Passion and Perseverance: Lessons from the Great One

The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.
Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch

…whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10.31

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The number 99 has been forever retired from the National Hockey League. No player will ever again wear the number that for twenty-one NHL seasons graced the jersey of Wayne Gretzky. He led his team to win four Stanley Cups on the way to rewriting the NHL record book. Widespread opinion in the sports world holds that not only is Gretzky the greatest hockey player ever but the best that may ever be! No wonder he is nicknamed “The Great One.”

It is an interesting tribute to the player Time magazine referred to as “a most unlikely one.” Even in his prime, Gretzky wasn’t the fastest skater, the strongest shot or the most talented player. He explained his remarkable success with these words: “Maybe it wasn’t talent the Lord gave me. Maybe it was the passion.”

The gift Gretzky’s Ranger teammates gave him at his last practice said nothing of his records or accomplishments. It was a leather sofa in the shape of a baseball mitt, with a brass plaque bearing the message: “Thank you for your passion.”

Ultimately it’s what is inside that determines your leadership effectiveness. If that is not maintained, in time things will crumble and fall from the inside. In the final analysis, it may not matter how well we have performed or what we may have accomplished. A life without heartfelt passion is a life not worth living. It is out of this fountainhead of our soul that produces our real accomplishments, genuine and meaningful leadership and lasting fulfillment. It is in our heart that we first heard the voice of God and His call on our life and it is in our heart that we learn to live and lead in His love.

Can you think of anything more exciting than to have the privilege of leading? If our goal is to impact others for the sake of eternity can there be anything more exciting than to be entrusted with this lofty privilege of leadership? Passion kept Gretzky skating for twenty-one demanding years, it sustained Moses for forty arduous years and it can do the same for you!

Stay the Course,

Dr. Greg Morris

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This article is adapted from Dr. Morris’ book, In Pursuit of Leadership available from Amazon in paperback or recently reduced price  Kindle version.

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