Passion is contagious. Passion will have more of an impact than personality. There is something compelling about leaders who love what they do and do what they love. A leader like this has the power to ignite enthusiasm and dedication in scores of others with whom he has contact. Life is too short to be boring or mediocre. I am one who has always respected, admired, and looked up to leaders with contagious and infectious passion.
I lived in Colorado Springs from 1984 to 1988 and had the privilege of knowing Bill Retts. At the time, Bill was in his mid-80s. He had more passion and enthusiasm than any person I ever met. Bill took me under his wing and became my mentor during the time we were in Toastmasters together. He modeled passion and taught me how to speak and live with a passion that came from deep within.
At 80, Bill continued putting together presentations and traveling around the world, speaking, teaching, and mentoring younger men like me. Passion oozed from every pore in his excited, positive, energetic body. He loved the Lord, he loved his work, and he loved people. He was excited and delighted to be alive, and it was obvious to everybody. I thank the Lord for bringing Bill Retts into my life.
I love to be around people of passion. Most people do. I am not talking about a phony enthusiasm and hype that is manufactured to sell things or persuade people to get on board with a novel idea. I'm referring to a genuine joy that flows from a leader in love with Jesus Christ, one who has a compelling purpose that ignites a deep inner passion.
I recall hearing about two pastors who were discussing their theological positions when one said to the other, "Well, it appears to me that we basically believe the same things."
The other responded, "Yes, but the difference is that you have it on ice and we have it on fire."
I have met many leaders during my 40 years of ministry who teach the truth on ice. The facts are there, the doctrines are biblical, but they are served on ice. There is no life, no joy, no burning heart, and no God-fueled passion.
D. L. Moody was once asked how he had become the engaging, passionate communicator that he was. He responded by saying that before he was to speak, he would go out into a field by himself and ask God to set him on fire. Think what would happen if leaders began praying to be set on fire. I have started to pray that for myself.
We need more of this kind of passion. There's too little fire and too much ice that coats much of what goes on today in the name of Christ.
Edward G. E. Bulwer-Lytton said, "Nothing is so contagious as enthusiasm. It is the genius of sincerity, and truth accomplishes no victories without it." And I have heard John Maxwell say that passion will enable you to:
Passion and Personality
Now, I suspect that some of you who are on the quiet side may be tempted to brush aside this encouragement to be passionate. You might categorize passion as the personality trait of charismatic, outgoing, somewhat loony, naturally energetic people. Before you go too far down that road, let me tell you that I am introverted by nature, but I am as passionate as they come.
Passion is a God thing, not a personality thing. The Lord wants all his leaders to be so in love with him, so excited about his purpose for their lives, that a deep, heartfelt passion results. Granted, that will look different for a quiet leader than for an outgoing leader (and so it should!).
The passion displayed by Peter is different from that of his brother, Andrew. Paul had a different personality than Timothy. Timothy may have been on the timid side (2 Tim. 1:7), but was nonetheless encouraged by Paul to be passionate. And so it is throughout the Bible: different Christian leaders have different combinations of gifts and different personalities, but all are passionate because they are deeply connected with God and his purpose for their lives.
Keep in mind that passion is a God thing, something that the Spirit of God creates in our hearts as a result of our deep convictions about who he is and who we are in him. Nevertheless, there are some steps we can take to develop genuine and contagious passion:
—Dave Kraft served with the Navigators for 38 years and is now leadership development pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle.
Adapted from Leaders Who Last, © 2010 by the author and published by Crossway. Used by permission.
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