Finding your passion – what if that’s the wrong starting place?

My generation grew up with the VCR. We were able to watch the same Disney movies over and over and over again. We saw the fairytales and the happily ever after. I’m not a psychologist, but I sometimes wonder if that was imprinted in our psyche as if we have a soul mate, one specific person who we’re supposed to find.

But we don’t. It’s unrealistic to think that there’s one person who’s just going to totally complete and fulfill you. It’s a blessing to find someone. But they’re not God.

I hear people talk about “the one.”

I think many millennials do the same thing with their occupations. I hear people say things like “I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do,” or they talk as if there’s some mystical job that would be totally perfect and fulfilling for them…if. they. could. just. find. it.

And that they can’t truly be fulfilled, and happy, and living with meaning until they do.

I read a fantastic piece on the Gospel Coalition yesterday from Missy Wallace and she also notices this trend as people try to “find their passion.”

There can be dangers to this.

Even great jobs have elements that aren’t enjoyable. Even if we get paid to do something we enjoy, sometimes it changes the dynamic when we’re doing something because we have to and not because we enjoy it.

It’s still work. Quoting from Wallace’s Gospel Coalition piece:

Scripture reveals that even though God created us to take dominion and create productive flourishing, all work includes toil, regardless of its alignment with our interest and giftings. In secular verbiage, “work” is called “work” because it is “work.” The only people I’ve ever met who claim they “never worked a day in their lives” are ones reflecting back on their careers—and perhaps forgetting the difficulties the way a mother forgets the pain of labor. But those in the trenches, no matter how “called” they feel or how much they adore their work, almost always admit to its challenges and brokenness.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t want to find things they enjoy and are passionate about. I feel blessed to be able to do something I love. As a pastor, I get to meet with people and be there during some of the most important moments in their lives, I also get to spend a lot of time studying and reflecting on the Bible and theology.

I love it. Most of the time.

I an be easy to glamorize what others do. Even people who have glamorous jobs have to work like crazy to maintain what they’ve built. Even star athletes have to spend hours and hours destroying themselves in practice and training. To be good at anything takes a lot of time, effort, and energy.

But another important point of the equation is that you can grow to love a job. And that’s another concern that I have. If we get too caught up trying to find something that we absolutely love, I think we can be too quick to write off things that we liked and could have loved. Angela Duckworth talks about this in her book “Grit.”

Duckworth argues that our passions are developed more than they’re discovered.

I think we largely get that backwards.

As we work in a job or industry and grow in knowledge and have greater understanding and proficiency and more appreciation for the nuances and variety, we can grow to enjoy a job more and more.

For Christians, our meaning does not come from our job, it comes from our God. We can serve him in whatever profession where we are working. We are called to do everything for his glory. We can glorify God in how we relate with coworkers and customers. And we glorify God by virtue of working hard. Work is something that man was created to do and it is good to work hard.

We are also called upon to provide for ourselves and for our families.

If you’re doing those things but it’s a job that doesn’t bring you overwhelming excitement and joy by itself, have you somehow failed?

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear what you think, and don’t forget to subscribe! 

Josh Benner is the associate pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in Minnesota.

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