What’s more important: your passion, or God’s?


“You’ve got to find what you love. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”  ~ Steve Jobs.

Passion has become a crucial component for people of this generation to feel that their lives are reflecting their greatest potential. Any pursuit – whether a weekend away, or an ongoing full-time role within one’s career – must integrate passion into the motivational mix to be validated as reasonable. 

Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robbins: all modern sages concur on this universal conclusion: if you aren’t loving it, you shouldn’t be doing it. If passion isn’t present, nor should you be.

In The Master’s Program, we use a Venn Diagram to discover your Calling: it’s found at the convergence of Purpose, Passion and Potential. Those need some clarification to be credible: it’s not just Purpose, it’s God’s Kingdom Purpose. It’s not just Passion, it’s God-Honoring Passion. And it’s not just Potential: it’s your God-Designed Potential. The answers to all of those crucial components are sourced in God, not in our own creativity. 

We’ve been looking into the unique call of God in an otherwise forgotten life from 2800 years ago. Jonah was a man pulled into history by a mission presented to him by God Himself. He was elevated to the status of Prophet – even more powerful than the kings alongside whom they served – during the pre-Jesus days of God’s ongoing account of human history.

Jonah was called to go to Nineveh – the home of Israel’s archenemies at that time – and deliver God’s warning to them about the course they were on. Jonah went; he warned… and the people of Nineveh (120,000 of them) responded in repentance in hopes of winning a pardon from destruction.

Jonah must have been deeply moved by seeing God work through him, right? “But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, ‘Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.’” (Jonah 4:1-3).

Here’s an unmistakable observation from Jonah’s story: he had no love for Ninevites. As far as he was concerned, they deserved what was coming to them. To warn them of impending judgement was to run the risk that they might call on God and receive His forgiveness rather than His wrath.

It was time for another discussion between God and Jonah: “But the Lord replied, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?’” (4:4). That’s a question demanding a reasonable answer, but Jonah had none.

Unbelievable next scene: Jonah finds a spot outside the walls of the city and settles in to see if calamity might come to them, despite their repentance. He builds a temporary shelter to block the sun; God sprouts a vine that grows up on the lattice to provide shade, which made Jonah very happy.

The next day, God reset the situation. Insects ate the plant, eliminating the shade. A hot wind blew in and cooked Jonah as he watched. Unlike his underwater wisdom – back in the fish – he now adopts a different tone: “He wanted to die, and said, ‘It would be better for me to die than to live.’ But God said to Jonah, ‘Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?’ ‘It is,’ he said. ‘And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.’” (4:8-9).

Jonah would have found himself in synch with some of today’s philosophers: more concerned regarding the plants and environment than for the people whose ignorance and indifference toward God has them on a collision-course with eternal judgment.

The truth from Jonah’s story continues to resonate today: if you’re hoping for God to reveal His calling in your life, get ready. Your mission will always be found within His: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). Your mission is found within His; you can pursue your purposes instead of His and miss the Big Picture of His Great Commission.

Jonah was the guy who succeeded in God’s mission but never enjoyed what should have been the greatest self-fulfillment imaginable. Just think: one man on-mission for a few months was used by God to save 120,000 people from utter destruction. And he missed the chance to enjoy the ultimate measure of a life well-lived: “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:8).  

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah.” It’s come to you as well; how are you doing in your response?

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5 thoughts on “What’s more important: your passion, or God’s?”

  1. And I thought I knew that account of Jonah! Very thought provoking with fresh meaningful insights. Thank you for passing this along Bob. So glad you are back!

  2. Great clarification/reset to that popular perspective on “find your passion.” The wisdom that we were made for something bigger than our own agenda and we find true fulfillment not in fulfilling our own dreams but in letting God align ours to His…

    “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:39‬ ‭NLT‬‬.


  3. Still love your insightful and provocative and always truthful teaching. You always hit the mark and challenge me Bob. love how you both center and stretch me. Welcome back!! Mark DuVal

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