We call people passionate when they get excited about something. When a parent brags about their kids, people might say, "they are passionate about their children." The moment a CEO starts waxing eloquently about their company's new product and becomes an evangelist for it—we would say, "they are passionate about their company's NEW "dingle-hopper." But passion, in reality, isn't a product of a moment of enthusiasm.
Passion is found in the grind. The not-so-subtle, private struggles create an attachment to a specific item, activity, or action. The struggle doesn't end up on the newspaper's front page or become part of an awards speech. In essence, the long nights working into the early morning on research, months of practice to perfect your delivery, and the sweat from pushing past your limits are never the focus of the end product. They are the ingredients but never the central point.
Yet, no one can ever be called passionate - truly passionate - about anything without a struggle. I would even dare to say real passion is fueled by the rigor of our persistence to keep going.
We like shiny objects.
And this is where churches are duped. As pastors and leaders, we are prone to select the charismatic personality. The eloquent comedian who can summon an emotional response about our relevant hurts and needs. Many are talented and full of charisma, but they are not passionate.
Experience has taught the Church, the recipe for success. Find a great preacher and build everything around them. Add the sweet rhythms of a skinny jean-wearing worship pastor with a penchant for flight jackets and hair gel ... and BOOM!
However, experience is a two-faced educator. The multiple churches and Christian organizations that have made national news for scandal are numerous. I posit that listening to podcasts about these juicy dramas would take an entire month of nonstop listening.
What am I saying? The lack of private passionate grinding in our church leaders' lives has brought us to this moment in Church history. We, the Church, have allowed ourselves to be deceived by the smooth talk and forced alligator tears of talented actors.
Fool's Gold is nice, but...
How do you know the passionate pastors from the charmers?
Where do they spend their time in the grind? Look at what they do and not what they say. Shaping our hearts to lead in a church requires sacrifice, compassion, and experiencing brokenness. This type of passion comes from understanding our limitations and God's charity.
Andy Stanley said, "Your talent and giftedness as a leader have the potential to take you farther than your character can sustain you. That ought to scare you."
Perhaps it's time to look for pastors who are talented but also passionate about the hard work of building character.
How do you know?
Ask these questions of your next candidate to see if they are putting their focus on passionately building character:
- When was the last time you helped someone in need?
- Have you ever given money to the church when you didn't have it?
- What keeps your focus on people over social media likes?
- Have you seen God's image in a person who tried to hurt you?
Yes, these are deep questions and could be challenging to answer.
True passion isn't an emotion. Put simply, it's the ability to fail many times but get back up. It is merely the normal Christian life of building Godly character.
Do you need some help thinking through how to find the right staff member? Or maybe your team needs a little coaching. I'd love to have a conversation with you!