The most common question I’m asked by my friends Bob Hamp and Alan Smith is one of their favorites: “But what if it’s not?” (NOTE: They’ve both authored books I HIGHLY recommend, so click on those links).
If you’ve known me, even casually, you’ve probably realized I’m a fairly passionate guy; I tell it like I see it because I’ve typically given something a good deal of thought before I jump in with my perspective. And just like every other oxygen-sucking human, sometimes my thinking is mis-aligned with God’s thinking on a subject. Hence, the question “but what if it’s not?”, applied to any number of conversations, has confronted my assumptions and even some core beliefs over the years.
One of my most fundamental beliefs was “Follow your passion and the money will follow.” But what it it’s not true?
I used to believe the fire in my belly was, in fact, my passion. I could almost see the flames of personal pursuit of my passions licking at my heart, igniting within me a burning desire that I didn’t merely want, but actually believed!“Passionate people lead where others will not follow,” I’d declare. “Passion is the fuel of life, the very essence of willpower, distilled into a substance we can almost bottle and share with others!”
But what if it wasn’t?
Passions, I’ve learned over my lifetime thus far, actually change. What I was passionate about in my youth changed to more substantive (and realistic) matters in my young adulthood. Those, too, while still very real to me, waned and led to new fields of passion growth, further refining what beliefs, ideas, activities and tasks I enjoyed into that which I more narrowly defined as passion. Why? Because I equated passion with those things I enjoyed doing.
Any person who is passionat about something will spend inordinately more time and effort on that ‘something’ than other people. The late Steve Jobs once said:
You have to have a lot of passion for what you’re doing. And the reason is because it’s so hard, that if you don’t then any rational person would give up. It’s really hard; and you have to do it over a sustained period of time. If you don’t love it and if you’re not having fun doing it, you’re gonna give up. And that’s what happens to most people, actually. Often times, the ones that are ‘successful’ loved what they did, so they could persevere when it got really tough. And the ones that didn’t love it quit because they’re sane, right? Who would want to put up with this stuff if they didn’t love it?
Fuel for the Fire
What if passion isn’t the fire in our bellies? I mean, if it is, why would that passion change? By its own standard, a passion is something you fully believe in and enjoy and will commit yourself to. What could make passion lose itself?
Passion is not the fire in our belly; it is the fuel for the fire that is our destiny.
God knows us, and has known us, and knows the plans He has for us. He’s not surprised at what makes us passionate, or even when we create idols in our life to mis-align the passion away from our unique destiny. And we do have a destiny, though it’s not a singular act or event, but a life-plan of purpose.
“You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book.”
“Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.”
“But when He had set me apart before I was born…and had called me through His grace.”
“And the very hairs on your head are all numbered,”
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Passion and Destiny
Oh, passion is real and there’s a good deal of truth in following passion, but only if that passion is the accelerant used to fuel your destiny and to help you persevere when the going gets tough.
If you feel that fire stirring inside you, stoke the flames only when you’ve first asked God about the journey, not the destination. If you feel passion-less, it’s the perfect time to ask God to reveal part of His destiny journey for your life. Either way, there’s more than a slight chance that what you’re striving for or believing in could be asked the question, “But what if it’s not?”
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”