Saturday, November 15, 2008

Recovering passion

A number of years ago, I became interested in the subject of leadership. I bought every book I could find that taught how to develop leadership skills and I went to several leadership conferences. Also, I spoke with everyone I could find who was interested in leadership principles. Although there’s much that I could say about the institutional church’s concept of leadership, I really want to focus on only one aspect – passion.

One of the characteristics of a good leader as taught by the institution is passion. A good leader needs to be passionate about the particular cause he is promoting. Also, it’s his responsibility to meet regularly with his team in order to stir up their passion for the cause and to re-kindle it when it starts to die down.

As the leader, he is also responsible for imparting the vision to his team. He receives the vision and passes it on to the others. Therefore, it’s important that he describes it clearly so that the team will know and understand the direction in which they are to move. Everyone is expected to move together in order to fulfill the leader’s vision. In these conferences, there was much talk about running with the vision because it’s important that the leader’s vision be fulfilled. As a result, many workers are needed to serve the vision.

After growing in grace, I’ve come to believe that leadership as taught in the institutional church is not effective and has actually hurt the church.

In the institutional church, the only vision that matters is the pastor’s. Church members are expected to work to fulfill their pastor’s vision even if it means allowing theirs to die. As a result, we have thousands of believers sitting in pews who have no passion because their vision has died.

The early church as described in the book of Acts was a passionate church. The Leader was the Holy Spirit and it was he who instilled vision in the people and filled them with passion. As a result, their passion didn’t die so they didn’t need another person to constantly stir them up.

In the institutional system, intercession is strongly promoted so, for most of my life as a believer, I tried to make myself into an intercessor. I went to intercessory prayer meetings and I studied the lives and prayer techniques of well known intercessors. Although I talked about the importance of prayer and even taught it, there was never a burning passion in my heart for prayer. Basically, I was trying to function out of someone else’s passion and, since their passion never became mine, it wasn’t enough to carry me through to the end.

I believe that the religious system destroys passion. As I look at today’s church, I see a church that for the most part lacks passion. Its members depend on weekly sermons to pump them up because they don’t really care about what’s going on.

Darin Hufford in his audio series on prayer states that we depend on prayer lists and prayer chains to tell us what to pray for because we couldn’t care less about what we’re praying for. As Darin puts it, “We’re just flapping our gums.” Instead, he says that we should pray for what we care about.

Wow!! How profound and yet so simple!! If you care, pray.

I believe Darin’s advice is the key to passion. As a free believer, I’m learning that I do care about issues and I don’t need weekly meetings to stir up my passion because the Holy Spirit is in me and he constantly fills me with his passion.

As I’ve re-connected with my heart, I’m discovering passions which are now coming alive after years of dormancy. I’ve found that the Holy Spirit is constantly stirring up those passions and directing my steps towards their fulfillment. The church that Jesus is building is a passionate church and he means for our lives to be filled with adventure as we follow the passions of our hearts.


lionwoman said...

Aida, this is SO great! You have a way of putting into words things that troubled me for years but I couldn't put them into words. Father used situations where our passions were chronically belittled to eventually lead us out of the institution. (IC likes to call this "being bitter." I call it "Father allowing our passions being ignored or belittled to lead us down a more fruitful path.") It all works for good eventually, but how painful at the time. Thank you for writing.

Aida said...

Amy, you're right it is painful and yet so many people continue on and never get free.

As Father is working in me to restore my vision and my passion, life has really become exciting.

In his sermon on confidence, Darin Hufford says that God doesn't have only one way for us to fulfill our purpose. He's got a thousand ways.

I find that exciting! I've let my dreams die because of religion and I'm finding that Father is starting to fulfill them in a way I never would have imagined if I were still in the system. said...

Thanks, Aida, for this post on passion. The institutionalized version of "passion" is contrived as you suggest.
One of my favorite quotes by John Eldredge is:
"The Church kills desire and calls it sanctification."

Aida said...

Jim, I love that quote. It's very appropriate. Is that from Waking the Dead?

I'm just so glad that Father is restoring passion and vision to his people.

Anonymous said...

Great Post Aida!! You're spot on with what you are saying here. It reminds me of the different parts of the "body" that Paul was talking about. I don't think thats what he was talking about in particular but it reminds me of it none the less, in the way of each having a different function which to me relates to visions/passions. With each part (person) having their individual vision/passion that works together with anothers for a common good or truth that gives strenght to the body as a whole, if that makes sense. LOL leave it to me to make a jumble of it, believe it or not though it makes perfect sense in my head :-P
Anyway, what you wrote was as usual very encouraging :-)

Aida said...

Ron, I think you've said it beautifully and added much to what I said. I really relate to Paul's analogy of a body functioning as a unit and even though I hadn't thought about it in that way before, I think passion is an important part of that functioning.

I think part of our function is birth out of our passion. I know in my case, when I care about something I can do the job and it's not even like working. It's when I couldn't care less that it becomes work.

Great thoughts, Ron. Thanks for sharing.

Free Spirit said...

Love this:
"The church that Jesus is building is a passionate church and he means for our lives to be filled with adventure as we follow the passions of our hearts."
Yeah, I think He's pretty darn capable of passion and the spreading of it.
Interestingly, my passion has only grown since leaving the IC. Maybe that says something.

Aida said...

Free spirit, I found that the passions I had while involved in the systems were never allowed to grow. In one institution, the pastor was so secure that he did everything to destroy individual passion even if they supported his. He basically wanted Stepford wives.

I think you hit on an important point. I've experienced the same thing as I've grown freer from an institutional mindset.