Leadership in God's Image: Purpose and Passion


How was the Apostle Paul able to accomplish so much in such a brief period of time?

Read Philippians 3:7-9

Paul accomplished an astounding amount in two decades of ministry. What made him tick? What drove him to carry out the work that he did? Today’s passage explodes with Paul’s passion for his calling.

Effective leaders like Paul are those who have figured out what they stand for. They have identified their purpose and pursue it with a passion. Before his dramatic conversion (Acts 9), Paul followed a different purpose in life. As a member of the Pharisees, Paul had attained the highest levels of stature. In this instance he could have boasted about his religious training, heritage and practice. He had been in every sense a textbook Hebrew, and his credentials would have impressed the most devoted Jew. Yet Paul considered all he had attained through religious effort to be garbage when compared with the value of knowing Christ.

Paul was more than happy to throw away all he had attained in order to know Christ. Paul preached that in Christ he and all believers possess all the righteousness of God. And because of the infinite worth of  knowing Christ, Paul devoted his life to knowing the Savior. That was his purpose and his passion. And that purpose shaped all he did and influenced all he led. What’s your purpose, your passion, the one thing that you stand for above all else? Take a look at Paul’s statements again and see how your purpose in life stacks up against his.

Purpose/Passion and Who God Is

What was God’s purpose in creating the universe? Does Scripture reveal God’s intention when He created humans who bear His image? If so, how can we discover God’s deep passion and participate in it? See Ephesians 3:2-11 to gain a perspective on the purpose and passion of the God of creation.

Read Ephesians 3:2-11

What was God’s purpose when He created the universe? The short answer is, we don’t really know. (Isaiah 55:8-9; 1 Corinthians 13:12) These passages highlight the huge knowledge gap between what God intends and what we know of God’s intentions.

Basically, the difference between God and human beings is greater than that between angels and insects. We simply do not have the capacity to grasp God’s ultimate purposes in creating the cosmos. Scripture does, however, reveal fragments of God’s  purposes that relate to our lives in this world. God’s eternal purposes reflect His perfect and eternal wisdom, and He has designed the world in such a way that we are most happy when God is glorified in our lives. For reasons that are incomprehensible to us, God has a passion for intimacy with His people, and we participate in His eternal purposes when we pursue Him with an undivided heart.

Do you believe that God’s purpose for your life is better than any purpose you could construct for yourself? If so, what implications does this have for you?

Purpose/Passion and Who I Am

Why do you get out of bed in the morning? What is your life purpose? Few people can articulate a clear purpose statement for their lives. It is ironic that people tend to put more effort into planning a two-week vacation than they do in thinking about the destiny of their earthly journey. Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 to gain more of an eternal perspective on this temporal journey.

Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

While Scripture provides us only glimpses of God’s ultimate purposes in creating the cosmos, the Word does reveal God’s universal purpose for believers. In short, this purpose is to know Christ and to make Him known. God does not want anyone to perish, but desires that everyone come to repentance and enter into a relationship with Him through the new birth in Christ (2 Peter 3:9). Once a person is born again as a child of God, God wants that person to grow in Christ and be conformed to His likeness (Romans 8:29). Thus, God’s purpose for each of us is edification (spiritual growth) and evangelism (spiritual reproduction).

God also has a unique purpose for each of us, and this relates to our distinctive temperaments, abilities, experiences, spiritual gifts, education and spheres of influence. Second Corinthians 4:16-18 provides the context for God’s unique purposes for our lives, and reminds us to develop an eternal perspective so that we will have a passion to give our lives in exchange for the things that God tells us will endure. Leaders need more than purpose and passion. They need to be passionate about the right things. What is your purpose for being on this planet? If you have not developed a purpose statement for your life, ask God to guide you in the process of creating one that fits with your passions and gifts.

Purpose/Passion and How I Think

Where does passion come from? One man who lived a hard life found the secret and, at eighty-five, was passionate about his purpose-driven life. His story is a must-read. Joshua 14:6-14 offers a brief case study on passion.

Read Joshua 14:6-14

What is it about some leaders? They seem to have that extra “Oomph!” Their people are unusually  productive, grievances from their area are infrequent and quality is high. People from other areas want to be transferred to their departments. The secret? Passion! Enthusiasm! These leaders have a clearly defined purpose that transcends merely pushing product out the door.

Caleb was that kind of leader. His “secret” was a secret to no one. Three times his brief biography states that Caleb followed the Lord with all his heart (vv. 8, 9, 14). He was enthusiastic, gutsy, passionate about proving what the Lord could do through one who trusted him completely.

Passion and clear purpose served Caleb well for his many years. And these two qualities are still an essential part of great leadership. For Caleb, that purpose and its consequent passion were transcendent. They were greater than any product of promotion or profit. He found a life-consuming passion: to follow God wholeheartedly. No higher purpose and no greater passion exist. This purpose gives maximum meaning to whatever a leader does.

Purpose/Passion and What I Do

We’ve learned that, as godly leaders, our purpose in life needs to be directed toward God and His kingdom. Does that mean we sit idly by and wait for Christ’s return? No. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:9 that we need to please God both in this life and the next, and Rick Warren gives us some great information on accomplishing the former.

Read 2 Corinthians 5:9

The Apostle Paul knew that one day the Lord would replace his earthly body with a resurrection body. While Paul didn’t want to be separated from his present body, he longed to be clothed with his new one. Such a longing didn’t lead the apostle to try to escape life or dismiss it as meaningless. On the contrary, that hope spurred him to please Christ.

Taken from Ken Boa’s Handbook to Spiritual Growth


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