Be sure to read the intro post: How Joe Lost his Passion in Ministry. I will use Joe to illustrate each of the five ways as we unpack the passion-success conundrum: Great passion breeds success but great success buries passion.
The reason, I choose the word "buries" is that passion may still be inside the leader, it just gets covered up, pushed down, so that the leader is not in touch with it.
These five ways are all organically connected. I list them as a way to encourage reflection on how they uniquely manifest themselves in your life as a leader. May God help you guard your heart, keep your passion and stay in love with Jesus.
DILUTION - Success causes dilution of your attention. When you succeed you have more stuff spinning around you; needs to meet, e-mails to reply, Facebook chatter, decisions to make, etc., etc. Joe has so many people seeking his attention, it's harder for him to express redemptive passion walking into Starbucks.
DISTANCE - Success necessitates distance from the front line. With success you put more people around. The team grows. Joe now has a staff person responsible for evangelism. The church can "grow" by virtue of its momentum and reputation in the community. Sadly the distance from the "boots on the ground" ministry that was not there in the early days, can cause personal passion to cool off. As John Piper would say, "Brothers, we are not professionals"
DEPLETION - Success creates the risk of energy depletion. It's easy to be tired when you are successful. The complexity of a growing ministry by itself can add an immeasurable, invisible mental and physical stress. Unintentionally, Joe has been walking a natural path where its harder to stay fresh and energized. And its hard to recognize with the "frog-in-the-kettle" like emergence.
INDULGENCE - Success opens the door to indulgence. It brings money, status and other privileges. Joe had to go to Starbucks in the early days, but now he could can go to the country club instead. The access and rewards are natural and nice. Nothing wrong there. It's just the subtle way that these privileges can tug on the flesh, over time, that causes our passion to loose an invisible tug-o-war with our selfish ways. Passion used to trump convenience for Joe. But no longer. By the way, Craig Groeschel shared something on this that I will never forget.
DISTRACTION - Success brings distraction veiled as opportunity. Sometimes the passion that helped you succeed gets redirected to multiple new opportunities. But opportunities are distractions in disguise. So Joe doesn't just have more complexity at a growing church, he has more speaking gigs, writing opportunities, coaching requests. With the extra money he makes from speaking, he is traveling more. You get the picture. It's harder to stay focused and passionate about a gospel conversation at Starbucks.
So these five ways all contribute to passion loss, diminished energy and the "burying" of that primal force that accelerated Joe's influence when his ministry began.
What would you add to this conversation?