The Apostle Paul that ‘whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,’ (Col 3:23) The immediate context is referring to the work that each Christian does. In short, we are never just working for ourselves or for an employer but for God. God needs to be involved in our work and our work needs to be involved in God’s. Most Christians don’t do religious work – they shouldn’t! – because God calls most of His people to be out in the world. The challenge is sometimes to understand how we can serve God through our work. Tim Keller lists eight ways that Christians can serve God through their work and each week I take a look at one. This is week is the seventh, which is:
#7 The way to serve God at work is to do whatever gives you the greatest joy and passion.
The idea here is that there is something that can inspire and excite us and so that is what we should be doing. There is the cliched question asking if you won millions of dollars what would you do with your life? The answer is supposed to be what you should do with your life.
God is introduced into the mix because it is when we do what we are passionate about we are living out the way God intended us to be. I actually like this idea. I am blessed to be able to do what I love, and many others are as well. It is certainly true that God makes each of us for a purpose. He gives us the desires of our hearts. He will give us work that He has made us for. To follow our passions to serve God is totally valid* but it does need to have a couple of caveats.
Not All Our Passions Are Good. While passion can be good, we are warned many times in Scripture that not all passion is good. Some (if not all) of desire in our hearts is sinfully misguided. Some passions need to be run away from. Our passions can be help lead us but they shouldn’t rule us. I mean, what would you say to someone who is passionate about playing Playstation? Hopefully a gentle version of ‘Get A Job!’
All Things Must Be Balanced. One of the great things about Keller’s Every Good Endeavour ( the basis for this series) is how he balances many motivations to serve God through work. Not one of them needs to stand on its own. Passion, likewise, can be balanced by other aspects like, for example, responsibility. We don’t need to live passion-less lives but we need to find balance. This way to serve God can seem far away from some. Many don’t like their jobs. There may have to be other reasons to stick with it or keep searching for something else. Following your passion isn’t the only way to find God’s purpose in work.
Passion Can Be Wonderful. It is wonderful to talk with someone who works at what they believe they put on the earth to do. Having passion for your work can help you make sacrifices – like working for less money. Being passionate about your work doesn’t mean that everything will be free of frustrations. In fact its often the opposite. But to work at what God has made you passionate about can be a great gift. It is not self-serving to follow this kind of passion because it honours God the Passion-Giver.
* If you’ve not read John Piper’s Classic Desiring God yet, stop what you are doing, get the book, and devour it. In it, he shows how seeking our own greatest happiness is not anti-thetical to serving God but in fact essential for it. If you’re a member of my church, The King’s Fellowship, I have a free copy waiting for you in my office.