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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor
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So You Want Passion?
Here It Is!!
Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div, M.S.A.
- What Happened To Passion?
- So you feel you "shot your wad." You've given the ministry all you got. Now,
after further reflection, you are resigned to carry on in "Same ole--same ole"
- What happened to the passion? What happened to the unquenchable fire, the burning drive,
the exuberant energies?
- No, people around you may or may not have noticed. Pastors, of all professions, are
keenly aware of perceptions and facades. You don't want to let out the "big
secret." But your passion "just ain't there no more."
- Where Passion Went
- Greg Morris, editor of Leadership Dynamics Website, listed four reasons why leaders lack
1. Routine. We have allowed something precious to become familiar. We have
adopted a "Been there - Done that" attitude regarding ministry and
2. Acceptance and approval. Passion both draws and repels people. Some are
attracted to the clarity of focus while others are threatened by it. In our
desire to be liked, we have sometimes turned down our "heat" to an
acceptable level. We have replaced passion with a description of passion.
3. Apathy increases with age. We cannot prevent the march of time, but we
can prevent hardening of the spiritual arteries. Apathy is not a matter of
the mind as much as it is an issue of the heart.
4. We have no purpose beyond ourselves. We have lost our vision and have
failed to see the big picture as it relates to God's kingdom.
But There's More!!!
- There are other reasons for lack of passion, too.
- 5. Tenure: After a number of years, even decades, in the same ministry one can become
"bored." If a ministry cannot bring forth new challenges or if the pastor cannot
energize new challenges for a congregation, the tasks will become even more tasking.
- 6. Habituation: Activities which, at inception, were passionately energizing, have
became routinized. They are habits. Having been effectively assimilated into the life and
ministry of the congregation, the things that have given explosive fire have been reduced
to a steady simmer.
- 7. Fear: A passionate ministry is an exciting ministry. But it is also a risky ministry.
To minister with passion is to risk fear and failure.
- 8. Risk: Why burn with passion when everything has gone so well? Why "Rock the
Boat?" and put the result of endless hours of sweat, toil and tears at risk?
- 9. Personal Transformation: There's no doubt about it. The pastoral ministry is a
ministry of transformation. Ironically, the ones most transformed in pastoral ministry are
often not the parishioners but the pastors. One might call it "God's little
joke" on pastors. Though often related to age and maturity, it is often related to
the often painful transitional crises of life.
- 10. Pain-Avoidance: Pastors and others who have been through intense congregational
conflict often develop protective mechanisms to endure.
- 11. Change of Calling: The Holy Spirit gives--and takes--away spiritual gifts as He
chooses. Amid rather surprising circumstances or ever so slowly circumstances the calling
you have passionately enjoyed begins to transform in ways not suited for your giftedness.
Or, on the other hand, through the same circumstances you might be led to a new horizon of
giftedness in another area of giftedness. This area may be new, cutting-edge, and
unprecedented. Or it may be the resurrection of a gift not fully nurtured and utilized
from adolescence and early adulthood...before you were laden with the expectations of
- 12. Severe Short-Term Conflict: When conflict occurs, one of the of the greatest
blessings is that it occurs and resolves in a short-term. Short-term, severe conflict can
require dramatic amounts of emotional, physical and spiritual energy to maintain the
ministry. Energy reserves used to maintain the congregation during conflict may often
already be running low as the conflict may have resulted from the results of enormous
amounts of energy and passion in the stretching out and achieving of the vision. The
result is obvious. You're tired, burned-out, fatigued and feeling a sense of listlessness
- 13. On-going Attenuated Conflict: Nothing frustrates like the constant drip of a
nighttime faucet. It's not flowing bad enough to get up and fix it. Yet it's nagging
enough to keep you from getting a good nights sleep. When attempts to fix the leak fail,
the frustrating result is "drip, drip, drip." Attenuated ongoing conflict in a
congregation wears out the passion. Fixes don't work. Vision casting falls on deaf ears.
No matter how many things and how many times you try, it's like trying to cut down a tree
with the blunt end of an axe.
