I am most effective as a leader when my passion is burning hot. It fuels my vision-casting. It gathers other leaders around its heat. It guides me forward by its light. It energizes me to set godly and ambitious goals. It warms me up when I encounter the chilling effects of opposition or apathy. It keeps me moving after failure. It ignites my prayers. As a leader, one of my primary responsibilities is to keep my passion hot.
In order to fuel my passion, I regularly ask this question: Where does the campus break God’s heart? You see, God’s compassion toward the campus drives my passion for the campus. I want my heart to break with the things that break God’s heart. I want to share his interests, participate in his plans, and pray his prayers for the university. To do that, I need to know where does its agony and pain capture God’s attention? Provoke his compassion? Invite his action?
When God heard the cries of the Israelites in Egypt, he acted. He called Moses to lead his people from slavery (Ex. 3:7-10). He continues to hear creation’s agonized groans today, and he intends to act by releasing it from its bondage (Rom. 8:18-21). I want to be a part of that. I get excited by being part of that. You do too, or you wouldn’t be reading this blog.
Where do we hear the cries and groans of our campus? I’ve been helped to listen for those cries by an observation made by Gordon MacLean, an urban missiologist. He asked, “When evangelicals talk about promiscuity, why do we only see lust, not loneliness?” Though sin provokes God’s wrath, it also arouses his compassion. He loves the people who are trapped in these situations. What if we looked at sin and its consequences through a lens of God’s compassion? As I listen to the campus, I hear some of the following:
· In the binge-drinking, excessive partying culture, I hear the cry of profound boredom and apathy. Many students can only find a pale copy of joy for only a few hours a week and only when their minds, hearts and souls are medicated through alcohol.
· In the arrogance of some professors, I hear a cry of fear driven by intellectual insecurity compared to their peers and by a Darwinian professional system which forces them to publish-or-perish. They find only a pale copy of peace by crushing the ideas and beliefs of others.
· In the racism and racial microaggressions which many students encounter daily, I hear the cry of fear, ignorance, and insecurity. Many students defame God’s image in others to preserve their own sense of superiority or value. They’ve twisted love to focus inward, not outward. Their kindness is reserved for themselves and those like themselves.
· In the addictions to pornography, food, drugs or on-line gambling, I hear a cry of desperation. Many students feel trapped by the compulsive power of these behaviors. They do not want to stop. They cannot want to stop. They are no longer in control.
I’m convinced that when God sees these things on campus, his compassion is aroused. He longs for the campus to flourish, to experience the fruit of his spirit, not just their pale counterparts. He intends to announce his offer of forgiveness to everyone. He’s called us to be his ambassadors of that message (2 Cor. 5:18-20). And that gets my passions going.
When you walk around the campus where do you hear creation’s cries? Look at what posters are on the billboards. Observe the most popular activities. Listen for the most common conversations. Read the campus paper and pay attention to the issues that ignite controversy. Then pray that God’s compassion would (re)ignite your passion.