Since the onset of the pandemic I have struggled with maintaining passion. Sudden unwanted change can bring out the usual passion killers. And, let’s face it, humanity is highly susceptible to passion killers. The usual suspects for killing passion are indecisiveness, bureaucratic complexity, competing priorities, cynicism, confusion, fear, backroom politics, victim mentality, mediocrity, mistrust... .perhaps you can add to this list. Perhaps you recognize some of these that have been attacking your passion and blurring your vision and mission.
Connecting passion to purpose is important for transforming mere enthusiasm to sustained passion. At the core of purpose is being clear on at least three things; who and whose you are (your gifts, values and who you belong to), what you are trying to become and what you are trying to build.
Let’s face it. We will all need passion for the work Jesus has called us to accomplish, making disciples and guiding any community of believers to be disciples who make disciples. Right?
So, if you are finding your passion under attack or you are drowning in the pool of uncertainty as to just what God is calling you to do, try this exercise.
First revisit and clarify “who you are” as opposed to “what you do.” Would you agree that many folks tend to attach “who they are” with “what they do” and get lost in this transaction? If we have placed our trust in Jesus; if we have been inspired by the love of God, the teachings of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, and/or the internally dwelling of the Holy Spirit; if we own that we are children of God; if we claim with our lives that Jesus is Lord and Savior; then who we are is inexplicably connected to Whose we are. You might flesh this out a bit more. It will likely require step two.
Establish margin, time and space, in your life to pursue the “who.” That is to confirm who you are and to Whom you belong. If passion is to be sustained, a daily exercise is key. A friend of mine trains horses. He knows that regular daily training and connection is the best way maintain a well disciplined horse. Humanity needs this as well. In Isaiah 50:4, on the prophecy of Jesus, it says, “He (the Father) awakens Me (Jesus) morning by morning, He awakens my ear to listen as a disciple.” Of course, this was his pattern as he walked this earth. Check out Mark 1:35. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left his house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” I’m thinking this included reviewing the word of God so as to listen to God. Then he responded to what he was hearing. Jesus listened and responded to better understand who he was, Whose he was and how that translated in to what to do. This should help with step three.
Identify your North Star. Not what you want the North Star to be, but what is your life spinning around? What are you depending on to be your constant? Is it the thing that never changes, our Lord, or something that does change? Perhaps your default North Star is a problem precisely because you have chosen one that is designed to change, one that is created to circle the one true North Star.
Decide who you want to be and Whose you want to be. By “decide” I mean commit. By “commit” I mean establish the necessary disciplines and assign your best energy to honor this decision everyday. Often we give our best energy and disciplines to some other pursuit. The promise of God is that if we give it to him first, he will give us the strength to do all other things. You know, “Seek first the Kingdom...,” or, “I can do all things...,” or how about, “In all your ways acknowledge Him...”
Get clear on your purpose: Here are a few more good questions for this step. What’s important to you? What gives your life meaning? What makes you feel fulfilled? Who can you serve? When are you your best self? Does it line up with God’s purpose for his followers?
Look, this down and dirty exercise is not the only one, but I’m hopeful that it is useful. The idea is, for those who feel their passion drifting away, to readdress the primary source rather than accept temporary enthusiasm for some new project or some old comfortable habit. We will all need this passion if, like Paul, we are to make it through the challenges and suffering as we make disciples who make disciples.