Tuesday, March 13, 2012
A week or so ago, almost no one who reads my blog would have knowledge of Joseph Kony. Now, almost anyone with Facebook (and probably almost everyone else) has heard of him and the campaign of one group against this man. Why the change of awareness? Why did this group’s video go “viral”? Because of passion!
Passion. What is it that drives you? What, if you could spend your time focusing on one thing, would be “the” thing?
For believers, Jesus makes clear what the focus of “the” thing should be: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness…” (Matt. 6:33), “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matt. 22:37), and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:39). In other words, our primary passions should be for people and for God’s purposes. Our passion should be in line with Kingdom purposes (I’m not using “kingdom” in this post in a technical sense. While discussions of “how, when, where” of the kingdom are worthy discussions, they are not germane to this post. By “kingdom purpose”, I simply mean does it align with God’s purposes and principles?)
What might be the specific focus of our passion? This is not an exhaustive list, but we might feel passionate about:
Abortion (protecting the unborn)
Defense of marriage
Politics (positively influencing politics)
Sanctity of marriage
The poor and/or homeless
And the all-inclusive, “things such as these”
My personal passions focus around teaching God’s Word (here and abroad), helping men walk in sexual purity (largely, a lost art in our culture), and protecting the unborn.
As believers, we need to avoid two traps with our passions. The first trap: We are not passionate enough about the right things. We effectively put kingdom purposes in second (or third or…) place. My life, my comfort, my pleasures (among a host of other things) can become my primary passion. Many of the issue we become passionate are not bad, in themselves, however, they can squeeze out kingdom issues. For example, I love to fish. I enjoy few things more than standing in a river, sitting in a boat, fishing for bass or trout (or any other fish, for that matter!). But if fishing drives my schedule and my calendar (not the occasional planned trips, but as a rule), then I am probably not passionate enough about the right things.
How can you tell if kingdom issues are secondary for you? Ask yourself two questions: (1) “Is what I am passionate about a biblical issue?”, and (2) “What am I doing about the kingdom issues I say I am passionate about?” If the answer to the second is “almost nothing”, then you know it is really secondary in your life.
A second problem: We become too passionate about our passion.
Yep, too passionate.
Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in our passion that we think it ought to be everyone’s passion. Not only should it be everyone’s passion, but they should be equally passionate about it. And sometimes we minimize the passions of others (“mine is more important than yours”). “Too passionate” almost always takes a critical view of another’s view. Let’s see what “too passionate” might look like. So as to not step on any toes by using real examples, let’s call one passion “crickets” and another passion “frogs”:
“Everyone knows there are more crickets than frogs. Frogs are important, but we really need to focus on crickets. It has a bigger impact.”
“You don’t have the same passion for frogs as I do; therefore, something is wrong with your thinking.”
“This church doesn’t have enough of a passion for crickets. I am passionate about crickets, therefore, your ministry is wrong” (or, in another version, “therefore I am leaving the church”).
“Jesus spoke a lot about frogs. Therefore, that ought to be our passion.”
We might not say things so blatantly, but you get the idea. If my passion becomes the mark for measuring the validity of your passion, I’ve become too passionate. Be passionately passionate, but be careful not to become too passionate!
No one person can be passionate about everything and God may give you a passion for a “bigger” issue than He gives me. No one church can adequately address every need. But all of us can – and should – be passionate about something in God’s program. Passions are a lot like spiritual gifts – some seem more significant than others, but that’s only illusion. Just as each individual spiritual gift is important for the body as a whole, so is each kingdom-purposed passion.
Put this in action. Find your kingdom-purposed passion. Chase it. For the glory of God
- Ask yourself, “What kingdom purpose(s) am I passionate about?” If nothing comes to mind, ask God to give you a passion. Ask a church leader to help you find your passion.
- Get involved regularly in some capacity pursuing your passion. I have a friend who moved to India to pursue his. Your involvement might not be as drastic (but you never know where God may lead!), but get actively involved.
- Encourage others to find their passion.
- Encourage others as they pursue their passion.
- Help develop a ministry within your church that addresses your passion.
- Partner with others. For example, your church might not have an inner-city outreach program, and might not have the resources to develop an effective program. Without leaving your church, find an inner-city program you can get involved in.
Find your kingdom-purposed passion. Chase it. For the glory of God!