"For Those Who Are Passionate About Reaching The Younger Generation"

Youth Ministry Topics Personal Life of the Youth Worker

Lessons From a Passionate Life

Dr. Dann Spader

Lessons from a Passionate Life, By Dann Spader

Wayne Gretzky has become one of my personal heroes.  He impacted the sport of hockey in such a way that his Jersey Number 99 was permanently retired by the National Hockey League.  Known as "The Great One,"  it has been predicted that hockey will never again see a player who played the sport with as much passion as Wayne. During his long and illustrious career in hockey Wayne Gretsky accomplished a lot. But when you look at Wayne as a hockey player, Time Magazine called him "A Most Unlikely One.1 " As a player Wayne was not that fast and had a shot that was strangely weak. On his team he was always the last in strength training and his physique was anything but impressive.  If you looked at the outside of Wayne Gretsky, he was the most unlikely one to have accomplished what he did during his lifetime. When Time Magazine ran this by Wayne his face lit up and he said "Maybe it wasn't talent the Lord gave me.  Maybe it was passion." When someone lives a focused life....of passion, it's amazing what can be accomplished.   Jesus Christ lived that type of life.  His mission was clear.  His life was full of passion for the mission His Father had given Him.  Because of His deep and abiding love for His Father, for the people of His time, He modeled a ministry that impacts the world today. For those of us in ministry, what would it take to live a passionate life filled with Christ's values? How do we develop people who are passionate about walking as Jesus walked?  How do we partner with God to rearrange the priorities of our lives to make them line up with God's heart and desires?

 I have become convinced that Christ's mission was to develop a movement of multiplication. His mission was not to reach the world, as much as creating a movement of multiplication that could reach the world.  As you study Christ's life, you find three disciplines that enabled Jesus to sustain His passion for the priorities that furthered this movement
of multiplication.

1)  The Discipline of Prayer.  Jesus developed an intimate relationship with His Father through prayer.  In my study of Christ's life, I found over 45 instances in the Bible mentioning prayer and over 30 different occasions when Christ was teaching or modeling His dependence upon prayer.  Prayer was such a significant part of Christ's life that it was the only aspect of His life that His disciples asked for specific teaching when they said, "Lord teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1).  They could have said, "Lord, teach us to do miracles, to raise the dead, or heal the sick" but they recognized the source of Jesus' dynamic power for ministry-His intimate prayer life with His Father.

Why did Jesus pray?  Could it be that in His humanity, he didn't always know the next step to take....but He knew where to get the next step. His passion for pleasing His Father, always listening to Him and obeying Him...fueled this movement of multiplication.  In Christ's life, I see a pattern we need to adopt for these busy times.  As Christ's ministry grew and became more demanding, He slipped away to talk to His Father MORE frequently, instead of less.  As ministry leaders today we need to "walk as Jesus walked..."  reflecting both the character and priorities of Christ as it relates to prayerful dependence.

 2)  The Discipline of Loving, Caring Relationships. 

 Jesus knew that all change comes through relationships.  He taught this through the Great Commandment (Matt. 22:37-40).  He modeled this by His living an incarnate life demonstrating the depth of God's love for people.  He
lived a life on earth that modeled the deep experience of loving relationships that changed lives (John 3:22).   Jesus taught a "new commandment...to love one another" (John 13:34-35) and challenged His disciples "As my Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love" (John 15:9). After Jesus was gone, His disciples continued His ministry of love by spurring each other on with passion for the things of God.  As ministry leaders we need also, through relationships, to encourage one another to keep our passion for God fresh. Is is easy to hit the wall of ministry day after day and see  passion fade? In the midst of our busy ministry schedules, programs can quickly replace people and we lose passion for the things that burn in the heart of God?  God has called us to be shepherds, and at the heart of shepherding is caring relationally for the hurts and needs of His sheep.

