The Best Leaders Start With a Broken Heart

Pastor broken heart
Pastor, what breaks your heart? (Lighttstock)

I spent last week at a Catalyst conference in Atlanta, and I have to tell you: Being around so many world changers feels like having a fire lit in your soul—you cannot leave this weekend without wanting to do something great.

There were many incredible teachers and speakers at Catalyst; I'm going to be unpacking the things I've learned for a long time. But on Thursday, I heard Andy Stanley speak about leadership, and that's what I want to share with you today.

Andy framed leadership, and our motivation behind it, in a way I haven't heard before. He said, "brokenhearted leaders effect change."

As leaders, we have been invited into the story of God. The story started long before we were here, and will last long after we're gone. But we have a part to play, and it's a unique part.

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Many of us feel stuck because we don't know what part is ours to play, but Andy suggested we look at what breaks our heart.

The things that break your heart might not necessarily break someone else's heart. You may hurt for homelessness more than anyone you know, and that's no coincidence. Where we hurt and what our hearts break for is uniquely wired into us and usually points directly to the problem we've been put on this Earth to solve.

Andy helped us see that what breaks our hearts isn't just a passion or a hobby, and it certainly isn't a coincidence. It might just be the thing that drives us to change the world.

As a leader, we are called to change things.

Wired into leaders is a frustration with the status quo, a desire to fix things, to make them better.

When leaders lead, things change.

And as leaders, we are called to bring change into the world. We're not called to change the whole world, but to bring change into the area of influence we've been given.

We've all been given an area of influence; we've all been called to make a change in our corner of the world.

Andy said it perfectly: "You have no idea what hangs in the balance of your decision to embrace the burden God has put in your heart. If you opt for purposelessness because of fear, there will come a day that you will wish you could come back to this day and say yes to what scares you."

God has given us the passion and the broken heart we feel for those specific people. He's given it to us because He wants us to do something with it.

But all too often, we are rooted in fear, afraid to act because we don't know how to fix the problems we see.

But Andy said it this way, "What God originates, God orchestrates. If God has originated a broken heart in you, 'how' is not a problem. Leadership is about figuring out how."

Andy encouraged us to ask God to show us the correlation between us and what breaks our hearts. Our heartbreak is not a coincidence.

And then he challenged us that when we know what breaks our hearts, we need to change it.

We don't need to fear, Andy reminded us. God is with us.

With more than a dozen years of local-church ministry, Justin Lathrop has spent the last several years starting businesses and ministries that partner with pastors and churches to advance the Kingdom. He is the founder of (now Vanderbloemen Search), Oaks School of Leadership and, all while staying involved in the local church.

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