I have been asked to briefly reflect on the question, “How does God call us to use our passions”? The first thought that pops into my head, when I hear the question, is that we should not let our passions “run away with our lives”. Though I have no idea where that idea comes from in my early childhood it feels like persons in my life were worried that I might let emotions run away with my brain!
We are, however, creatures of a creator God who is passionate. God so loved the world that the Almighty not only created this life and world, but recognizing its self-centeredness came among us in the person of Jesus to also save us from ourselves and our penchant for turning away from the God who created us. Created in the image of such a God, it seems only natural then that each of us humans has passions that are an important component of our lives.
But upon deeper reflection, one might query, what is the definition of passion? There are a dozen definitions offered in the dictionary I pulled off my study shelf. Several of the definitions focus on the passion, the sufferings and death of God’s Son, Jesus on the cross. Another definition defines passion as “strong and extravagant fondness, enthusiasm or desire for elements of this human existence”. So what is it that you feel strongly about? What enthuses or motivates you? What is that you love doing? Each of us has answers to these questions. Perhaps those passions we might identify are not unique to us alone, but the ones we pinpoint are ours and God, in the Almighty’s good wisdom, gave them to us to use for ourselves and to share with the world.
Personally one of things I have always enjoyed is mathematics. I have always thought I have a gift for math. I like adding and subtracting. I love the challenge of figuring out a mathematical problem. I pay the bills in our household. I balance the checkbook monthly. We have one checking account, but within that one account I have sub-accounts for house repairs, benevolent giving, vacations, and special large purchases. I look forward to those moments when I am ‘crunching numbers’.
But numbers are not people. You see I am also an extravert who loves being with and engaging people. Certainly numbers may play a role in the development of relationships, but of far greater significance are words. My spouse will tell you that one of my natural gifts is not writing. But I have a passion for the use of words! They introduce us to one another. It is with words that we develop relationships and then grow them. Words are the way we engage one another and this world in which we live. Words can hurt, destroy, and demean; but they are far more powerful tools when they encourage and inspire persons to be who they are and perhaps become something more than they believe themselves to be.
It is in the ministry of pastor, then, that my passion for being with people and my passion for using words and personal example to inspire all shapes and sizes of people is expressed. It is through pastoral ministry that I encourage them to make the most of the opportunity we have to use our gifts and to live our passions today.
In part, our passions are who we are; and God created us as such. The Almighty did not create within us the ability to be “strong and extravagantly fond or enthusiastic or desirous for elements of this human existence” only to have that passion be suppressed within us. No I believe our passions are gifts of God for the people of God … to be shared by us with other people … in the world … out there … everyday.
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