Many leaders today have a difficult time juggling the brand vs. burden conundrum. I have watched many leaders leave their burden (calling) to protect their brand (reputation). From the outset of this article let me just say that I believe both are critical for any leader to excel and succeed. However, when our brand becomes more important than our burden we will begin to develop wrong priorities, make selfish decisions, and often compromise our burden for our own personal brand.
I have a brand. It's true. I have a website with my name on it. My instagram is littered with pictures of me. I still wear skinny jeans. I have fun glasses. I have had a soul patch - a little hair below your lower lip. Yes, I have a brand. I am not sure it is a good one, but I have one based on appearance, reputation, and misunderstanding.
I also have a burden. That burden has drive me for nearly 28 years of ministry - "at the end of the long days and late nights did anyone hear about Jesus?" God has placed an unique call on my life that is dualistic. I have a burden for my church, Church Unleashed. It is the primary mission that God has put in my wife, Mary, and my heart. That burden drives us to tell more people about Jesus and build His church. I have a burden for pastors & leaders. It drives me to host leadership events, write articles, and create podcasts. I truly desire to see pastors and leaders become everything God designed them to be.
God has a brand. He is the creator of Heaven and earth. He is our healer, our provider, our hope, our joy, our peace, and our strength. His brand is contained in the pages of Bible. It is the story of His brand.
God has a burden. It's a powerful burden that has directed Him for eternity. He desires to "seek and save those that are lost." It will always be His burden.
God is the only one who can perfectly manage brand vs. burden, but most of us wrestle with them both. Many leaders get confused on which is more important and that usually happens when that leader becomes popular or known. I have always said that I just want to be the same person whether somebody or nobody.
Let me make a bold statement: I believe that your burden is more important than your brand. Yes, I do. In fact, I don't believe it's even up for discussion and I am going to spend the next few lines demonstrating its priority.
BURDEN DRIVES BRAND
When God puts a burden or calling on your life it will drive every other decision you make. There are not many, if any, articles on burden vs. brand. Google it. I did. It seems that when you search for calling, brand, burden you will discover agency designed for 'brand management' or 'brand building,' however everyone of these are putting your personal brand over your God-given calling. Let me break this down. I am a pastor and a leader, but at the heart of who I am is pastor first. So, that means I preach the Word of God, whether it is favorable or not. That means I will teach the entire Bible without a filter, because that burden to preach the Gospel is more important than my brand. The burden I have to be who God called me to do will drive my brand, or my reputation.
BURDEN PROTECTS BRAND
You see, when we are walking in the burden that God hard-wired in our hearts it will protect our reputation. I have been accused of so many things over the years of leadership. I remember years ago when I was a youth pastor I had a leader in my denomination in youth ministry accuse me of being a "loose canon, wild-gun, and Lone Ranger." It was hurtful. Why did this individual make these statements? Simply because I started to pursue my burden, but it started to impact their brand. They were no longer the "only leader" investing in leaders. Did I cave into pressure? No, I chose the burden God placed on my heart and continued to host leadership conferences, invest in new churches, and coach pastors/leaders. Now, two decades later and I am doing even more with the burden God put in my heart. That's person's burden shifted, but mine has remained the same. Your burden will protect your brand.
BURDEN DEFINES BRAND
As a leader, I have allowed God to define who Todd Bishop is. I have refused to allow people to define me or redefine me. The burden I have for lost people causes me to do anything short of sin to reach people with the love of an incredible Savior. It has defined me. It defines our family and our mission. It defines our church and it's mission. Your brand is not as important as your burden - because your burden will ultimately define your brand.
So, how do you get a burden? How do you discover your calling? In my opinion, you go to your creator. You go to the one who created your destiny. Ask God, "What have you placed me on planet earth to do or to accomplish?" The Bible teaches anything you ask in His name He will accomplish. So, asking Him to reveal His purpose or burden to your life is as close as your willingness to ask.
Yes, it's okay to build your personal brand, but don't allow that to distract you from your God-given destiny - your burden.
ASK YOURSELF TODAY:
Has my brand become more important than my burden?
Am I walking in the unique calling God designed me for?
Who is speaking into my burden and who is speaking against it?
What is the first step to walking in my burden?