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Having a message is not enough. While it is the foundation of effective leadership, a leader is more than his message. Even if one has a most compelling message, it is no guarantee that people will be inspired to follow him. We only need to remember pastors we know who have the best message in the world (the gospel), yet who flounder in leading his congregation.


Here then, is the second pillar of effective leadership— passion. An effective leader must sincerely believe his/her message, and this must be seen in his/her passionate embrace of the message. In rhetoric such as in preaching, this passion is denoted by the Greek word pathos.

According to Pastor Brayan Chapell, pathos is ”the emotive features of a message, including the passion, fervor, and feeling that a speaker conveys and the listeners experience”[1].


Passion is hard to define, but you know it when you see it. Some may think of it as excitement to the cause, and indeed it is. However, it is not just outward excitement. Many people are always excited, but their enthusiasm quickly fades away. In contrast, there are quiet leaders but who are passionate about their logos. Passion cannot be equated to personality, as if some people are naturally passionate. Some introverted people are just as passionate even if the outward manifestation is muted compared to extroverts.


To be a passionate leader is to be wholly committed to the message so that the whole person radiates such devotion. Passion can be seen in the way a leader speaks and moves. Passion is visible in the way a leader lives his daily life. Others may observe it as love for the cause. We see this in various arenas of life, such as in sports, academia, the military, or politics. In religion, Christian leaders should be the most passionate of all people because of the logos they proclaim.


Again, passion is not a short-term excitement about something. It is a long term commitment to one’s message and vision. To a Christian leader, the genesis of such passion is love, love to the Lord, and love to people. This reality is probably the reason why we associate passion with those who are in love. Again and again, we see in the Scriptures passionate people because they love the Lord. Paul was as passionate as they come. Why? For him, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). Of course, to the genuine Christian, loving the Lord is a given. Paul warned,   “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed.” (1 Corinthians 16:22a)


Repeatedly, we see how passion consumed God’s appointed leaders in the Bible. Faced with a giant of a warrior, David’s words to Goliath before he fell him down with a slingshot dripped with passion: “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (1 Samuel 17:45). In the New Testament, no person is as passionate as Paul in spreading the gospel to the Gentile world. Why? Here is his testimony: “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

In his excellent book, “Leaders Who Last”, David Kraft wrote this: “Passion is contagious. Passion will have more of an impact than personality. There is something compelling about leaders who love what they do and do what they love. A leader like this has the power to ignite enthusiasm and dedication in scores of others with whom he has contact. Life is too short to be boring or mediocre. I am one who has always respected, admired, and looked up to leaders with contagious and infectious passion.”[2]


The moment a leader loses his passion is the beginning of his decline as a leader. It may not happen overnight, but it will manifest itself in little things at first. Later, such lack of interest will become evident to his people, and they too will gradually loosen their grip on the organization. The leader will coast along, perhaps with no better option in life, especially if he is in his senior years. Others will suffer burnt out and will quit the race, a defeated person.


In the following chapters, I will present what makes a passionate leader.



[1] Chapell, p42.


[2] Kraft, p48

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