.  Make sure your “good” ideas are “God” ideas!

I DIDN’T DO ENOUGH

image

At the end of the movie Schindler’s List, the man who was personally responsible for saving 1,100 from the concentration camps is being thanked by those he rescued. They give him a ring that is engraved in Hebrew saying, “He who saves one life saves the world entire!” You would think he would have been very satisfied and maybe even a little proud of what he had accomplished. Instead, he says, “I could have got more out! I could have got more!”

Oskar Schindler begins to weep as he considers how he could have sold his car to the guard and maybe gotten ten more out. He then realizes he could have sold his lapel pin and gotten one more out. He is burdened and brokenhearted with the reality that he could have gotten one more person. While being thanked for the sacrifices he made and the generations he has preserved he is overwhelmed with the thought of how much money he had wasted and says, “I didn’t do enough!”

Three years ago we cast the vision to plant 100 churches in three years! The deadline has come and gone with a grand total of 88 churches planted. This was only possible because of so many working together to accomplish this goal. There are many exciting stories of God doing great things in the lives of many communities but let me say it loud and clear, it’s not enough! We can and should desire to do far more because people are lost, hell is real, and Jesus is coming back some day!

In Church Zero Peyton Jones says this, “Why did God hardwire each piece of fruit for multiplication, yet when we bear fruit, we see it as the endgame? If we were following God’s design for fruit, we’d know that like fruit, churches are packages for spreading seeds—for planting multiple churches. One seed becomes a tree, which becomes another seed factory….That’s what disciples do—they reproduce.”

Jones goes on to say, “Staying focused is a challenge, but if you keep breaking off church-planting seeds, seeking like a piece of fruit to be a seed-bearing package, then you’ll have no problem. Whether it’s the birds, wind, or weather, something will carry those seeds to another destination where they will be needed. Stuff doesn’t grow where it’s not needed, and this world is one needy place.” Here are some observations about our on-going church planting efforts:

First, let’s celebrate the victories! Let’s make sure we stop and praise the Lord for what He has done and for what He is doing. Sometimes we are not the best at celebrating but 88 new churches is something to celebrate. These plants are not only reaching English speaking people groups but also Russian, Spanish, French, Creole, Erdu, Arabic, and the Deaf! Hallelujah!

Second, let’s pray and ask God to send the next great awakening to America! Revival comes when we begin to cry out to Him with a holy desperation. All of the other great awakenings were birthed with people on their knees crying out to God for their nation. Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; it is the greater work!”

Third, let’s remain committed and passionate about our church planting efforts! The temptation is to think we have enough churches and we should focus on strengthening the churches we have. We need more churches (estimated 650,000 more by 2050 just to keep up with population growth) and we need healthy churches to reach their communities with the gospel.

Fourth, let’s encourage one another and help one another! We really are better together and we must be careful to not see this as a competition. It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people! If a gospel preaching church opens next door to us we should rejoice in the truth that more people will probably hear the truth and respond to it in faith.

Fifth, let’s make sure our churches are outwardly focused! There is always one more person out there that you can reach. We can make a difference for Christ! If we are not burdened for lost souls we need to ask God to burden our hearts once again. Every church must get out of their foxholes and once again get out on the offensive. Pew sitting is not a spiritual gift no matter what you may have heard!

Sixth, let’s be willing to give and sacrifice more! Have we done all that we can and is there not more we can do? Should church planters be struggling to meet salaries and budget while so many churches have far more than they will ever need? Is there a planter that has been by your church that would be greatly encouraged by your generosity? Has our prosperity caused us to become complacent?

Last, let’s do more in the next three years! Let’s pray more, witness more, give more, and plant more churches. If we were totally transparent and honest would we not say just like Oskar Schindler, “I didn’t do enough!” C. T. Studd put it this way, “I pray that when I die, all hell will have a party to celebrate the fact that I am no longer in the fight.”

Healthy churches reproduce and we are never more like the church in the book of Acts than when we are directly involved in church planting!