- 14. Serial Failure: You went to the seminar, bought the tapes, purchased the
materials and trained the leaders. But time and time again the "magic" programs
which were "guaranteed" to work in your church didn't. Since it was your
program, guess who gets blamed?
- Rick Warren once joked about how they develop new ministry programs. Paraphrased they
just keep on trying--sometimes desperately--to make something work. When it does, they put
it in a neat little package and appear as "experts." Rick's candidness is
healthy. When congregational ministry is given to God, it is freeing to give God the
- 15. Critical Spirit: Legalistic congregations are marked by their critical spirit. This
spirit enslaves, drains, shackles and extinguishes every idea, energy, and innovation
suggested. It just wont work, they say. Given their critical, un-supportive spirit of
those claiming this, their words are less of a prophecy than a challenge. What they often
really mean is "It won't work...over my dead body. If it does, it will be your body
that will be approaching room temperature!" Either way, win or lose, the critical
spirit will work on your passion. It will almost undoubtedly try your energies.
- 16. Avoidance of Accountability: Having too much freedom without accountability can
contribute to one's lack of focus. Certainly this is not to advocate and heavy sense of
accountability without joy, freedom and generous affirmation. But a little nudge is not a
bad thing for the church or for us. It keeps us focused on our main objective.
- 17. Leadership Vacuum: No matter what the size church leadership is always an important
issue. Permeating organizational passion comes from multiple leaders in concert with the
same sense of vision, determination and commitment. The more leaders displaying these
characteristics, the more passion overtakes the organization.
- One of the most inexplicable phenomena of ministry is how God allows drastic leadership
changes, usually involving the best leaders. As a further frustration, these drastic
leadership transitions occur just on the brink of major implementation of a cutting edge
initiative. Several other things occur concurrently.
- First, there may not be a deep enough "bench" of leaders to sustain the
- Second, the absence of leaders may result in an absence of at-hand support to defend the
pastor from an extreme vulnerability to antagonists. If change energizes antagonists and
conflict, the greatest energy of conflict will be on the eve of implementation of the new.
- 18. Low-Change Tolerance: "Been there, done that!" some say after the
conflict. "I won't do that again!" Change can create a sense of bitterness. The
price exacted may have been extraordinary high, much higher than expected. However,
"once burned, twice shy" applies in many cases of pastoral leadership. The
roller coaster may have been too much of a ride. From now on, the pastor may resolve, I'm
taking the merry-go-round. That way I can just go safely in circles, year after year, in a
predictable and no-risk way.
- 19. On going attacks: The constant, day to day opposition does get under one's skin. One
can only go so long without going through the cycle of frustration, anger, criticism,
trying to reconcile, mediating, compromising, being taken for granted and used, getting
frustrated and angry again. It wears away...at passion.
- 20. Feeling Alone: Like Elijah, passion is upheld by being in a team of
like-minded individuals. when alone, however, the strength of one may not be enough to
hold oneself up. As Proverbs says, "Two are stronger than one." Personal and
family circumstances, loss of key leaders, rejection by esteemed individuals, etc. can
leave one feeling powerless, lonely and without passion.
- 21. Lack of Receiving Peer Affirmation: When was the last time your denominational
executive, overseer, or area pastors contacted you personally to uplift you. No, I'm not
talking about the "syrupy facade" often used for political purposes. I'm talking
about the genuine stuff--like lunch, breakfast, a drink, a drop-by in the office, or
taking time at a conference to inquire about your ministry and express genuine spiritual
concern. Even an email with a joke, or "hey, did you hear about..." type of
casual chat can be affirming to let you know that they exist for you. This can do wonders
to encourage passion, interest and support.
- 22. Lack of Giving Peer Affirmation: It is more blessed to give than to receive.
It builds others' passion; it can build yours too.
- 23. Selfishness: When you won't give, sacrifice or are withholding from others or your
church, you will lose passion. Be stingy with your time, talents, resources, and ministry
and you'll reap what you sowed.
- Spiritual Character
- Certainly the list of things which take away passion is virtually endless. However, the
real issue in passion is not the externalities of ministry. It is our spiritual character.
