What Am I Passionate About?
NETWORK 2 : Psalm 37

I want to begin tonight by sharing my testimony. For much of our married life I was blissfully unaware of dark secrets in our home. On two occasions the Bishop visited us at home to find me hoovering the carpet. In those days Stoke Church was reputed to have more carpet than any other church in the Diocese and the Bishop remarked that perhaps this was why I had appointed – to clean the church carpets. But I was not a happy bunny. I became increasingly dissatisfied with our vacuum cleaner and sought counselling. I tried replacing the bags and dismantling the mechanism to see if it was blocked.  But it was not until the day we bought a Dyson that I found fulfillment in this area of my ministry. That morning I had hoovered the floor as usual, given up for the last time, went to the superstore and invested in a Dyson. I brought it home and hoovered the same room once more. To my shame had to empty the machine three times… I became a new man.

I would show it off when ever visitors came to the house. I would explain the power of its dual action cyclone. How the air inside reaches a speed of 924 miles and hour creating powerful G forces that spin out the dust into a solid mass. Whereas a traditional vacuum even with a new bag loses 50% of its suction after one room, a Dyson maintains 100% suction 100% of the time. Charles Dyson perfected his revolutionary machine after producing over 5000 prototypes. Here it is. So impressed with the power of a Dyson, we bought a newer more powerful machine late last year and donated our first Dyson to the Church. I am looking forward to the newest Dyson which is an robotic version guided by remote sensors around the room.  How many of you have a Dyson? I don’t own any shares in the company but I will gladly give a demonstration to any of you who are skeptical. I cannot imagine why anyone would not want to own a Dyson…

 These Sundays through to Easter we are considering finding our place in the Body of Christ through the Network Course. Last week we considered an overview of the series. Today we come to the question of passion. What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about several things, including my Dyson… Or put another way, What do you care about most? Where would you like to see your life make a difference? Sometimes we think of our passion in terms of a burden we carry, a call we've received, a dream we have, or a vision we've glimpsed. Whatever you call it, passion is the God-given desire of the heart to make a difference somewhere. If we all cared about the same things, many of the needs in our world would go unmet. In today’s papers there is an article about the changing magnetic north pole. God has put a divine magnet within each of us that is intended to attract us to the people, func­tions, or causes where he intends us to minister. We don’t all have the same magnet.

This is not an afterthought on God's part. Our passion is built in to us so that we will conform ourselves to his purpose for our lives. This is none clearer than in our reading from Psalm 37:3-6.

”Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

 So there is a relationship between our trusting and delighting in God and the fulfillment of our heart's desire. In order for this rela­tionship to blossom, however, we must understand the purpose the Lord designed for us-a major piece of which is found within our own heart's desire. Yours is

 A heart he uniquely created
 A heart with which he intended to lead you
 A heart meant to draw you to the focus of your ministry
 A heart overflowing with emotional energy-your passion

Think about it – Alexander Fleming is remembered for… penicillin. Thomas Edison is remembered for… the light bulb. Henry Ford is remembered for the… car.
For what will you be remembered? Granted, most of us will never be as well known as these people, but fame or huge accomplishment isn't our issue. I'm asking you to consider the matter of personal significance. What do you find most meaningful? Would it be "the family," like James Dobson? Or reaching lost people, like Billy Graham? Or perhaps being merciful, like Mother Teresa? Although your passion may not seem especially signifi­cant to someone else, it does to God and when channeled in his service it can be powerful.

Let me illustrate this.  Pete and Frank are sideman. Frank gets to the church by
9:15 every Sunday morning (worship services begin at 10:30). He locates his ‘here to serve’ tag and hangs it round his neck. He checks with the service leader to see if the news sheets need any inserts. He quickly puts out the spare seats and makes sure every one has a bible, songs book and service book. It is about 10:15 when Frank makes his way to the corridor. His excitement builds as he sees cars pulling into the car park and people making their way to the build­ing. With a warm smile and sincere greeting, Frank makes sure everyone finds just what they need. 

