Run With Passion, Purpose and Perspective (1)

I love the writings of John Maxwell, noted author and speaker, on the subject of leadership.  Dr. Maxwell is first a pastor and then God called him out of the church to use his tremendous talent to help leaders from all types of organizations.  Regardless of his audience his teaching is Biblically sound and his approach is solidly based on Godly principles.  The title of this article is based on Maxwell’s notes regarding Hebrews 12:1-3.  He states “Hebrews 12 develops the theme of endurance.  The first three verses teach us that the key to persistence is passion.”

Hebrews Chapter 12 starts with the word “therefore” and Pastor Terry Ledbetter, Lead Pastor of NorthStar Church in Saltillo, MS, would say “any time scripture says ‘therefore’ you better ask ‘what is it there for?”  In this case it is pointing us back to Hebrews Chapter 11 which is known as the Faith Hall of Fame.  It mentions many people but I want to point out just a few to help us understand the relevance of the saints listed in Chapter 11.  On the list is Moses, yet he was a murderer; David is in the Faith Hall of Fame yet he was an adulterer and was guilty of conspiracy to commit murder; Rahab is among those included in the Hall of Fame yet she was a prostitute.  So how in the world did people like this end up in God’s Faith Hall of Fame?  While the answer may seem too simple to be possible, the fact is they repented of their sins and turned their lives over to the Lord with a desire and passion to complete His mission.  Maxwell states “All the men and women of faith in Hebrews Chapter 11 ‘made it’ because they felt passionate about God’s cause for their lives.  The writer compares our lives to a race and tries to convince us that we must run with endurance if we plan to finish well.”  God’s men must recognize that God does not seek out those that are perfect but those that are perfectly willing to be obedient to His calling and His direction.

So if the key to persistence is passion the critical question becomes what to be passionate about.  You see Satan provides many forms of distraction that men are drawn to and may become passionate.  Satan uses drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography, adultery, and the list goes on and on of things to draw men’s attention causing them to lose their passion for what should be their “first love” which is their relationship with our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ His Son.  So if passion is the key to persistence, God’s men must persistently and fervently single-mindedly seek God and His direction for their lives.  Running a race requires focus and purpose.  God’s men have a purpose in their race and that purpose is to seek God’s direction and guidance in every aspect of our lives. Hebrews 12:1-3 gives us three important things we should consider if we desire to finish the race well.

1.  Consider those who have gone before us.  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses”2  Those who have gone before us, those described in Hebrews 11, have shown us how to finish well.  We have numerous examples of what it means to be disobedient and the consequences as well as numerous examples of what it means to be obedient and the consequences of taking that path as well.  So often men say things like “God can’t use someone like me.”  Nothing could be further from the truth and all one has to do is read Hebrews Chapter 11 to discover that God can use anyone who becomes passionate about serving Him.

2.  We have to take a serious, honest look at ourselves.  Consider this statement: “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”3  Maxwell says “It is now our turn to run the race and watch for pitfalls.  We must lay aside every encumbrance that would prevent us from finishing well.  The best of runners make sure that they have lightened their load to only the bare essentials so that they do not have added weight that is unnecessary and will slow them down. So here are the questions to God’s men: (1) What are you hanging on to that is slowing your progress in God’s race? (2) What has you so tangled up in its grasp that it is distracting you from your first love, Jesus Christ?  (3) Where is your passion and purpose?  An easy way to find out is this, where do you spend your time, energy and money.  That will pretty quickly tell you where your true passion lies.  Oh, you may be saying all the right words and showing up in the right places but where is your true passion?  Are you running the race set out before you by God?

3.  We have to keep an ever present focus on how Jesus ran the race.  ”Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”4  Jesus ran His own race and endured challenges and hardships by staying focused on what would come to Him at the completion of the race.  Too many times we expect immediate results and gratification and if we don’t receive it we move on to something else.  The author of Hebrews knew us quite well when he said “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus” because the only way we can maintain our passion, purpose and perspective is by keeping our eyes on Him.  The only time these two words are used together in scripture “author and perfecter (some translations use the word finisher) of our faith” tells us that it is Jesus that starts the His work in us and He will be at the finish line to complete the work He began.

There is no doubt that there are many events and situations all around us that can cause God’s men to grow weary and lose focus.  That is why it is so incredibly important that we understand from where our passion, purpose, and perspective comes … JESUS CHRIST. “Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”   Keep your eyes on Jesus, not circumstances, not situations, not hardships but keep your eyes firmly fixed on Jesus and run the race He sets before you with passion, purpose and perspective so that you can finish strong!

[1] This article is based on John Maxwell’s comments written in The Maxwell Leadership Bible, published by Thomas Nelson Bibles, Copyright 2002, page 1514.
[2] Hebrews 12:1a.  All scripture used in this article is taken from the 1984 NIV translation of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.
[3] Hebrews 12:1b
[4] Hebrews 12:2-3

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