At church this Sunday my pastor, Todd Wagner, appropriately called out our generation at The Porch. He was fair, pointing out that the problem was not limited to Generation Y, and definitely was not caused by that generation.
The problem that was mentioned was that Generation Y has been instructed to “follow your passion.” A Harvard Business Review blog post pointed out that the phrase “follow your passion,” which hardly ever appeared in written works before 1990, has since then increased exponentially—which means it became a common refrain during the time that most of us were getting an education and making decisions about our direction in life. However, as both Todd and the blog writer pointed out, “follow your passion” is not very good advice.
Don’t Follow Your Passions?
A big problem with using “follow your passion” as a guiding light is that our passions can often lead us to bad places.
For example, following passions is often at odds with commitment. It implies that, if you are not in love with and passionate about your job, you should change careers—even though most jobs are less fun at first, and become more satisfying as you become better at them and move beyond the entry level. It is probably an even bigger problem in relationships; isn’t infidelity and divorce all about passions versus commitment?
The Bible does warn about how passion can lead us astray, and how the desires of our hearts cannot always be trusted. Jeremiah 17:9, for instance, says that “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” And nowhere does the Bible say to follow your passion; rather, it says to follow God. In the Gospels, Jesus is quoted 20 different times saying the same two words: “Follow Me.”
Fulfill Your Passions
It must be true that “follow your passion” is ingrained in our generation, though, because I still find myself rebelling against the notion that this is not good advice. Follow Jesus but don’t follow your passion; does that mean Christians don’t get to do what they want? That our jobs, or whatever we do each day, should not be enjoyable or satisfying?
That is what I wanted to clarify: following God is the only thing that truly brings satisfaction. Following God allows you to fulfill your passions.
We are each wired different ways—by design. We have deep-seated desires in our hearts—by design. God has a purpose for you, and you won’t be fully satisfied or fully successful until you are fulfilling that purpose. It is literally what you were born to do.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10
The problem is that we often try to fulfill those desires in the wrong way. We search for significance in earning and showing off wealth, or we compromise our values to experience the fleeting, feeling kind of "love". We use people to get what our passions say we should have. We may experience temporary highs for a moment, but they are followed by long-term pain and/or chronic dissatisfaction.
Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart”—the true desires of your heart. I pray that He gives you a passion for Him and that we take great joy in pursuing Him above, beyond, and in everything else.
How have you struggled or grown through pursuing your passions?