We all have motivations, drives and dreams. But I’ve come to notice one thing.
Lots and lots of people say they’re driven by their passion.
In fact, everyone’s passionate these days. There have never been so many passionate people. My advice to you if you’re one of them is this, just stop. Please.
Because you’re probably not that passionate at all.
Don’t get me wrong but I think passion is mistaken for just being ‘really into’ something.
But I believe we can find a better way of defining and living our motivations and drive.
So if you really want to commit to a cause or an idea or enterprise, I believe it’s better to be a person of faith instead.
There’s a big advantage here; you will carry something deeper and longer lasting than passion, as its widely misunderstood.
But I’ll get to that.
First, let’s really put our various ‘passions’ to the test.
That word, passion.
‘Passionate’ has been emptied of meaning. You know it’s so when everyone puts it on their CVs.
Passion has become an employability criterion.
The funny irony is that anyone genuinely passionate would be unemployable.
Because to be passionate is to be all consumed by something.
Here’s what I mean. Let me introduce you to a person who embodies passion to his fingertips. And he’s typical of what it means to be authentically passionate.
The agony and the ecstasy of Michelangelo.
Michelangelo was a sculptor. Sculpture was his all-consuming passion.
When we think of him we think of the Sistine Chapel frescoes. But the truth is painting was just a side gig. Like the architecture and the poetry.
Quite a gig though wasn’t it?
That’s because Michelangelo was a genius.
And by genius, I don’t mean the guys that work in an Apple store. Instead, he would be the person who designed the stores and all the products inside.
That kind of genius.
Genius and passion often work hand in hand I’ve noticed.
Michelangelo’s passion touched every aspect of his life. It was all he ever lived for. And for him, it was the quest for perfection sculptured in marble. An idealised realisation of form.
I think he did it, don’t you?
To have passion is to suffer.
Michelangelo’s passion for sculpture and art was his own ‘agony and ecstasy’, (to quote the title of Irving Stone’s novel inspired by his life).
And that’s where we find the true meaning of passion. Like Michelangelo, it’s living the extremes to fulfil what consumes you.
No surprise then that its word origin in Latin means to suffer.
So if you’re prepared to suffer for your art, dream or enterprise then you are truly passionate.
But there’s a cost that comes with a passion too. It can be to yourself and others close to you.
You will know when you’re around someone passionate because your experience will be testing on a good day and miserable on a bad.
And that’s how it was hanging around Michelangelo. His patron, Pope Julius II, almost had him sacked on a number of occasions.
But the temperamental artist won out. It was always going to be Michelangelo’s way of doing things or nothing at all.
So don’t be surprised that passionate people can be difficult to get along with.
A better way to have drive and vision for life.
Now I want to present an alternative to being passionate that’s without so much personal suffering on yourself and others.
I’m saying it’s better to be a person of faith instead.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1.
This verse is from the Bible’s book of Hebrews in the New Testament. I think it’s the best definition of faith there is.
It may not sound as emotive as ‘passion’ but it’s a better way to channel the drives and enthusiasms we have at different times in our life. Here’s why.
Faith is recognising something bigger than yourself.
I find people who relentlessly pursue their passion to be too easily self-centred. It’s all about ‘my dreams’, ‘my art’, ‘my ambition’.
This is not always bad but it can be lived in a way that’s too self-centred.
However, to be a person of faith is to recognise that no matter how big your dream is, it pales in comparison to the hopes God has for you, me and all humanity.
If our faith, hope (and yes passion) is aligned with God’s then big and amazing things can happen.
And we can do those things that don’t just fulfil our own desires but include others in that fulfilment too.
Let’s look at someone whose life embodies being a person of faith.
Martin Luther King Jr: a person of faith.
This difference between being a person of faith and passion is beautifully seen in the life of Martin Luther King Jr.
All his actions in life came out of his being a person of faith. His biblical values inspired him to achieve much in a tragically shortened life.
It was never all about him, his desires or even his movement.
He was directing people to a greater, grander vision of racial equality. And he lived and breathed that hope day in, day out.
He was a person of faith. And that’s what spurred him on when all seemed impossible in the many dark hours experienced during the civil rights struggle.
Remembering that ‘faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see’. I’m sure that MLK would’ve have prayed that verse many a time.
Carrying the right kind of passion
Was MLK passionate?
Yes, in the best sense of that word. But his passion was born out of being a person of faith, not instead of it.
And that’s the difference between a healthy passion, grounded in a life and faith outside ourselves. As opposed to an unhealthy (or empty) passion focusing just on our personal desire and fulfilment.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met some amazingly passionate people. And they lived the true meaning of the word experiencing a good deal of struggle and suffering for what they do.
And the amazing ones have, without exception, always included other people as a part of their passion. Because they were driven by something deeper than themselves.
They are businesses with a social purpose, or to be an amazing example in the marketplace. They are charities and social enterprises with a cause. Or individuals who are passionate to love and serve their community and neighbours. Even when it hurts.
Not all the passionate people I’ve met were religious. But all were living as people of faith, having ‘hope and assurance for what they do not see.’ And believing in values bigger than themselves.
So, are you passionate?
If so, would you consider being a person of faith, anchoring your hopes in a bigger purpose for good?
I believe God is asking that for us all. Because that’s really worth getting passionate about.
If you’d like to discover your unique life calling, download my free e-guide here.
Jeremy – Not Only Sundays (About Us).
© Not Only Sundays, June 2018. Images CC0 Public Domain – DNA image sourced on pixabay.com under a creative commons licence CC.