14 Jul '09
Why do some ministry staff have a high and contagious level of passion for what they do and other staffs have low and non contagious levels of passion?
Certainly some of it has to do with how individuals are wired personally. But, much of it has to do with the ministry environment in which they work - for environments will either fuel or kill passion in those who work in them.
Passion killers are those things that will diminish rather than fuel ministry passion.
There is the passion killer of ambiguous missional purpose. Organizations that do not have a compelling reason for existence that everyone understands and shares will diminish rather than fuel passion for ministry. General ministry purpose yields general ministry efforts with general ministry results. Lack of focus and clear definition of what we are all about will not generate much passion. No wonder such a high percentage of churches in our world exist without much excitement or energy around them.
There is the passion killer of control and micromanagement. Good people want to be developed, empowered and released rather than controlled or micromanaged. Control diminishes passion because it devalues people and essentially says "I can't trust you to do your job by yourself." It disempowers and discourages and over time diminishes enthusiasm for one's work. Leaders who control or micromanage by definition kill passion.
There is the passion killer of poor leadership. Leaders set the pace for the missional focus, health, level of energy and commitment and the synergistic working of a team. Where leaders don't provide that kind of directional leadership and cohesion passion begins to diminish. Poor leadership yields poor followership and teams will rarely rise above the passion and commitment and example of their leader. For passion to remain high it must start with the leader of the team.
As noted in my prior blog on risk, there is the passion killer of living with the status quo rather than being willing to take a risk for ministry leverage. Organizations that will not take a risk diminish the passion of those who long to do something different in order to get greater ministry results. When the answer is "no" we don't do that here, passion leads from discouragement!
There is the passion killer of unresolved conflict and lack of team cohesion. Teams, congregations, and organizations often live with high levels of negative stuff that is not resolved. Everyone knows that it is present but no one has the courage to face and resolve it. Over time, that diminishes the passion of good people whose desire to see something happen for Christ is discouraged by the dis health they are surrounded by.
Then there is the passion killer of leaders who are coasting toward the end of their ministry life, who don't really know where to go anymore but who are determined to "hang on" till the end, leaving staff without direction or real purpose. This is a real problem among pastors who have lost their ability to lead but who don't know what to do next and simply hang on. They may be great people but they are no longer leading and their lack of leadership diminishes passion among those they should be leading.
There is also the passion killer of leaders who are more about building their own success and legacy than working as a team. These leaders may have narcissistic tendencies and it is all about them. Their narcissism diminishes passion in others quickly as team member realize that they are simply being used rather than part of a cohesive, unified ministry team. It is about the leader and not about the mission. Some very large organizations, and churches, suffer from this passion killer.
Organizational culture and its leadership will either fuel or diminish passion. I would love to hear from readers on passion killers they have observed in their ministries.