Often I read or hear people recommend that we find our passion and engage it. This is especially recommended when it comes to what we do for work. Forbes recently cited a Gallup poll showing that the percentage of employees who are passionate about their job is at a lowly 34%. The solution is for people to be passionate about what they do.
I think it’s great if a person’s passion and occupation are the same. But that hasn’t been my experience. Given Gallup’s numbers, it doesn’t seem to be the experience of most. And, if I may say so, I’m not sure it’s God’s mind for everyone.
My occupation is social services—helping elderly and disabled people get necessary supports. I think I am well-suited for this work, and I am fortunate to work for a fantastic non-profit organization. Every day, I am thankful for a way to pay the bills, co-workers I enjoy, and the ability to help others.
But if I’m being honest, social services is not what gets me up in the morning; it isn’t my passion, as they say.
What does get me up in the morning? Jesus, and helping people know Him by sharing God’s word. Writing and music are close seconds. If I could do these things and hang out with my family most of the day, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
But God hasn’t given this to me. Don’t get me wrong: as much as time and opportunity allow, I share Jesus and try to build up the body of Christ. There is also time for writing, music, and family. That said, most of my time is spent doing what isn’t my “passion.”
Still, social services may be the Lord’s passion. (One of them, anyway). The Bible does talk about helping widows and orphans in their distress (James 1:27). Second Corinthians 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich.” Jesus is all about sacrificing Himself and what He has to help others.
This brings me back to the word “passion.” These days, “passion” describes a strong emotion or that which is most fulfilling to a person. But the etymology links back to Latin and Greek words used to describe suffering. In fact, the Latin and Greek words were used most often in reference to what Jesus suffered on the cross. Think of Mel Gibson’s film, “The Passion of the Christ.”
Isn’t it ironic that we’ve taken a term about Christ’s sacrificial suffering and made it all about our own satisfaction? How typical of humanity to turn something of God on its head.
From God’s perspective, pursuing a passion is not about fulfilling myself. It is about letting Jesus fulfill Himself through me. Following a passion does not mean I am wholly gratified. In fact, it may involve some suffering, some loss of my own hopes and dreams, so that others benefit.
My prayer is to embrace the Lord’s passion and pursue it. I don’t pray this in reference to my job only but more broadly: that I may participate in the passion of the Lord, not just my own fulfillment.