Gold Nuggets of Leadership: Passion, Perseverance & Purpose

At BSSM, there are two types of classes: General classes that everyone takes together (e.g. Bible, Core Values) and Elective classes (called AMT’s) that are for a smaller class size. For my first semester, I chose to take an AMT called “Preparation for Leadership” taught by Olivia Shupe, who is an author and teacher. She also wrote the book “Renaissance Kids” about raising kids who are equipped and prepared to thrive and not just survive in today’s culture.

I looked forward to each session and probably took seven pages of notes on average during each class. The gold nuggets Shupe shared with us were so precious and relevant that I couldn’t help but try to write down every single word she spoke in class. Today I’d like to share some of these gold nuggets with you! Of course, these are not Shupe’s exact words, but rather a paraphrase of the main ideas, along with some really great quotes, that were shared in this class.


There is a major deficit of true leaders in the world—true leaders who empower others and help them find their destiny.

The truth is, everybody’s a leader to somebody. Even the most introverted person impacts 10,000 people throughout their lifetime. Some of the best leaders are quiet people. So we’ve got to change our paradigm.

Firstly, we must Measure & Assess our lives correctly. Success ≠ Achievement. Success = Faithfulness.

James 4:14-15 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

Seek the Lord for His plan for your life—it’s not usually what we would plan for ourselves. Sometimes, we need to do something outside of our gifting for a season—staying behind the scenes. This is where we learn to be successful in God’s eyes, remaining faithful wherever He has put us.

This concept is not easily grasped however. Studies show that this generation has the most over-inflated narcissist view of themselves. This has led to an overall exodus from the realm of sane and mature self-understanding to foolish (even stupid) endeavors to “one-up” and grasp for man’s praise and approval in purely outward ways. The ever-growing need for attention by outward achievement has led to this skewed perception of what success truly is.

The truth is, courage comes from obedience to God. Obedience is what enables us to be brave and do things rightly.

Secondly, Leadership is Influence. And authority is not power or title; authority is the fruit of your relationship with God. The truth of this statement can be witnessed in the lives of many great history-makers. In fact, an excellent way to learn about leadership is by reading biographies of great leaders: “If you want to get to know God, get to know the men who did.”

Winston Churchill is one of the greatest leaders in history. He once said, “Data will parade around as knowledge.” What separates leaders from other people is that leaders seek and embrace knowledge, which is birthed out of perseverance, experience and love for the truth, versus merely citing data bullet points.

The two major things that all true leaders do:

  • Leaders love their people.

Love carries you to unusual levels of devotion and labor. “You can love without leading, but you cannot lead without loving.”

Churchill had so much passion and compassion for the people that he sometimes cried so much during speeches that he’d leave out of embarrassment.

  • Leaders believe in their people.

Henry Ford once said, “My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.”

The job of leaders is to develop people. You win people’s hearts when you help them grow personally.

Finally, if you are called to be a leader (I think we all are), the following are four things to help you achieve your destiny. Remember, it’s a paradigm shift. Leaders are not comfortable living and thinking the way the rest of the world does—that’s what makes a leader.

1. Be Willing to Live Set Apart

That means, be willing to be different from other people. Be willing to pay the price. Influential leaders are willing to live counter-cultural, not for the “image” but for their convictions and faith—to stand alone, upright. Yes, it hurts to be misunderstood, but sometimes you need to go against the flow.

Living set apart does not look like praise and approval all-around. Leadership is lonely when you’re going against the current.

“Leaders are rare… diamonds shaped by unrelenting opposition.”

Olivia’s son once questioned her about why he was not allowed to engage in an activity that the rest of his friends were a part of, reasoning, “But everybody else does it.” She simply answered, “Well, we are not everybody.” This is a valuable lesson for all of us, let alone our children, to learn in this highly pressurized and politically correct culture we live in, where everyone is essentially expected to “fit in” and “adapt or die.”

According to studies, 98% people say they did not achieve the goals they wanted by the end of their life. What does that mean? Few people, only 2%, are truly willing to pay the price.

2. Become What You Want To Duplicate

We reproduce what we are, not what we teach. For example, a child will become the fruit of his/her parents’ temperament, meaning parents have to be twice as much as what they ask their children to be. Example is the most powerful tool.

More leaders fail from inner issues, not outer ones. “When we’re foolish, we want to conquer the world. When we’re wise, we want to conquer ourselves.” The fact of the matter is, we cannot conquer ourselves without Jesus.

At the same time, we need realize that change happens incrementally, so don’t be discouraged. It won’t happen overnight. The enemy likes to get us to be negative or too idealistic.

3. Cultivate Character (Greatness)

“It’s very easy to add anointing to character. It’s very hard to add character to anointing.”

Leadership is a product of character. We need to work on character as we walk in power. It’s not that we can’t do anything until we have great character, but if we don’t deal with big character issues, in the long run, they will take us out.

The most important character trait is Integrity. It builds trust. The question is, “What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t get caught?” It matters, because honestly, people see more than you realize.

4. Grow in Spiritual Maturity (i.e. becoming like Jesus)

“People change when they hurt enough they need to,
or when they receive enough they are able to,
or when they learn enough they want to.”

