The passionate leader

I believe that first and foremost today’s pastors need to be leaders – and passionate leaders at that. Let me quote from the introduction to The Passionate Leader: The Four Foundations of Leadership which I have just co-authored with my friend Terry Calkin:

Jesus said: “I will build my church” (Matthew 16.18). How does Jesus build his church? He builds his church upon men and women who confess Jesus to be “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16.16). Jesus began to build his church when Peter stood up on the Day of Pentecost and proclaimed Jesus as “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2.36). He has continued ever since to build his church on those who confess his name. In this task of building the church of Jesus, leadership is vital. Leadership is needed to encourage the church to engage in adventurous mission. Without leadership churches lose direction and ultimately die.

A good example of secular leadership is provided by Field Marshal Viscount Bernard Montgomery. Perhaps the most critical battle in the Second World War was the one that took place at El Alamein in North Africa in 1942. The British Army had been pushed back to the borders of Egypt and was facing imminent defeat. The leadership of the British Army was changed and Montgomery took command. His first job was to change the psyche of every soldier in his command. He inculcated them with a vision of victory. It is said that never before in the history of warfare have soldiers been so aware of their purpose, objective and vision as Montgomery’s troops. The result was the first victory that Britain had had in three years of warfare, and it marked the turning point in the course of the Second World War. The success was due entirely to Montgomery.

Montgomery was a true leader. He defined leadership as “the capacity to rally men and women to a common purpose, and the character which inspires confidence”. A leader, he said, “must exercise an effective influence, and the degree to which he can do this will depend on the personality of the man – the incandescence of which he is capable, the flame which burns within him, the magnetism which will draw the hearts of men toward him”. These qualities for leadership are also needed in the church.

At a time when the church in the West is facing massive decline, leadership is all the more important. In the words of one American church consultant: “There are three requirements for a good programme within the church. The first is leadership, the second is leadership, and the third is leadership. A lack of leadership may be part of the reason that in a typical year, an average of at least eight Protestant congregations disappear every day… Churches need more leaders, not more members”. This is true not just of churches in North America, but of churches in many other parts of the world too.

If today’s churches are to face up to the challenges offered by contemporary culture, then it desperately needs leaders who will think through those challenges and who will offer strategies for enabling their churches to fulfil Christ’s mission today. If such strategies are to be effective, then churches will need leaders who will help enable churches to make the necessary changes to their life in order to adopt the necessary strategies.

Today’s pastors need to be leaders. For where the right leaders are not only present, but also exercising their power to lead, there the church will grow and new members will be found. What is more, these new members will not just be Christians ‘recycled’ from other churches, but converts whose lives have truly been turned around by the Gospel of Christ. But this will only happen as leaders exercise their ‘powers’ of leadership.

But what is the essence of Christian leadership? In The Passionate Leader we argue that leadership involves the four key ‘foundations’ of vision, passion, character, and gifting. A good number of years ago Terry Calkin came up with this particular model of leadership, but although he has taught it at leadership seminars all over the world, he had never set out his approach within a conventionally published book. So I decided to write up and develop some of Terry’s key insights – for although many books on leadership- talk about the importance of vision, passion, character and gifting, none of them bring together these four aspects of leadership in the way in which Terry does. Nor does any other author have quite the same emphasis on ‘passion’. Thanks to Rick Warren of Saddleback Community Church, California, we have become familiar with the concept of the ‘purpose-driven’ church; however I would suggest that we now need to talk much more about the ‘passion-driven’ church. The reality is that although knowing your purpose in ministry is vital, that purpose will only be fulfilled if passion is present. Purpose may tell us where we are going, but passion gives us the energy and determination to get.

The Passionate Leader: The Four Foundations of Leadership has just been published by the Joshua Foundation in Arusha, Tanzania. Only 34 pages in length, in the first instance it is intended be a simple practical guide for leaders in the developing countries of Africa and Asia. However, I believe that many pastors in the developed world could also greatly benefit from reading it. Unfortunately this beautifully printed book cannot easily be obtained in the UK. However, with Terry’s permission it is available on my web-site as a PDF: so if you want to read the booklet for yourself go to

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