Leadership 101 - Turn it up, part 3
More Passion killers.
I recently attended a conference where one speaker was so zealous about her message that she had to fight through the tears to communicate it.
It was by no means the most polished message of the conference, nor the most well-researched or revelatory … but it was the only one that received a standing ovation. Why? One reason. Passion.
It was the speakers’ passion that moved her to tears, and passion that gripped the conference floor as we sat compelled by her every word. It was her passion that spread like a contagion through the audience, and, ultimately, the passion that caused people to stand to their feet and applaud. This is the power of passion.
Perhaps this is why the apostle Paul instructs us, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11).
It is to that end that in the previous issues we identified four passion killers that have the potential to rob us of our spiritual fervour. So before we unpack a few more, let’s recap.
Disconnection: The quickest way to lose your passion is to lose your time with God.
Comparison: Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.
Cynicism: The antithesis of passion, revealed in sarcasm and negativity.
Losing your why: Don’t become so consumed with what you are doing that you forget why you are doing it.
All caught up? Great. Let’s get into the next ones ...
One of my favourite accounts of passionate leadership in Scripture is that of Nehemiah. Whilst living in exile in Babylon, Jerusalem lies in ruin. Hearing of this, Nehemiah’s passion is so greatly stirred he is moved to tears and sets about gathering a team to rebuild the walls.
His opponents try all kinds of tactics to derail the plan, but nothing works. So they resort to a tactic so many of us fall for … distraction. Nehemiah’s opponents call him to a meeting. But Nehemiah’s passion is so great that he will not allow himself to be distracted. He stays intently focused on that which God has called him to do, so simply retorts, “I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down.” (Nehemiah 6:3).
Distraction diminishes our passion because it burdens our lives, and schedules surplus activities the Lord has never assigned to us.
Brennan Manning articulates this perfectly: “Our days become a never-ending succession of appointments, committee meetings, burdens, and responsibilities … weary and breathless, we sense that life is slipping away. We change our wardrobe, slip into the costume for our next performance, and regret that we have tasted so little of the peace and joy that Jesus promised.”
So don’t let distraction - be that Fortnite, Fifa, Netflix, or unnecessary meetings - rob you of pursuing the passions God has placed on your heart. Because, as Erwin McManus says, “There are few things more powerful than a life lived with passionate clarity.”
If you were to go to the gym periodically, you would build a muscle. If you were to go to the gym ceaselessly you would strain that muscle. Being stretched in short periods is a good thing; it causes us to depend on God, increase our capacity, and grow stronger as a result.
Indeed, you have to be stretched to be strengthened. But stay in that over-stretched zone over time and things begin to break down. Without time to rest and replenish we become tired and depleted. Our days get longer and our fuses get shorter.
As our margins decrease so does our spiritual vitality. We lose our joy and our passion erodes. We expend so much of ourselves on our work, without realising that the very thing we must cultivate to do that work - our passion - is diminishing.
People want to follow a leader who is overflowing, not over-stretched. Be careful, then, that the pace at which you are doing God’s work is not destroying God’s work in you.
Whilst it’s true that an over-stretched muscle will strain, it is also true that an under-used muscle will atrophy. The same is true of our passion.
When we are under-challenged we get bored and sleepy, we stop taking risks and find ourselves stuck in the rut of routine as our passion ebbs away.
So we must continually exercise our passion in action. As Brad Lomenick points out, “Your internal passion determines external reach. Your heart will shape the actions of your hands.” To keep our passion hot we must continually exercise it by casting visions that scare us, and work hard to achieve them.
I’ll leave you with the words of Margaret Feinberg, who said, “When we passionately pursue God above all else, the tone and tenacity with which we live our lives changes. Holiness beckons. Divine execution flourishes. Hope returns. Love abounds. In response, we awaken, toss back the covers, climb out of bed, and drink in the fullness of life God intended for us. We live alert to the wonders all around us and within us that expand our desire to know God more.”
Sound good? Thought so. Let’s turn it up ...
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