Be willing to change and grow. God releases his blessing in proportion to how much we’re willing to submit to Him. It’s the principle of reaping and sowing. He measures growth not by age but by maturity.

Finally, remember, God can even use bad mentors to teach us amazing things—there’s always great potential for growth; in such cases, we learn to farm in the valleys.


The enemy always plants a lie where the truth would do him the most harm.

Passion = Sacred Suffering. I love this definition of passion—I find it completely true. When we find something we’re passionate about, we’re willing to suffer for it. Apathy is the opposite of passion, and so is its definition: Apathy = without feeling or suffering. So what is your passion? The answer to that question can often be found in discovering your natural gifts and talents.

Genius = what you were naturally born with. Genius is nothing more than what we’re already good at. Everyone has a genius capacity. The journey is to discover our genius. Why? Because if we don’t know who we are, we can’t be an effective leader, and we don’t know who we are until we know what we can do. Once we figure that out, then we must develop these giftings, while realizing that there will also be seasons of doing things we are not good at.

Tapping into our gifts is the key to living in abundance. “Become so good at what you love to do that people pay you to do it.” It’s more worth it to have a job that doesn’t pay as much but that we love and enjoy.

Once we discover what our strengths are, the key is to focus more on our strengths than our weaknesses, and studies have shown that our weaknesses will actually improve. In other words, when we develop our dominant gift (whether it is sports or music, etc.), our lesser gifts (maybe math or science) also get pulled up along with it.

This principle of effect has been proven true in many cases, perhaps most notably among children with athletic tendencies. When they are allowed to develop their athleticism, their academic levels also improved, compared to their counterparts whose academic performances dropped once they were restricted from athletic involvement.

Tips for Discovering our “Favor” or Strengths:

  • PRAY
    • Ask God to give you divine connections.
    • God wants you to discover what you were made to do.
    • Experiment with all kinds of things to find what you’re good at. See what you have an aptitude for and passion for.
  • Ask yourself QUESTIONS
    • What would you do if you could do anything?
    • What would you be if you could be anyone?
    • What do you dream about?
    • Be yourself. Don’t look at others for what you should be. “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”
  • OBSERVE what your gifts are
  • Look for good MENTORS & COACHES
    • A good mentor/coach can take you from where you are to where you want to be. They believe in you and will help you get where you need to go.
  • Surround yourself with great people
    • “We are the average of the FIVE people we spend the most time with.” – Jim Rome
    • Once you discover your passion, be 100% COMMITTED to acting on it and developing it.
    • When you get the same words over and over, then you will start to see a pattern.


Passion is only part of the equation to success. The fact of the matter is, you may be called to different things in different seasons, but perseverance is the key to navigating through the ever-changing terrain of life.

One way to motivate yourself is to read well-written biographies of those who have journeyed through what you want to do. You will discover that in all cases, gifts & talents provide fuel for achievement, but without practice & perseverance, it burns out.

“Set yourself adamantly to discover what you want to do and then give yourself fully to doing it.”

“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you have already finished the hard work you did.”

To become great at things, you have to FOCUS. In-depth learning and in-depth focus is the key to becoming great at your gifts. The enemy knows this, and his most common go-to tactic is distraction; distraction leads to confusion. Your brain is wired for in-depth focus, so train your brain to focus. “Nothing is fun until you’re good at it.”

Parenting Tip: Don’t let your kids quit just because they don’t practice, but if they have absolutely no passion or aptitude at it, then it’s okay to quit.

Book Recommendation: Talent is Overrated, by Geoff Colvin

Here’s a quote to motivate you: “People at the top didn’t just work harder than others. They worked much, much harder.” Based on a study, people at the top succeed due to 1% talent and 99% hard work—and the right kind of practice. Practicing without focus results in slow and strenuous improvement. That’s the difference between Practice & Diligent practice.

Do you want to be mediocre at several things or really great at one or two things? Remember, “The tortoise beats the hare.” Set small goals daily/weekly. It really adds up over the course of a year.


Two of the hardest things to learn are:

  1. To think
  2. To do things in order of importance

Thinking ahead and doing things in order of priority are the mark of great leaders. One of the most common regrets people have later on in life is, “I should have taken charge of my life and set goals earlier.” Reality check: Life isn’t practice; it’s the real deal. The biggest reason why we don’t achieve our major goals in life is because we do “second things” first.

Tips for Goal Setting:

  • Set goals of where you are going.
  • Set realistic goals.
    Not too high that you want to give up and quit, but not too low that you’re not being stretched beyond what’s comfortable.
  • Be willing to do things you don’t like.
    It’s doing things we have to do, not just what we want to do.

    “Millionaires do things today that others won’t, so they can have a Tomorrow that others won’t.”

  • Set specific goals

    “Poor achievers don’t set goals.
    Mediocre achievers set vague goals.
    Great achievers set clear, specific goals.”

  • Make a “STOP DOING LIST”
    Think about how you spend your time that might hinder you from your goals.

Jesus never promised us comfort. He just promised to be with us.

“God always leads us; he doesn’t push us.”

That’s the end of Part 1! I might post Part 2 later on. There were so many gold nuggets in this class that I really need to exercise patience in order to organize all my notes into coherent paragraphs. haha. Hope you found it helpful and inspiring! 🙂

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