hen there's Pete. It is
10:20. by the time he gets to church. He decides to stand at the door . There he hands a news sheet to those entering while repeating his mono­logue with a blank expression and monotone voice saying, "Good morning... Enjoy the service ... Good to see you this morning ... Good morning ..." When the music begins, Pete is relieved to turn his attention toward the service. Pete and Frank are both sidesman. Frank finds it to be a mean­ingful expression of who he is, but Pete does not. Frank sees the role of sidesman as a way he can communicate to others that they are important to God, to the church, and to him personally. He has a passion to create a friendly, warm, and non-distracting environment for people to hear and experience the love and grace of God. Pete, however, does not see ushering as a particularly good use of his time. He feels anyone can do it. In fact, he sometimes wonders why the church doesn't just set the news sheets on the table so people can pick them up as they come in. He also secretly wishes somebody would install a recorded message on a sound system in the entrance to automatically greet people as they open the door. Pete and Frank are examples of two people doing the same task with totally different motivations. Why? One sees ushering as a need in the church that he enjoys meeting. The other sees it as nothing more than an obligation. Is Frank a better person than Pete? Is he more spiritual? Or are they just different?

Making a Passionate Difference
The difference we're talking about is passion. Do you know what your passion is? If you do not, you are more than likely ful­filling the passions of others. And that is never as satisfying as investing your own God-given passion. Do those around you express concerns that they find worthy of their time, energy, and resources? Do they communicate these things in such a way that it seems as if something must be wrong with you because you do not feel the same way? The way to respond to other people's concerns is to applaud their passion and pursue your own.  Now we're at the crucial point.

What is
your passion? If it were entirely down to you, how would you like to invest your time, energy, and resources so that at the end of your life you will have a deep sense of fulfillment? How will your life make a contribution to the cause of Christ in the lives of those around you?

Perhaps, at the moment, you're not sure. But as you
delight yourself in the Lord, you will find the insight you're seek­ing within the desires of your heart. Identifying your God-given passion is not an exact science; it is more of a process. Let's first define passion and consider several categories. Then, we will look at seven different ways you might come to realize and identify your passion. Finally, we will explore some reasons why your passion may be hard to identify. Isn't it time you got in touch with this important aspect of yourself

Definition and Categories of Passion
We have identified passion as the God-given desire that com­pels us to make a difference in a particular area of ministry or life where God is glorified and people are edified. The various passions we find among different people don't have anything to do with who is right or wrong. Passion is not about being good or bad. If our passion is God-given, it is an issue of obedience.

Will you be faithful to the passion God has placed
in your heart? There is a danger in putting things into categories, because categories often narrow the possibilities. There is a risk in defin­ing your passion because words are more limiting than are non­verbal expressions. Our hope with the following categories is that the desires of your heart can be identified so you'll better under­stand your-passion for service.

Passions About People

Passions about people include people groups like children, youth, or senior citizens. People groups can involve those who are grieving, newly married, or blind. You might have a passion for the mothers of preschoolers, for immigrants, or for the unem­ployed. If you have a people-passion, you long to be identified as one who makes a difference in certain people's lives.

Passions About Roles or Functions
Passions about roles or functions might include things like discipling, being an entrepreneur, or consulting. If you're one of these people, you'll find it most fulfilling to serve in a particular role. It could be in terms of a passion to learn, solve problems, or develop systems.

Passions for a Cause
People who are cause-driven believe that their cause is the significant issue in life that needs to be addressed if God is to be truly glorified and the cause of Christ advanced. Some have a passion for addressing the problems of world hunger, fighting for human rights, the environment, financial stewardship, or reaching the spiritually lost. If you have a cause ­passion, you will enthusiastically attempt to make others aware of the issue and attract as many as you can to become supporters. With cause-oriented passion, you may continuously feel a level of frustration with the fact that more people are not as passionately committed to the cause as you are. They may be sympathetic, occa­sionally involved, and even give financially, but the bottom line is that they just do not care about it as much as you do. Again, we can't all do everything. Ask yourself: Am I doing anything about my heart's desire? Am I fulfiling my passion and finding fulfilment?

Passion Indicators
There are seven passion indicators that may be helpful in the identification of your passion.

1. Imagine that you and I are meeting for the first time. In the course of our conversation, we talk about a variety of topics. Then we turn to a new subject. As you are talking to me about it, you start speaking a little faster. You lean forward. You become increas­ingly animated. Your voice goes up a little. Your passion may be indi­cated by more active body language. You are talking about a subject that could keep you up late at night. It's the topic that would cause you to jump out of bed in the morning. What are we talking about?

