PASSION: The fight for a life of impact.

“People are instructed by reason, but they are inspired by passion.” 
– Jeanne Mayo

How many of us would consider ourselves to be passionate women? Maybe you’d ask yourself that question and nod your head, thinking something like, “Yeah, I’m a pretty fiery woman who has a mission and I’m living that out.” Or maybe you read that question and thought to yourself something like, “I’m not really passionate. I’m more reserved.”

Our culture has this funny way of making passion about personality, because our emotions are often expressed through the filter of how we’re ‘wired.’ If you’re extroverted and outgoing, you’re seen as intense, bold, and and passionate, but if you are more soft-spoken and introverted, you’re assumed to lack interest. I want to tell you today, woman of God – your passion does not come from and is not defined by your personality or the way that you were wired. It is a gift from the One who created you.
Galatians 5:12 encourages us that those of us who follow Jesus have, “put to death our earthly desires and the passions and desires that plague us.” So we lay aside our earthly passions, but what remains? When we are living lives sold out to the cause of Christ, we’re left with a passion that is from Him and for Him.

The past year has been a tiring and exhausting journey. We’ve lived through a global pandemic which brought about so much change, fear, and unknown for each and every one of us. We’ve had to navigate political and racial tensions in a way that, because of the pandemic, felt all-consuming for many of us. We’ve shut down our businesses, our schools, and our churches across many parts of our nation and our world. I feel exhausted just writing this and thinking over the events of the last year. And that’s not even all of it; for many of us, we also had turmoil or hardship in our personal lives. The national and global disasters of the last year did not put a hold on personal challenges, marital strain, or economic uncertainty. The pandemic didn’t push pause for our daily stresses or annoyances. In fact, for many of us, our “regular problems,” were actually made worse by the undercurrent of anxiety caused by the pandemic. So how in the world are we supposed to maintain any level of passion throughout all of this? When we’re barely keeping our lives, our families, and our communities balanced, how do we attempt to go above just surviving to try and have passion? Even now, as we start to see hope for a future with more security and possibility, what do we do about restoring our passion? Romans 12:11 tells us to, “be enthusiastic to serve the Lord, keeping your passion toward him boiling hot!” (TPT) But what does that look like?

First, I believe that we must recognize the extremes that we may be tempted to fall into. Our culture loves the idea of passion, but it’s almost exclusively reserved for the wrong things. Passion for money. Fame. Sex. Success. Busyness. We are even encouraged to have passion for things that can be good, but in excess, these things become idols or a place for gluttony to run rampant. For example, what about passion for Netflix, passion for your favorite sports team, or passion for your career? We are tempted to have passion for these wrong things. On the other hand, we can lean into the other extreme – a passion for nothing. Laziness and apathy are byproducts of the burnout caused by the pandemic, and because of them, we feel the need to disengage mentally and emotionally in order to push through and get done what needs to be done. We develop a passion for nothing, because we feel spent just trying to get through the day. If you fall into one of these extremes, that’s okay! Can you identify it and name what it is that has caused you to fall into this category? 

Also, we have to acknowledge that passion and motivation are not the same thing. Motivation is an outward response to an external pressure while passion is an inward movement of the Holy Spirit working within you. When we are motivated by a deadline, an encouraging word from a friend, or a challenge from our boss, that isn’t in and of itself a wrong thing. But is in line with the passion we have from being led by the Holy Spirit?
Romans 8:5 says that, “Those who are motivated by the flesh only pursue what benefits themselves. But those who live by the impulses of the Holy Spirit are motivated to pursue spiritual realities.” In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus teaches us to pray for the Kingdom of God to come to earth as it is in Heaven, which to me sounds a lot like the pursuit of spiritual realities here on earth, right?
The Holy Spirit will only lead you to pursue that which honors Christ (John 16:13-14), and while it may be in line with what motivates you, discovering and examining these differences in your life can make all the difference. I know it has in mine.

Finally, we should remember that the pursuit of passion begins with purity. In scripture, you’ll find that many examples of “passion” refer to sinful, lustful, earthly desires. However, a passion for the things that God has for you begins with a pure heart to seek God and submit our lives to Him. If we want to see God and have clarity on the things that we should be moving towards, we must have a pure heart. (Matt. 5:8) Pray! Ask God, “What is worthy of my deep devotion and dedicated emotion?” After all, who knows what you’re created to do more than your Creator? 

If you did a quick Google search for the definition of passion, you’d find the following: strong and barely controllable emotion, an intense desire or enthusiasm for something. 

In Matthew 22, Jesus tells His disciples to love God with all of their heart, mind, soul, and strength. The Passion Translation puts it this way: “Love the Lord your God with every passion of your heart, with all the energy of your being, and with every thought that is within you.”

If we love God in this way, wouldn’t that look like an intense desire and emotion? Wouldn’t loving God with all the energy of our beings be barely controllable? Wouldn’t loving the Lord with every thought that is within our minds create enthusiasm for Him? And for the things He’s called us to? 
Sister, I want to encourage you of this: you were created to live a passionate life that is vibrant, vital, and life-changing for those around you. Aligning your passion with anything other than the purpose of God on your life is wasted, but when you seek Him, root yourself faithfully in your identity as a beloved daughter, and begin to live from that place, He will give you passion like you’ve never known. And if you’re feeling burned out, tired, and lacking passion, God sees you. He’s with you in this season, and He has an invitation for you – Come to Him. Get away with Him and you’ll recover your life. (Matt. 11:28-30) And with that, your passion.

Passion Workbook from Propel Women – a small group curriculum or individual study

Becca Easterling is an Enneagram type 8, an extrovert to the extreme, and loves musical theatre.

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