PASSION LEADS TO PURPOSE LEADS TO PATH
by Trevor DeVage
Not long ago as I was doing my prayer walk around the church building, the above sentence came to me. Let me share what I’ve been thinking about it since then.
Everyone is passionate about something, Or at least they once were. Or they certainly can rekindle or rediscover their passion.
How do you recognize your passion? Ask yourself, “Do I enjoy dealing with the details surrounding this activity? Am I compelled to learn about it, get better at it, seek out the experts who are pursuing this passion too? Does a taste of this activity make me hungry to do more of it?”
Sometimes a person finds his passion through trial and error. I’ve discovered I’m passionate about editing video, playing golf, and doing photography. Writing a book? I thought I wanted to do that till I gave it a try and decided I have no passion for the process book writing requires.
While I was in college, I thought I had a passion for preaching. So I went to one of the best student speakers in the country, Mike Baker, and asked if I could fulfill my internship requirement at Lincoln Christian College with him. Mike was on staff at Eastview Christian Church, Normal, Illinois (he’s the senior pastor there now). He welcomed me and he gave me six months of solid ministry experience while I was there. He let me lead. He let me preach. He helped me develop my passion, and that led me to my purpose.
I’d state my purpose in broader terms than I’d describe any of my passions. My purpose is to help people experience changed lives by seeing the love of Jesus as I find creative ways to communicate it to them. Most often I fulfill this purpose by pursuing my passion for preaching, but it also happens through photography or even on the golf course. (In the last three weeks I’ve counseled three couples who first came to church after I met them on the golf course.)
For me, the best way to pursue my passion and fulfill my purpose is through the path made available to me: preaching Bible truth. Right now, and I hope for a long time, my purpose is expressed through my current path in a leadership role at Christ’s Church. I want to help the church discover what it needs to look like in a post-Covid world. I never would have landed on this path, though, if I had not explored my passion and refined my purpose.
But I realize these three points are better represented in a circle than in a straight line.
For example, whatever path you’re traveling right now can help you evaluate your passions and your purpose. Is my career path allowing me to express my passions, or am I most passionate about what I’m free to do on weekends or evenings? If so, is there a way to make my passions and path better align?
Likewise, if my current path distracts me from my purpose, or worse, forces me to compromise my purpose, maybe I should be praying for God to help me find a different way.
Compared to passion and path, purpose is more central and less subject to change as a Christian grows older. You might state your purpose as “living to glorify God” or “helping others see Jesus” or “growing more Christlike every day.” Start there, and you can look at your passions to decide how your specific temperament and talents can allow you best to live out your purpose. Or look the other direction, toward path, and you might decide your job, or some hobby, or a difficult family member is getting in the way of your living out your purpose as you’d like. Maybe your path should take a different route.
Passion. Purpose. Path. In a healthy person, each element is vital, all three are related, and coming to terms with any one of them can help us understand the other two. Which of these three needs most consideration in your life?
People regularly ask me, “How can I know what God wants me to do?” These three can help you find the answer. And as you’re seeking, I’d suggest you add a fourth “P”: Prayer. Follow the formula I suggested last week: reflect, repent, and then respond. Your life will be more satisfying and your relationship to God will be stronger because of it.