- Passion based on and driven by externals is a worldly passion. It is subject to change,
decay, corruption and destruction. A major part of the reason for passion problems is that
we are passionate for the wrong things. In fact, passion for things is a mis-guided,
idolatrous passion. It's a passion which exalts self over others, one's own lordship over
Christ's Lordship, our results and power, not God's will for His Kingdom.
- Christian Passion, therefore, is founded on and is a natural extension of those
things which are the essentials of faith. The are evidenced in the fruits of the Spirit
and constantly energized by a spirituality founded and rooted in grace alone.
- Passion Means Relationship
- Perhaps one of the biggest problems with passion is that it has been removed from its
indigenous relational roots. Leadership literature, secular and Christian, speak of having
a passion for the organization, for the task, for the vision.
- Unfortunately, they often overlook the most important thing about passion: it's
relational component. There is no passion without relationship. One must always be
passionate for something or someone. Passion always has a direct object. The passion is
focused on that person or thing. Passion is energized by that person or thing. The more
specifically and precisely that person or thing is identified, the clearer the passion.
- Passion also implies a connection to the a person or thing. This identification of
relationship is such that passion creates a radically unique un-differentiation of self.
As passion for someone or something intensifies, the greater we lose ourselves and our own
identity. In our most passionate moments, we assume the characteristics of that person. We
become one with it, mutual in all our doings and dependent upon it to the point that if
the object of passion were removed, we would die.
- Without this passionate connection, life itself would lose meaning. Passion always
requires that one give up their life and sell their soul. The passionate one, however, is
characterized by a willingness to do exactly that.
- Your Greatest Ministry Passion
- Your greatest ministry passion should not be your church. It should not be your
evangelism program, your youth outreach, your ministry goals, your ministry to children,
the building program, or the like.
- That is not where your passion belongs. All these, as godly as they are, are things. To
the degree we have an exclusive passion for things--even godly things--we risk falling
into a most unhealthy and destructive undifferentiated relationship with the
"things" and "programs" of ministry.
- As soon as a ministry becomes "Pastor So-And-So's" or another leaders
ministry, a fine line is about to be crossed. It won't be admitted. It won't be confessed.
But it's there. It's the line of idolatry and self-worship. To the degree the church,
program or ministry can't do without you is the degree to which the threat of this perhaps
already realized idolatry has occurred.
- This kind of passion is destructive. Since it's based on the externalities of the law,
it does not give life. It can't give life. It may feel good, it may give you a
rush. It may get you attention, raises, accolades and advancements. But that's only
because they've worked and perhaps because they attract others with the same mis-focused
passion. If these programs and initiatives fail, so have you. More insidiously, the
failures of that which you have been so passionate make you a failure...a passionate
What's Your Passion?
- If passion is...
- The first step to achievement as it helps establish your
- What burns on the inside ultimately determines what is
accomplished on the outside;
- That fire in the belly that separates mere contestants from
- Differentiates those with simply a passing interest from those
that are true activists;
- Not only gets you going but also keeps you motivated;
- Often the deciding factor between average and outstanding;
The difference between mediocre and memorable;
- Is to be the most important hallmark of our ministry;
- Then we must look carefully at the Root of our passion, Jesus Christ.
- How Jesus Developed Passion
- Howard Hendricks said, "If you want others to bleed, you must hemorrhage."
- This is perhaps the most profound non-Biblical statement of passion we can encounter. It
is profound because it points out that the root of our passion is our blood-bought
connected-ness with Jesus Christ. Without His passion--and compassion, there is no
passion, no reason for doing what we are called to do, namely, minister.
- Our ministries are not about what we get passionate about. Instead, they are
about who or what we are passionate for. When passion is properly
focused on the profound and passionate response to the One who felt passionately enough to
die for us, "passion" takes on a whole new meaning rooted in grace,
rooted in God's power, rooted in God's passion for us.