3) The Discipline of the Word.   Jesus proclaimed the basic truth of the Scriptures with power and authority (Luke 4).  In 90 references Jesus quoted from over 72 New Testament passages, showing a deep knowledge and love for the Word of God.  Jesus invested time to know the Word of God personally and made the Word of God central to all of life
and ministry.  Jesus knew the Scriptures.  He used the Word in every area of life. As ministry leaders do we talk to people about God's Word or do we use the actual Word of God?  As Jesus came up against difficult issues of
life, the Word was central in helping people to understand how to deal with the demands of life.  The Word was not just talked about, it was used.  Everything was evaluated through the lens of God's word. Constantly I evaluate my own life against Christ's.  Do I love the Word and use it as Jesus did?  Do I evaluate all of life's demands against the backdrop of Scripture? It is obvious that Jesus did.

 The new church in Acts 2 continued steadfast in these four disciplines of Christ's life...the Apostles' teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer (Acts 2:42).  The by-products of these four disciplines for the ministry was an expectant faith, a spirit of worship and praise, they saw God working supernaturally within their midst, and people were regularly being saved, which gave them a renewed passion (Acts 2:43-47).  Jesus modeled it every day and expected His disciples to live out these same disciplines. Yet, these disciplines did not come easily to His disciples. Jesus was
often saddened by their lack of passion for the things of God.  In Mark 4:40 He asks "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"  As a leader of a ministry, do you ever find yourself in the category of living a life of "no faith?"  Having begun our ministry by faith, we try to continue on by our own efforts.  Jesus expected more of His disciples
and expects more out of us than to be living lives filled with "no faith."

Have you ever wondered what it would take to amaze Jesus?  In His life, Jesus never expressed amazement at anybody's stature, wealth, learning or lack of learning. There are only two instances in the New Testament
where it says that Jesus was amazed. Both times had to do with someone's faith, or lack of it.   In Luke 7 Jesus was amazed at the Centurian  who said, "Lord don't trouble yourself.  You don't need to come under my roof for I don't deserve it.  Just say the word..."  When Jesus heard this, He was amazed and said, "I have not found such great faith, even in Israel." Then in Mark 6, there was the encounter with his hometown of Nazareth and "He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And He was amazed at their lack of faith"
(Mark 6:5). Is God amazed at your life of faith.  Hopefully its a life of "great faith" not a "lack of faith."  God's desire is that we step out in great faith.   As we step out, He gives us more faith, which increases our faith.  Ephesians 5:10 says try to find out what pleases God.  The Bible tells us that faith pleases God.  In Hebrews 11:6 it tells us "without
faith it is impossible to please Him...." Our ministries need to be so supernatural that when people look at them
that people say that without a doubt God has done it.  That's "great faith."

Wayne Gretzky was in many ways "average"-yet he was passionate. That's why I like being average. An average Christian....who lives a focused, passionate life, can have great faith.  Then when something happens it's so easy to keep perspective.  When we have great faith it's about God doing something since there's not a doubt that He has done it.  That's the kind of faith we need to live in. Great faith a by-product of a focused, passionate life which walks as Jesus walked.  is in proportion to where we're at in our personal lives.  Bill Bright wrote, "There was a time that God consistently increased my faith.   First he increased my faith to trust him for six people, then 20 people, then 50, then 100, then 1,000.  Then God gave me the faith to trust him for a million, then 100 million, and now I'm praying for 1 billion people to come to Christ. And I believe that He's going to do that." That's someone living with a growing faith...coming out of a focused, passionate lifestyle. I believe this is what God's going to raise up. A whole bunch of average people with a focused lifestyle and passionate faith.  People throughout Canada who are passionate about the ministry model lived out by Jesus.  Now, that's something to be excited about!

Publication Information

First published in "The Evangelical Baptist," in Canada, November/December 2000, used by permission.


Dr. Dann Spader founded and directs Sonlife Ministries (http://www.sonlife.com). Sonlife trains church leaders, women in ministry, youth leaders and students to make disciples. They want to restore in the heart of the local church a passion for Great Commission and Great Commandment living.