You can’t miss the urgency and passion with which Jesus carried out His ministry. Throughout His ministry, He spoke of musts, such as, “I must work the works of Him that sent me” (John 9:4).
As spiritual leaders, we know there is urgency to our labor, but we don’t always maintain it. The truth is, urgency is not the default mode; complacency is.
Strangely enough, it is our very successes in ministry that tend to feed complacency. It works like this: Success builds pride, and pride kills urgency.
Too often, Christian leaders become like the rich fool in Jesus’ parable. They receive God’s blessings, not in physical fruit, but in the form of fruit in ministry, and they settle in to just enjoy the fruit they have.
And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.—Luke 12:16–19
Contrast the farmer in that parable with Nehemiah. He not only sensed initial urgency for the needs of Jerusalem, but he had a sustained urgency through both success and opposition.
Quite honestly, most of us think we have more urgency than we demonstrate, because complacency is difficult to see in the mirror. So what does a spiritual leader with a sense of urgency for Christ do to maintain and communicate that urgency?
1. Urgent leaders have a healthy dissatisfaction with the status quo.
To a leader with urgency, there is always a sense of not just what is being done, but what still needs to be done.
Jesus modeled this. It was after what we would consider an incredibly fruitful day of ministry that He saw the multitudes and, moved with compassion, told His disciples the need for more laborers was still great.
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;—Matthew 9:35–37
2. Urgent leaders confront the challenges.
As a spiritual leader, a church, or an individual church ministry ages, they often develop a bias toward discussion, but not toward action.
An urgent leader is not content to simply observe or label needs. He does something about them. Talk is cheap; action is courageous.
When Paul left Titus in Crete, he gave Titus clear instructions that he was not just to identify the problems the churches in Crete were facing, but to confront the challenges and provide causative leadership.
For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:—Titus 1:5
3. Urgent leaders pursue growth, even when it is uncomfortable.
One of the ways I fight complacency is to continue setting goals that require faith. This is because comfort is the enemy of progress in the work of God.
The best goals are measurable, defined, and specific. Whether this is a goal of how many times each week you will look for an opportunity to share the gospel, how many class visits you’ll make, inviting someone to church every day, or perhaps beginning a new ministry, set real goals for it. And if you really want to pursue uncomfortable growth, after you prayerfully set goals, share them with others.
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 3:14
4. Urgent leaders remain spiritually passionate for Christ and the church.
As you might have guessed, I believe in developing a strategic plan for reaching goals. But you need more than a strategic plan to do the work of God; you need a spiritual passion.
If you do not remain spiritually passionate for Christ and for His church, the urgency you develop will morph into personal ego, not holy passion. This is not about you or me; it is about Jesus.
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.—Colossians 1:18
Nobody but the Lord Himself can give you a sustained urgency for the work of God. This kind of urgency is a byproduct of someone who is maintaining spiritual fervency in their walk with God and increasing faith in their labor for God.
Are you a faith-filled leader with urgency for the work of God? If you sense your sense of urgency slipping, spend time alone with God—renewing your heart for Him and asking Him to help you see specific challenges to overcome and goals to pursue for His glory.