October 22, 2014
While in Atlanta at the Catalyst Conference we were treated to the talented Andy Stanley. It is no surprise to me that he has become such an influential voice in the evangelical world because few can match his communication skills and his ability to hold an audience.
As is the norm at Catalyst, Andy speaks at the opening and closing sessions of the conference and in many ways sets the tone for the entire two days. And as usual, he began with a bang. The essence of his first message directed at leaders was this:
Two questions that may seem harmless enough at first, but in essence grips at the core of why any of us get into ministry in the first place. For most, ministry became this irresistible calling.
This desire to make a difference and to touch others with the Good News of Jesus Christ. But this is what I've experienced over time. What originally broke my heart and propelled me into ministry in the first place gets dulled and redacted over time. The tensions, battles, conflicts, and on-going stress of church ministry can dilute and deaden the passion that once existed.
Of the two questions above, I'm personally comfortable with the first. The second one though, was a good reminder of something I needed to ask again. In light of the question, here are 6 reasons to ask it of yourself. These are true for anyone in any leadership or serving capacity, not just church leaders.
1. If it doesn't break your heart, it won't motivate you
With all the stress that comes as part of ministry life, you better have something pulling you out of bed in the morning more than a paycheque. Motivation is a difficult discipline to maintain over time. You need to get behind something that ignites passion and causes you to want to change the status-quo.
2. If it doesn't break your heart, it won't become sacrificial
When ministry becomes a job the entire dynamics change. You are not in it to serve others but to gain the most for yourself. Ministry is, in part, sacrificing yourself for the sake of others and their needs. Its not always easy to embrace or accept, and yes, you can be abused by others because of this, but regardless, without your heart broken, you will not be open to sacrificial service.
3. If it doesn't break your heart, it won't become incarnational
I love how John in his Gospel describes Jesus as ""dwelling among us."" That the Son of God would wrap flesh, come as a helpless baby, and walk in our footsteps. Jesus would not have done that if his heart did not break for the state of humanity. Can we, as leaders, not see how our walking alongside others helps to convey the heart of God? But if our heart is not compelled to break we will never be compelled to walk in the steps of others.
4. If it doesn't break your heart, it won't inspire others
We've all heard how a man on fire attracts a crowd. I read recently that the number one ingredient people look for in preaching is passion and belief in what is being said. If it doesn't resonate in your heart it will never resonate in another's. Believe it or not, people are looking for role models that they can emulate, especially if it is a life that inspires them to live better. But people can see right through those who fake it, so if it doesn't break your heart you will never be the catalyst of change in someone else.
5. If it doesn't break your heart, it won't inspire a movement
If it truly breaks your heart, you will long to see it perpetuate beyond you. In fact, you will get excited to see others take up the torch and continue the cause. Few things that break our hearts are ever singular or remote. They are those issues of life that become keys to bettering the situations of the many, not the few.
6. If it doesn't break your heart, it won't drive you to dependency on God
The things that often break our hearts can seem large and insurmountable. Sometimes they are global in scope. Nevertheless, we are compelled to make a difference wherever we can. But because the task can seem so daunting and overwhelming, we are continually finding ourselves at the mercy of God.
The task can seem impossible to us, but we serve a God who specializes in the impossible. That's the beauty of a broken heart. It has the ability to force us into action, while at the same time keeping us reliant upon God. So, what breaks your heart? I think its an important question, and one which I hope to ask myself more in the years ahead. I would love to hear your thoughts.
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There are moments in life when any forward movement seems impossible. Especially after a difficult season or a period of trauma and hurt. In those times, it's natural to look for answers and to even question the necessity of the experience.
Church leaders often come face to face with the existential questions people are asking after seasons of difficulty and pain. There is a natural tendency for people to want answers, but often, the answers are elusive at best.