The Thing About Passion

Image by Shawn Rossi

I hear it all the time. I even say it sometimes. “I’m just not passionate about that.” It’s a phrase typically uttered when somebody is quitting a role they’ve been serving in or when they are declining to take on a new responsibility. It’s a fancy (perhaps more acceptable) way of saying “I just don’t want to do that.” The expected response is, “Well, you should do what you are passionate about.”

That’s crap. That’s Dr. Phil stuff, not God stuff. Sure, passion has a part to play in our lives and I am a firm believer in investing in what God has wired you for, given you passion for and called you to do. But here’s the thing – God hasn’t given you passion for tasks. Yet, usually, when someone bemoans their lack of passion for something, it is task-oriented.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re a fisherman. You love to fish. You’re passionate about fishing. But does your passion extend to every task involved with fishing? Do you love buying fuel for the boat and bait for the hook? Do you relish cleaning out the cooler after a long day on the water? Are you pumped every time you have to put new tires on the trailer, more duct tape on the seats or when you slice your hand trying to remove a hook? Are those your best moments? Are you passionate about them?

Within anything we do, even the things we’re most passionate about, there are tasks that are unpleasant. There are tasks we do simply because they must be done, not because they give us the warm fuzzies. We know this. And yet, when it comes to certain tasks – particularly ones that have to do with serving God or other people – we so easily glide into the “I’m not passionate about that,” excuse.

As a pastor, I have to do a lot of things every day that I’m not passionate about. I talk to people I would rather not talk to. I fix things I would rather not fix. I answer questions I would rather not answer. Like anything worth doing, there is much about this vocation that is difficult and draining. Sometimes I want to quit. Sometimes, it would be easy to say, “I’m just not passionate about this.”

The problem is, I am. I am passionate about this. “This” (which I’m passionate about) is God and his church. I’m passionate about my God – who he is and what his plan is for me, for my city and for the world. I’m passionate about leading in a healthy, growing church community, rich in diversity, who invites and welcomes anyone and everyone into our family and the family of Jesus. I’m passionate about representing Jesus to the world in a way that truly reflects him, rather than reflecting the political or social agenda of a select few. I’m passionate about seeing others come into and grow in their relationship with Jesus.

And so, I do tasks that I’m not passionate about. I get up at 5 a.m. on Sunday mornings. I buy creamer for coffee, locks for trailers and toner for printers. I wrestle with service formats, communication pieces and website copy. I have meeting after meeting after meeting about budgets and finance and I pray fervently that God will supernaturally provide the resources needed to do the work he has called us to.

I’m not passionate about the tasks, but I’m passionate about the end goal – about God and his church. And in his church, there are a lot of tasks to be done – tasks which are not glamorous and which don’t elicit a whole lot of passion. In fact, I’ve never known anyone who was passionate about running a cable, setting up a curtain or hanging a sign. I’ve never watched anyone leap for joy at the thought of aligning a video projector, making coffee or setting out chairs. I do, however, know people who are passionate about the end goal. And these people will do whatever it takes to create a church environment where people from all walks of life can come and worship God together.

Jesus was passionate about God and his church, too. He was so passionate, in fact, that he endured the tasks of being arrested, beaten and hung on a cross to die. Those things came with the territory. They were part of the job. Was he passionate about them? No. He prayed that he could get out of those tasks. But he was passionate about God’s will – about the plan that had been put into place before the creation of the world. And it was that passion which caused Jesus to take those selfless steps to Calvary.

So, you’re not passionate about “that”? Maybe you need to redefine your “that”. God has given you an incredible opportunity to play a small role in his grand plan for the world, for your city and for the people who walk through the doors of your church. Get passionate about that and you’ll have the motivation to do whatever it takes.