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Tim Alford

Leadership 101 - Turn it up, part 4

Even More Passion killers.

“What happened to the radical Christianity that turned the world upside down? What happened to the category smashing, life-threatening, anti-institutional gospel that spread through the first century like wild-fire? And was considered by those in power - ‘dangerous’? 

What happened to the kind of Christians whose hearts were on fire, who had no fear, who spoke the truth no matter what the consequence; who made the world uncomfortable; who were willing to follow, Jesus, wherever he went?

What happened to the kind of Christians who were filled with passion and gratitude and who, every day, were unable to get over the grace of God?”

These are the words of the Episcopal Priest, Robert Cappon. And I don’t know about you, but I want to be that kind of Christian. I don’t want my faith to be tame, tepid, and mundane, but wild, fierce, and passionate. I want to be the kind of leader who keeps his passion-levels filled up to overflowing, that others may catch something of Jesus from me.

Which is easy to write, but harder to live out. Why? Because I am confronted daily with potential passion killers that, if I am inactive in combating, could cause passion to diminish and retreat in my life.

In previous articles, we identified the following seven passion killers …

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.
Distraction: Unnecessary distractions diminish our passion by disrupting our focus.
Over-stretched: People want to follow a leader who is overflowing, not over-stretched.
Under-challenged: When passion is eroded by routine and replaced with apathy.

Now that we’re all caught up, let’s jump into the final two passion killers …

Cold companions.

A couple of months ago a ran in a half marathon. I had an idea from my training runs of the kind of time I might get, so you can imagine my surprise when my eventual finish time was far quicker than I had anticipated. Why did that happen? Because most of the people in the race were going faster than me, and I was trying to keep up.

One of the main reasons we lose our passion is that we are not running with passionate people. Conversely, those who surround themselves with passionate people tend to turn up the dial on their own spiritual intensity.

I love how Mark Batterson reflects this principle: “I need people around me who make me feel small because their dreams are so big. I need to be around people who make me feel far from God because they’re so close to Jesus. I need to be around people who make me feel as if I’m doing next to nothing because they’re making such a big difference.”

The truth is, we ultimately reflect those with whom we surround ourselves, so get yourself a band of brothers and sisters who are running faster and burning hotter than you, and watch as your temperature gauge goes into the red.

As the founder of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, says, “When you’re surrounded by people who share a collective passion for a common purpose, anything is possible.”

Underestimating significance.

I was recently watching the movie 'Fighting with my Family'. I was enjoying it, but, my attention was particularly peaked when I heard one of the characters say, “Just because millions of people aren’t cheering when you do it, doesn’t mean it’s not important.”

They weren’t talking about youth and children’s ministry (they were actually talking about wrestling), but they really could have been.

It will not have escaped your attention that youth and children’s ministry is sometimes overlooked and undervalued in the church. Too often it is seen as a stepping stone into adult ministry, or a training ground in which people can learn until they “step up” into the “real thing,” (which, to be clear, is complete and utter “B.S.” as the kids say).

The danger is that you believe this narrative and internalise it. You become convinced that your ministry is of secondary importance, and you lose your passion as you look to do something more notable. If that’s you today, I’m afraid you have been deceived.

During your lifetime you may well do something other than youth or children’s ministry. You could do something that is more public or impressive. You could do something that is held in higher esteem by the church. You could surely do something that pays you more or has a better career path. But please hear me now … you will never do something more important.

I simply cannot conceive of anything more necessary that you could give your life to than passing on of the gospel to the next generation. So keep going. Do not lose your passion, because what you are doing is of absolutely paramount importance.

So leader, may I encourage you, never apologise for your passion. Don’t bottle it up, don’t water it down, turn it up. Paint vivid pictures of the future you envision for your young people.

Let the love of Jesus in you flow out unfiltered. Let your passion for the lost spill over so that the people around you can’t help but catch it. Let the fire in your belly translate into the sound of your voice as you communicate. And never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.

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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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