God’s presence is all that matters. If we are connected to Him we will bear much fruit. Everything is dependent on Him. — Francis Chan, Catalyst Atlanta
Follow Christ Wherever You Are
As I’ve observed promising young Christian influencers across America, I’ve found that they are equally fervent about connecting their work with their spirituality. In fact, 31 percent of respondents to our survey believe that “passion for God” is one of the most essential leadership traits of the next decade.
They know the importance of this trait, and they are bringing it to bear in almost every field imaginable. Whether they work in business or the arts, education or the social sector, media or the church world, they are tying their love for Jesus to the work they do. They want their faith to be central to their lives, not an afterthought. This generation of leaders desires for a passion for Jesus and a heart to serve Him to be fully and holistically connected to everything we do and everything we are.
The great reformer Martin Luther was once asked by a man how he should serve the Lord. “What is your work now?” Luther asked. The man replied, “I am a shoemaker.” Luther said, “Then make a good shoe and sell it at a fair price.”
The man was surprised at the answer. Luther didn’t tell him to save funds for seminary or to become a monk. He didn’t even tell him to make Christian shoes with a “Jesus fish” stitched on the side. Instead, Luther recognized the spiritual value of the man’s everyday job and encouraged him to glorify God by doing that work well.
Being a change maker means realizing that commitment to God and passion for following Jesus cannot be compartmentalized. It cannot be restricted to Sundays and sacred spaces. For the catalyst leader, Mondays through Fridays are holy days. Boardrooms are sacred spaces, and so are Hollywood studio lots, high-rise offices, and neighborhood coffee shops. Accounting can be a spiritual act; practicing medicine can be a spiritual act; working on an assembly line can be a spiritual act; teaching can be a spiritual act.
No matter where you work, your job can be an act of worship and service to God. That’s why we determined early on that Catalyst would not be a conference only for pastors and church leaders. We want artists and politicians and teachers and entrepreneurs and corporate leaders to join our community. They, too, have a divine purpose for their lives.
The apostle Paul knew this essential well. In his letter to the Colossians, he says,
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. – Colossians 3:23
He recognized every day as an opportunity to display one’s passion for Christ in whatever space he finds himself.
Like Paul, the catalyst leader strives to connect passion for God to personal calling.
The way we live out our personal callings says a lot about how we see ourselves. It reveals whether we view ourselves as worshippers or ones who desire to be worshipped. If the latter, your life and work will be me-centered. If the former, it will orient vertically. A catalyst leader understands that the foundation of life and the source of true influence must be a deep love for God and desire to glorify Him.
Consider Lecrae, who continues to gain influence in the hip-hop world and broader music industry. He’s a respected artist who grounds his work in a contagious love for God. So much of his credibility with his peers is due to the passion he has for both his craft and his Creator.
The pinnacle of your Christian experience should be when you take everything that you’ve learned on the pew of your church, and it’s mattered on the pavement of your life’s circumstances. — Priscilla Shirer, author and Bible teacher
Passion is infectious, so I try to fill our team’s ranks with people who display this trait. I want to be around people with passion. You can tell when someone truly loves what they do and their heart and soul is in their work or the project they are leading. When your heart is in it, it’s no longer a job. It becomes something freeing and beautiful.
What are you truly passionate about? What are some things you can do for days without tiring? I love to duck hunt. For me, my soul comes alive being in a duck blind in the middle of Arkansas flooded timber on a winter’s morning watching the sunrise over the horizon. It’s one of the most authentic worship environments for me. But I don’t want to duck hunt all day long, every day. It’s a joy in my life, but not my life’s passion. Equipping leaders, however, is something altogether different. Even though I may tire of my job from time to time, I never grow weary in this passion.
A Lifetime of Leading Well: Eugene Peterson
Though he’s penned more than a dozen books, Eugene Peterson is best known for The Message translation of the Bible. Bothered that a generation was coming of age who were not connecting with the Holy Scriptures, he composed this paraphrase translation in contemporary language. The result is a piece of art and literature that has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.
Eugene Peterson’s passion for God is evident from the moment you meet him. It’s a quiet and subdued passion, yet unmistakable. Now well in his eighties, his voice is soft but raspy. His body is frail yet full of energy. Even in his old age, Eugene Peterson shows signs of Spirit-empowered life. My time with him was brief, but I felt God’s presence each moment. Peterson’s passion for living a life that pleases God seems like the only thing on his to-do list.
Every word he speaks is rich with the history of a life well lived and a God well served. We offered him the Catalyst Lifetime Achievement Award a few years ago and inscribed it with his mantra and title of one of his most popular books: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. If more Christians today lived like him, there’s no telling what the impact of our faith community might be.
Listen to the teachings of Francis Chan, Priscilla Shirer, or Matt Chandler, and you’ll hear passionate pleas to love God more. Or read the writings of Margaret Feinberg, who grips readers with stories of encountering God’s greatness and allowing those experiences to transform our lives.
“When we passionately pursue God above all else, the tone and tenacity with which we live our lives changes. Holiness beckons. Divine expectation flourishes. Hope returns. Love abounds,” Margaret says. “In response, we awaken, toss back the covers, climb out of bed, and drink in the fullness of life God intended for us. We live alert to the wonders all around us and within us that expand our desire to know God more.”
Your vitality is going to not be so determined by how you manage your time or what programs you implement but really your vitality and strength in leadership comes from your knowledge of Jesus Christ and how well you see Him and what you actually believe about Him. — Matt Chandler, author and pastor of The Village Church
Excerpted with permission from The Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick, copyright Thomas Nelson.
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