“God loves with a great love the man whose heart is bursting with a passion for the impossible.” William Booth
A few months ago, I attended a weekend gathering of young public leaders. To be honest, I didn’t really know what a public leader was, but I had been couchsurfing and unemployed for a couple of months, so the appeal of a weekend with a real bed and free food proved irresistible.
As this sort of chicanery is nothing particularly unusual for me, I found myself filling in the signup form with glee before even glancing at the programme. And it was upon this glance, my gaze falling upon a session rather unenticingly called ‘Counting the Cost’ that I gained the first inkling that this weekend may not be quite the free ride I was hoping for. My second thought was that, out of all the job descriptions one could apply to public leaders, ‘unemployed’ was probably one of the least likely of their titles, which begged the question of why I was going in the first place. I promptly put the thought out of my mind, and went to sleep, dreaming of soft sheets and Yorkshire puddings.
Yet despite this ignorant and frankly, rather bare-faced pragmatism, it seems that God had bigger plans for me that weekend than simply looking after my creature comforts. It didn’t take long for me to realise that, despite my seeming lack of qualifications, and my feelings about my ‘right’ to be there, there was a very real purpose for me in attending the weekend. I was at the cusp of so many changes at this point in my life, and I knew that deep down, I wanted God to be at the centre of them all. What I didn’t anticipate was how much I needed the very seminar I was least looking forward to.
One of the key verses from the dreaded ‘Counting the Cost’ session was Luke 12:49 when Jesus says “I have come to bring fire to the earth.” The question was asked, “What’s your fire?” I promptly burst into tears right there in my seat, because I knew that that message was for me; I needed the fire. That’s what this world needs. That’s what the Kingdom needs.
But how do we get that fire? Where does that courage come from? One line from my notes from that session reads simply: “Passion fuels courage.”
Some points from the session, about cultivating passion, include:
- Talk to God about your fire. Let the peace of God rule your heart.
- Realise that this fire, this purpose, will take time to form. Let it percolate.
We’re at a unique place in history right now. The culture around us is so full of apathy, so lacking in authentic passion, that anyone who has the courage and determination to show their hand – to let others see their fire – is going to stand out. They are going to attract both real respect and – because it’s impossible to attract one without the other – real derision. Both of those can be very uncomfortable things to deal with.
C.S. Lewis once said: “A Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.” We must count the cost. This kind of dedication, this missional purpose, requires a passion for the Kingdom of God and a willingness to destroy the “theology of niceness” that we have built up in the church today.
My notes from the session ended with three words: “Mischief. Disruption. Trouble-making.”
The cost of following Jesus probably means that your life is going to look a little unusual to others; it’s going to be counter-cultural. It’s going to be passionate in a culture of apathy; it’s going to be sacrificial in a culture of selfishness; it’s going to look dangerous, untameable and downright uncomfortable in a world obsessed with creature comforts, stability and safety.
It’s going to look like trouble. So let it. Go and make trouble. Go and cause some mischief. Because you never know what God can do with a good trouble-maker.
PUBLIC LEADERSHIP TAKEOVER! All this week we’re featuring articles about public leadership, which is leadership in politics, media, business, education or the arts, any area outside the Church where leadership is needed and where Christians can step up and be a voice for good.
There are two weekends in 2016 to connect, encourage and equip public leaders aged 18-35: 18-20 March in Staffordshire and 15-17 April in Northern Ireland. To find out more and how to apply head to www.thepublicleader.com/gathering