2. Sometimes our dreaming or reflection allows us to imagi­natively explore the desire of our heart. In these times, we may visualize or find ourselves being drawn as if by a current toward something that heightens our feelings and enlarges our capacity for action. The image that we see will hit an emotional chord. When you are alone, do you ever wonder, "What if ...?" Does your response to that question create emotional energy? What is it?

3. Make a list of your greatest achievements, but be sure that they are things you enjoyed doing. These achievements may be accomplishments that others do not find particularly impressive, but are were important to you. (Conversely, you may have achieved Student of the Year, but to you it was not that big of a deal, or you did not enjoy the process of earning it.) Perhaps when you were twelve, you and a friend decided to put on a neighborhood carnival. You organized the booths, got people to run them, had prizes, made and sold tickets, and actu­ally made a little profit. You pulled it off and had a great time doing it. It was an enjoyable achievement. Are there similarities in your list of enjoyable achievements? What themes can you see?

4. What kinds of things are you doing? What topics are you involved in, in which you lose track of time? When you are mov­ing in the direction of your passion, time can easily slip away. Our passion can make us less aware of what is going on around us because we become so focused on what we care about most. What might that be?

5. People who are fulfilling their passion are making a pur­poseful difference. (However, even though you are making a difference, it doesn't necessarily mean you are serving in the area of your passion.) Those who are expressing their heart's desire will find greater energy and focus as they positively impact those around them.
Of course, the process of fulfilling your passion will not always be easy or fun. But in the midst of moving toward your passion, there is an inner confidence that you are doing what God wants you to do in the way he wants you to do it. There is an assurance that you are where he wants you, and that he is using you according to his divine purposes. Whether subtlety or overtly, you are making a difference. Where is that happening? In what area would you like to see it happen?

6. Your passion will energize you. Not only will you become more alive emotionally, but the activity or thoughts about your passion will actually give you energy. This is God's way of mov­ing you toward those people, roles, or causes that are his created agenda for your life. His will for you is partly revealed in your God-given passion. What energizes you?

7. Whatever your passion is, it needs to be submitted to a twofold test: Does it glorify God? Does it edify others? If your pas­sion and its expression do not meet this test, you have not iden­tified your God-given passion.

You may have expressed a desire of your heart, but it is not from God. He cannot violate his own integrity and purposes. That is why we are shown the condition on which God will give us the desires of our heart, "Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:3-4).

Jesus was communicating the same principle in the New Tes­tament when he said, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you" (John 15:7 NASB). Many people ask God for things, but they are not abid­ing in Jesus. When we abide, we can confidently ask, knowing that he will be pleased to respond to our requests because they will reflect his purposes. His heart's desire for us becomes our heart's desire.

Does your passion
glorify God and edify others? When you are abiding and delighting yourself in him, what desires do you have? Reviewing your responses from above, how might you sum­marize your passion in a word or phrase? I have a passion for (to)………

The ‘Where’ Question
As you identify and pursue your God-given passion, you will become more aware of the answer to the question we have been asking, "Where should I serve?" Naming your passion answers the where question.

If you have a passion for children, where should you be serving? In a ministry that is committed to impacting the lives of children.

If your passion is for discipleship, where should you be serving? In a ministry committed to discipling people.

If your passion is for world hunger, where should you be serving? In a ministry or organization committed to feeding the poor.

My passion is __________ so where should I be serving? In a ministry committed to________________           

Don't worry at this time how you can fulfill your passion. Don't let the fact that your church may not have such a ministry keep you from identifying your passion. For now, we just want you to name it. God has indicated where he wants you to serve-it has been written on your heart. But knowing where to serve is different from knowing what to do.

Your passion may reveal the direction or focus of your ministry, but how do you know what to do within that area of ministry? Fortunately, God has spoken to us about that too and that is our subject next week. Lets pray.

Lord, Thank you for placing your desires in my heart. Sometimes I have trouble focusing on the things that matter most to me. Sometimes I'm confused by the people around me, and I mistake their passion for mine. Sometimes I long to fulfill my passion, but I don't know where you want me to do it. Please be close to me now. Help me to stop and be quiet. Help me to listen to my own heart. Help me to listen to your still small voice, and to obey. In Jesus' name, Amen.

This sermon draws heavily on Bruce Bugbee’s “What you do best in the Body of Christ” published by Zondervan, and the NETWORK Leaders Guide by Bugbee, Cousins and Hybels also published by Zondervan.