Passion vs Purpose

Purpose and passion.  Can one exist without the other?  Which one matters most? What if they don’t seem to match up, does that mean I’m not in God’s will?

I teach middle school choir and anyone that has ever dealt with pre-teens and early teens knows that convincing that age group can be tricky.  It is hard to find songs for middle schoolers that are both age-appropriate and something they would like to sing.   I usually spend my summer breaks contemplating concert themes and songs for the upcoming school year.  

A few summers ago, I couldn’t decide on a theme for the Fall Concert.  After listening to what had to have been hundreds of songs, I came across a song called “Oo, Barbecue” by Kirby Shaw.  It was a hideous and annoying song about different forms of barbecue, and after listening to it about 5 times back to back, I decided that I LOVED it!  It was fun, it was free-spirited, and it was original!  I decided that it was so perfect for my middle school Show Choir, that I based the ENTIRE concert around that song!  The Fall Concert theme was FOOD!

The passion I developed for the song drove the purpose of the concert. I gave the concert a fancy title, “If Music Be the Food of Love – SING ON!”, and in August, I went all-in with the idea of the theme!  Every song was about food and it was one of the best concerts I have had the privilege of directing!  To this day, my daughter sings the barbecue song every time my husband grills!  It is our theme song, and I’m sure there are at least 50-100 other teenagers out there now that think of that hideous and loveable song every 4th of July or Labor Day!

I had a passion for the song, but I also needed purpose when it was time to sell it to my students!  Of course, not every student bought it, but they all rose to the occasion and sang the “Oo, Barbecue” like it was their favorite.  Passion can be contagious but purpose drives passion where it needs to go. 

Your enthusiasm for a subject will have the same effect on others (they will also become enthused) when you understand the purpose of your passion.  The words passion and purpose are loosely used and often interchanged in conversations today.  It can be confusing to understand the difference. 

Our passion is a gift from God.  No one can give it to you.  You must discover it for yourself.  Sometimes we accidentally discover things that we are passionate about. There are other times that we are forced to do something that we thought we would be uncomfortable with, only to discover that we enjoyed doing it.  That is how I felt about teaching.  When I was a vocal performance major in college, teaching was the furthest from my mind.  Thankfully, I needed a job after graduation and my first teaching job helped me to discover a passion I never knew existed.

Passion cannot be given or borrowed from anyone else.  It is already in you; however, you can develop it or catch it from someone else.  Others can prompt your passion.  It is not a matter of copying someone else, but rather taking inspiration. 

Our purpose serves God and must be defined.  It should also give clarity to our passion.  If singing is your passion, then your purpose should answer the question of why you sing.  Purpose can also be shared and labored with others.  Joining with others that have the same purpose as you can be a rewarding alliance that can add to the flames of your passion. 

Passion and purpose are connected like strength and muscle.  If one is weak, the other is stagnant.  Our passions are our power sources. They give energy to our purpose.  But our purpose gives that energy arms and legs to get from point A to point B.    

Proverbs 16:9 says:

“In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (NIV)

This text reflects on both passion and purpose.  That is why it is so important to understand that our life’s goal should be to glorify God with our purpose and honor the passion He has placed in our hearts. 

Remember:

PASSIONPURPOSE
A gift from GodServes God
Must be discoveredMust be defined
Can not be borrowed from someone else but can inspire othersCan be shared and labored with others
Gives power/energy to your purposeGives arms and legs to your passion

Little POW-wow, (Pearls of Wisdom)

  • Have you ever gotten your passion confused with your purpose? Take a moment to write down your passion(s) according to the chart above. 
  • Right next to your passion, write down your purpose(s).  Are they the legs and arms of your passion? How can you get them to be the legs and arms of your passion?
  • What is it that you love to do or that you firmly believe in so much so that you also feel you could sell it to others no matter how odd it is?  What makes you giggle?  Can you put arms and legs to that giggle!? What would that look like?

TUNE MY HEART…

There were many songs about purpose to chose from when I thought about this post.  But none of them conveyed what my heart wanted to share with you like William McDowell’s “I Give Myself Away”.  No matter what we choose to pursue with passion and purpose, let God use you.  Trust Him with your dreams and goals and your life.

I also wanted to share Kirby Shaw’s, “Oo, Barbecue”.  Listen to it, and I am certain that you will be humming it next time you fire up the grill!  Enjoy!

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