I have the joy of teaching in our Doctor of Ministry Program at Southeastern Seminary. It is an outstanding program of study with majors in Expository Preaching, Leadership, Biblical Counseling, Faith and Culture, and Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth. You can learn more about the program by going here or by phone at 919-761-2216.
Recently, I received a very fine paper from one of my students on “Leadership in the Local Church.” The author is a pastor of a very prominent church in the Southern Baptist Convention who is leading it through a time of transition following a long tenured pastor. The focus of his paper was on how to lead a local congregation through a time of transition without blowing up the place. As many of us know this is easier said than done.
With his permission I will share in several blog entries an edited version of his paper. There is real wisdom in what you will read. For obvious reasons the particular church and the pastor’s identity will not be disclosed.
Pastoral Leadership, Part 4: Passion
The fourth principle that must guide the life of a leader is the principle of passion. George Barna has written, “Leading people is rarely a joyride. God’s leaders endure incredible amounts of heartache, controversy, and animosity. The end product is what makes it worthwhile for the leaders. If you have received that warm, tingling feeling of victory, a sense that all the hardships were worth the outcome, you know what a called leader experiences in the trenches of the spiritual battle” (George Barna, Leaders on Leadership, 27). As a leader in transition, this passion for what God has called you to do will prove extremely important. If we really believe what we claim to believe there must be a passion that is evident in our lives. In Romans 9 Paul makes an impassioned plea for the hearts of his countrymen to be turned to Christ. As he speaks of the sorrow and grief in his heart for his countrymen, he goes so far as to state in verse 3, “For I could wish myself accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh.” This statement by Paul indicates such a burden and such a passion for those that are lost to be saved that one can hardly comprehend it. For the new leader in transition, I am convinced that this same kind of passion must be seen in each area of the new leader’s responsibility. It is vital to be passionate about the staff leadership team with whom you are surrounded. There must be a belief in them, their call, and the gifts that they bring to the team. It is vital to be passionate in the preaching of God’s Word, to truly communicate that the leader really believes what is being proclaimed. It is vital to be passionate about the present and especially the future of the ministry the new leader is leading. In fact, if one fails to believe that his church is one of excellence or he hesitates to invite people, believing their experience will be less than stellar, it could be time to ask “why?,” and perhaps even think of a change in ministry. We must be passionate about what God is doing in our lives and in our churches in a generation that lacks passion about so many other things.
William Plamondon, CEO of Budget Rent A Car Corporation, wrote an essay on energy and leadership, wherein he emphasizes the importance of creating an environment that breeds energy. In that essay he writes of the importance of being passionate about the shared values, beliefs, and commitments. He writes, “This is what enables it to rise above cyclical hardships and gives it its tone, fiber, integrity, and capacity to endure” (The Drucker Foundation, The Leader of the Future, 277.)