The next post in this series takes a shot at answering this question:
Passion – how important is it to find yours?
Passion is a fascinating concept to me. I love thinking about the various ways God has uniquely built our personalities, interests, histories, abilities, talents, and bestowed spiritual gifts – all for his glory. It’s a fun subject to me. During college and in my early twenties, I took more than a few assessments (related to both temperament and spiritual gifts) and participated in trainings and classes all designed to help me discern where I’m most fitted for ministry. In some ways, I found them helpful, but mostly I’ve since developed a caution in my approach to these discussions. Through experience, I learned that it is easy to place too much emphasis on the discovery process and find myself tripped up and missing Christ.
There are a couple of ways I see that too much focus on “knowing” our passions and gifts can hurt us: One, we might refuse to move forward in any kind of serving because we’re unclear what our passions are. Some people seem to know exactly what they were meant to do, and we don’t. We have asked God to reveal it, but he hasn’t so we keep waiting. Two, we may be so confident in knowing our passions that we resist opportunities to serve in any other place. We play the passion card and just say “no” to every need God places in our path that doesn’t line up with our known passions. It is easy to make passion a tool for avoiding uncomfortable situations. We can turn knowledge of our passion or our lack of it into an excuse.
Hoping to avoid that, I try to remember a few things: Discovery of our passions and gifts typically happens as we’re serving, not before. It’s in the doing that we find if what we do actually helps meet someone’s need; our gifts can be affirmed in that way, and joy then flows from living on mission. I’ve never known God to fully enlighten me in how he’s going to use me before he does. Complete understanding of our ministry passions is not a prerequisite for stepping into God’s game plan for our lives!
Additionally, if we refuse to serve in uncomfortable places that are outside our passions as we know them, we may never experience this one beautiful form of God’s grace that I’m just beginning to love: grace in and for our weakness in serving. This stance causes us to miss out on some of the best ministry experiences – learning to serve out of discomfort and awkwardness and watching God supply all of our needs anyway. It’s our nature to resist it, but it’s a wonderful thing he does for our souls in that place. What other positioning reflects the gospel we believe and the kingdom we’re seeking? It’s for the poor in spirit. How quickly I forget that and spend my life trying to avoid the places that bring me nearest to him.
And who knows what new passions he will develop in us as he leads us in these different opportunities? Some passions remain strong, and others change in different seasons; I want my passion to be for Christ more than any particular ministry niche. I trust he’ll reveal the other details as I need to know them.