Out of compassion comes passion. The biblical concept of passion suggests suffering or even martyrdom. Mission is not done out of triumphalist enterprise, but out of weakness. In the Old and New Testament, leaders always worked out of weakness, yet accomplished an incredible mission. These men and women were willing to give their lives, and many did, for the sake of the gospel. In Baptist churches, the question is often asked, “Where are the resources?” Yet this never seems to be asked in Scripture. Old and New Testament leaders went about their tasks with passion and compassion and trusted God to provide what was necessary to accomplish them. They were willing to sacrifice all they had in order to communicate the gospel.
In 2 Corinthians some of the key concepts are weakness, affliction, and suffering. Suffering and affliction are normal experiences in the apostle’s life, but for those who think only in success categories they remain a stumbling block. The one thing that characterized the ministry of Paul was the cross. He said, “For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you” (2 Corinthians 4:11-12, NRSV). Leaders growing churches must have a sense of passion for the work and be willing to sacrifice to accomplish it.
Out of compassion and passion, flows identification with workers. An effective leader can never stand apart from those with whom they are seeking to communicate the gospel. This is the theme in Philippians 2 when it is stated that though Jesus was “in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-8, NKJV).
Charles Lyons, pastor of Armitage Baptist Church, Chicago, Illinois, grew up in a pastor’s home in a strong middle class community. As a young adult, he felt a strong call and urging of the Holy Spirit to work in the inner city. He became the pastor of Armitage Baptist Church when it had only 25 active members, all of them transplants from the east Tennessee Mountains. He moved into the community with his young family even though it was a community of violent crime, and danger. He said, “I will live among you and help carry your burdens.” That was more than 20 years ago. Charles and the church serve as a model of passion. He came to stay. As a result, the church has made a difference in the community with all kinds of ministries. It is a multicultural, multi-racial, multi-lingual congregation, averaging about 700 in attendance each week. Here is a leader and a church who daily live out the ideas of compassion and passion.
The principles outlined here are also appropriate for those who serve among the highly educated and affluent. The leaders must be able to identify socially, economically, and culturally. The suffering that comes to this kind of a leader will be different than the suffering among poorer, less educated people.
- A Leader Must Have a Profound Sense of God’s Call
- A Leader Must Grow in Their Relationship with God
- A Leader Must Be Compassionate
- A Leader Must Be Passionate
- A Leader Must Be Visionary
- A Leader Must Become Entrepreneurial
- A Leader Must Be Contextual
- A Leader Must Be a Planner
- A Leader Must Be a Lifelong Learner
- A Leader Must Be a Delegator and Empowerer of Others