Monday, October 23, 2006


I have been praying about the passions in my own life. As I have done so, I have come to a few conclusions.

1) Know your passions. They are powerful. Passion will lead people to great achievements and great evils. Think about the things you ARE passionate about - Not the things you SHOULD be passionate about, but the things you ARE passionate about. There are some things that motivate us to get out of bed in the morning and approach the day with enthusiasm. Then there is the rest of life.
2) If you honestly discern your passions, you will find some that lead to sin and death. I have very simple advice about these passions. Do NOT pursue them. But don’t deny their reality. Spend time with trusted advisors discussing them. Let people that love you, care about you, and can see the spark of Christ within you, help you to understand those passions. They are false passions. (See Jeremiah 2:12,13) Satan and sin have deceived you into thinking that the things that will in reality destroy you are deeply desireable. If you trace those passions back, you will find a “good” passion beneath them.
3) If you honestly discern your passions, you will find some that lead to love and life and service. If you tried to stop one of these, it would become a “fire in your bones, that you could not contain.” (Which is what happened when to Jeremiah when he decided not to proclaim the word of God.)

I’m going to suggest a task that will help you identify key passions. Make a list of your daily activities. Then put those activities into three groups.

The first group is those that you are truly excited about. If your day will be spent on these, you will look forward to that day for weeks in advance. I absolutely look forward to teaching scriptural lessons on life. When I don’t teach for more than a few weeks I start feeling the fidgety need and annoying the people around me by turning everything into a “teaching moment.” I have actually said the sentence “Yes, I know your broken leg hurts, but let’s think about what pain means in your life.” – I know, it’s ridiculous – but it is also my passion demanding expression. The activities on this list, the ones you love to do and look forward to, are close to your passions. One last point of clarity should be made. I’m not talking about things that are fun. (I don’t think Paul enjoyed stoning or rejection.) I’m talking about things that are so meaningful to you that you will endure the stoning and rejection in order to keep doing them.

The second group is those things that you are not passionate about, but you do them in order to make the investment into something you are passionate about. I do not go to my office daily because I love what I do there. I go to my office because I am passionate about being a responsible provider for my family. I do not run nearly every day because I am passionate about running or sweating. I run because I am passionate about refereeing at a level that requires fitness. These sometimes feel like obligations. They feel that way because our passion forces us to do them, even though we would not otherwise choose them.

The third group, is everything you haven’t put into one of the other two categories.

O.K. I expect this will shock some of you. The things in that third list are things you do for no good reason. (Watching Fox & Friends, most trips out to eat, and most movies I see go in this list for me.) You see, I’m going to argue that if your activity isn’t something you’re passionate about, or something that indirectly leads to your passion, it’s a waste of your time. You are not at that moment spending the days wisely. You are engaging in activity that is not furthering your relationship to Christ, or your fulfillment of His call on your life. I’m very tempted to call that sin. It is certainly not “redeeming the time.”

If it does not lead you to your passion, why are you doing it? You probably need to stop. Even good things can go here. We can be doing so many good things that we are not doing the most important things that God has called, gifted, designed, and tasked us to do. What work of God are you leaving out so that you can spend your time on this activity?

There are two important applications here.
1) If you are doing it because it indirectly leads to your passion, but it feels like tedious drudgery, it’s time for a step back from the trees to see the forest. I need to be reminded of the passion behind my shuffling papers across my desk. This is the means God has provided for me to meet my passionate desire to provide for my family. That “forest” the big picture behind my activity, stirs passion, stirs hope, stirs contentment. With that focus it becomes easy to “whatsoever you do, in word or deed, do it all for the glory of God.”
2) If you are NOT doing the act directly or indirectly out of your passion, it is probably not part of God’s calling on your life. And even if it is a good thing, I don’t think God is pleased. He’s not in the business of creating round pegs for square holes. I really wouldn’t expect much reward for doing even wonderful tasks, outside what God has called me to do. If it’s not part of His purpose for your life (and your lack of passion is great confirmation that it is not…) then you cannot possibly do it “for the glory of God.” Please stop wasting your time and energy on these things. Save your energy for those that lead directly or indirectly to your God-given passion.

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