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Tim Alford

Leadership 101 - Turn it up, part 1

Identifying your passion.

If you were feeling unwell today you would likely find a thermometer and take your temperature. A high temperature would be a sign of ill-health.

According to the apostle Paul, however, the same cannot be said of our spirituality. On the contrary, the hotter the better.

“Never be lacking in zeal,” writes Paul, “but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11). The Greek word translated here as ‘spiritual fervour,’ is ‘Zeó,’ meaning ‘to bubble over because hot enough to boil.’

Another word we might use to describe this kind of spiritual fervour is ‘passion.’ Passion is the fuel that leaders run on. It is the contagious fire that ignites the hearts of our teams and young people. It is the thing that drives you to get up in the morning and to give your best each day.

Because when you’re passionate about something, no one has to make you do it, you choose to do it.

The pages of Scripture are littered with leaders who ooze passion. It was a passion that motivated Esther to risk her life for her people. It was a passion that moved Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. It was a passion that caused David to confront Goliath, and that same passion bled out of his heart through the Psalms.

It was a passion that motivated Paul to take the gospel to the Gentiles, in spite of tremendous opposition. And it was a passion that enabled Jesus to set his unwavering course for the cross.

These leaders demonstrated that passion will keep you going in the face of frustration and opposition. It is a passion that empowers us to do the thing we were created to do. As Jim Collins says, “Nothing great can happen without first beginning with passion.”

And passion precedes influence. Think about it: How many times have you watched a TV show, read a book, or visited a restaurant, because someone shared passionately about their experience of it?

When you’re around someone who’s passionate about something, it’s almost impossible not to catch it from them, because passion is contagious.

Now, I know what you’re thinking … when we start talking about passion and leadership it immediately brings to mind images of a fiery communicator with sweat on the brow, and spittle on their lips. But this is not necessarily a reflection of the kind of zeal to which the apostle Paul is referring in Romans 12, because passion and noise are not the same things.

Brad Lomenick writes this of Eugene Peterson: “Peterson’s passion is evident from the moment you meet him. It’s a quiet and subdued passion, yet unmistakable.” Evidently, passion is more about purpose than volume.

The New Living Translation has Romans 12:11 like this: “Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.” Understood this way, passion is not primarily evidenced through the raising of our voice, but the relentless pursuit of a God-given dream through faithful, diligent and consistent service to God.

Identifying your passion.

I once heard Christine Caine say, “without passion, we cannot do anything.” If that’s true, then discovering our deepest passions becomes of paramount importance. So how do we go about identifying our passions?

Passion is usually revealed in our biggest dreams and deepest frustrations. Jim Collins argues that “you can’t manufacture passion or ‘motivate’ people to feel passionate. You can only discover what ignites your passion and the passions of those around you.”

The following questions are designed to do exactly that. Properly considered, these questions have the power to dig beneath the surface of your life and reveal your most heartfelt passions. But be warned, they cannot be seriously answered with a skim-read. So put on a brew, grab your notepad, turn off your phone, and invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you as you reflect slowly on the following.

1. What has been a consistent theme throughout the changing circumstances of your life?
2. What skills come to you naturally?
3. What would you do for nothing? If you didn't have to worry about money, what would you be doing?
4. What's something that, when immersed in it, you lose track of time?
5. What gets your blood boiling? What is a problem in the world that you'd love to fix?
6. What activities and results bring you the most joy?
7. What are the things that get you up in the morning and keep you awake at night?
8. What are the things that, when you do them, you get a sense of, ‘I was born for this?’

If God made us on purpose, for a purpose, then chances are the things he made us passionate about are the things he is calling us to do something about. So find your passion; pursue your passion; and lead with passion.

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Director of LIMITLESS

Tim Alford lives in Malvern with is wife Jen, son Tobijah and daughter Aria.

He is the National Director of LIMITLESS, the youth movement of Elim Pentecostal Churches in the UK and Ireland. He is a passionate communicator of the gospel, having spoken at churches, conferences, schools and events all over the world. Tim is the former frontman of [dweeb], a frustrated supporter of Arsenal, and has on more than one occasion been to the cinema in Star Wars fancy dress.


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