When you read the Scriptures, passion for God oozes out. Moses sought God every day. Job followed Him through the most devastating circumstances. Esther relied on Him at the risk of her own life. David chased after God, and his passion bleeds through the Psalms. The prophets craved hearing the voice of the Almighty, and the apostles joyfully followed Him to the grave.
These men and women were great leaders, yet modern influencers often overlook this trait. Too many build up their heads without minding their hearts. They read books on better business practices and attend marketing conferences, but spiritual development is often ignored. According to our research, only 11 percent of Christian leaders say “passion for God” is the leadership trait that best describes them. And yet, my experiences with Christian leaders who are most successful today tell me that spiritual ardor is integral, rather than accessory, to leading well.
As Christians, spiritual passion has to begin with the Scriptures. God has spoken to His people through the Bible, and we must cling to His Word. We know that the Bible is a living, breathing book, not an outdated, stale tome. It provides timely truth about the God we serve and insight for how to live.
Many people today claim to love God but aren’t rooted in God’s Word and in their relationships with Him. If we desire to become passionate people in pursuit of our Maker, we must recover that. You may generate record profits this quarter and have great organizational victories, but if you aren’t spiritually rooted, your life won’t be as fruitful as it could be.
Francis Chan says, “Time with God has to drive you. God’s presence is all that matters. If we are connected to him we will bear much fruit. Everything is dependent on him. God is a real person. There is a real intimacy you can have with him. It’s a real conversation when you pray and there are just times where you get away and say ‘God, it’s just you and me because you strengthen me like no one else can.’ . . . Everything depends on my relationship with God.”
Do you spend time each week, perhaps each day, intentionally tuning yourself to God? Do you nurture a passion to see Him glorified in your family, relationships, and work, regardless of your vocation? I encourage leaders to set aside portions of their week to block out the pressures of life and pray, meditate, and seek God’s face. Even if you are only able to set aside five minutes during the day to walk and pray, or simply read a few scriptures, you need to commit to this. These breaks will give you energy, enthusiasm, and renewed momentum.
Sustained leadership requires practicing the discipline of replenishment. Pastor Bill Hybels says you need a strategy to accomplish this in your life daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. Leaders often get depleted by their work, and we need to recharge and regroup in intentional ways. Nothing will sap your passion for God like burnout.
One way to achieve this is to begin practicing the Sabbath. This means building margin into our lives. Margin is powerful and absolutely crucial for leaders. It allows for rest and rhythm to appropriately get played out in our routine. Margin is the fuel for responding to the unexpected and the option we all need for being more focused, intentional, and life-giving, and less stressed. Margin allows for rest, refocus, and adjustments as well as stirring our God-given passions.
I’ve noticed that as leaders’ margins decrease, so does their spiritual vitality. But margins in business create profits; margins in family create memories; margins in personal finances create opportunities; and in all of life, margins create options to pursue dreams, pray, plan, and reflect. So create moments each week to practice the Sabbath. Building in times of rest will pay dividends.
Leaders are targets, so we all have to be grounded spiritually. Otherwise the pressures of leadership will get to you. We must continually grow in our faith and seek to know God more and more. Leaders must protect their hearts and constantly look for ways to grow and improve their inner lives, as well as their outer lives. The leader’s heart is vital to being a change maker.
Passion for God makes us generous, active, and bold. If you’re struggling to become a better leader, perhaps you should put down that sales book or take a break from those online videos on time management. Instead nurture your spiritual development first. Petition God to light a fire for His glory inside of you. Spend time in prayer and reflection and the Scriptures. Develop your heart for God and trust that He will help you lead well.
Note: The preceding is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of The Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick. Used with permission from Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Brad Lomenick is President and Key Visionary of Catalyst—a movement purposed to equip and inspire young Christian leaders through events, resources, consulting and community. Follow him on Twitter @bradlomenick, or read his personal blog at bradlomenick.com.