- Christ's Passion For Us
- Passion becomes focused exclusively on just one relationship, our relationship with
Jesus Christ. This relationship is rooted in the awe of God's passionate love for
incompetence, ever-failing, sometimes discouraged, often incompetent, but never-worthy
children of God.
- Reeling in the passionate response of thanksgiving and joy for His blood shed for us, we
respond with a bit of grateful and passionate "hemorrhaging" ourselves as a
necessary part of extending the blood of Christ to others. That is, after all, what a
"living sacrifice" is, isn't it? One who hemorrhages the blood of Christ
received by sharing it with others?
- A Christian Ministry Is Passion-ate
- The ministry can difficult, demeaning, depressing and damaging. But, when the focus of
our passion is Christ alone and His grace for us, it is never discouraging. It is always a
passion of love characterized by the things that love entails--things like sacrifice,
suffering, going the extra mile, enduring, and sticking out whatever happens to our
- After all, doesn't our grace-responding passion for Jesus Christ overwhelm and overcome
all other passions? If it doesn't, maybe we ought to passionately re-examine our passions
and equally passionately redirect our passion to God alone?
- Get The Right Passion!
- One of the most passionate men of Scriptures was Saint Paul. Looking at his ministry,
one might seek to have the same passion as Paul did so that God could be glorified in our
ministries as He was in St. Paul's ministry.
What was Paul's secret? He had but one
passion. Not five, not four, not three, not two. Just one. Equally important was that his
one passion was not tied to buildings, programs, churches, specific ministries or any
thing else. Certainly these sprang up marvelously as God blessed the fruit of Paul's
Grace-based passion. But there were not His passion.
- "And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of
wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined [i.e.
"passionate"] not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him
crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my
speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in
demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom
of men, but in the power of God." (1 Corinthians 2:1-5 KJV)
Paul was determined, focused, resolved and firm in his conviction and judgment as to
the object of his passion. It was Christ. His words to the Corinthians indicated he could
care less about anything except that worthy of his passion. Anything less than his
determination to preach Christ was simply not worth being passionate about.
That passion was healthy passion. It was rooted in his awesome gratitude for God. It
was rooted in his recognition of unworthiness as a sinner. It was rooted in a profound
sense that he was who he was only because of Jesus' passion for him. Given the amazing
singularity of Christ's passion for him, he determined that the giving of his life would
be similarly singular. He would preach Christ.
Paul knew that if his passion was rooted in his speech, in his preaching, in his wisdom
or in his strength, it would fail. Like so many of us, he had to find out the hard way.
It's not until your passion is destroyed and shown to be rubbish (Phil. 3) that you
finally get the only passion you need: The passion to declare to others what God has given
you: His forgiveness.
- What's Your Passion?
- What's your passion? Do you need to re-orient some of your passions? Are your passions
tearing you away from being healthily connected to the greatest Passion in our lives?
- Beware! Just because it has the name "church" or "Christian" or
"ministry" attached to it doesn't mean your passion is Christ-centered. Our
unhealthy, sinful and law-rooted passions are identified by their transitory character,
their dependence on us, and the "rush" or frustration we receive from them. If
people can shake it, it's external. If circumstances can affect it, it's human. If it
fades, it can't be of God.
- The only passion left is our determination to preach the Gospel. Nothing else. Just
preach the Gospel through and by any means possible, recognizing that these external means
are subject to success and failure, rise and decline, freshness and stagnation.
- Do you want passion? Do you need passion? Looking for where to get passion?
- Go to the cross! See the passion-ate love of Christ for you! Experience the joyful
life-sustaining renewal of Christ's love for you. Let the Holy Spirit work in you the
joyful experience of His grace permeate and titillate every bone, sinew, muscle and tissue
in your body, soul and mind. Now that's passion! Oh what a feeling! Oh, what a message! Oh
what a calling!...to have Your passion be a singular, life-changing, ministry-directing
passion for Christ alone!
- Thomas F. Fischer
Index Articles 1-49
Articles 50-99 Articles
100-149 Articles 150-199
200-249 Articles 250-299
Articles 300-349 Articles
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was revised on:
Tuesday, October 05, 2004 11:03:41 PM