One of the most popular forms of career advice that this generation has heard is “follow your passion.”
To most people it means doing what you love. It is an invitation to the freedom of work that you enjoy versus the drudgery of meaningless work that is boring and repeated.
The promise of “following your passion” is true happiness and fulfillment in life compared to the long, hard years of manual labor.
“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,” my grandfather used to say. He was a golf pro and became a rules official in the PGA. He certainly did what he loved and people loved what he did.
“Follow your passion” and “do what you love” can both be great pieces of advice, but with a catch.
Sometimes, in fact often, our passion leads us down the wrong road. Love is misinterpreted as pleasure.
How can you tell?
Sometimes, following our passion can cut us off from others. We sacrifice others for the benefit of our life’s passion.
Family are distanced. Children are neglected. Husbands and wives feel put off and overlooked.
Then comes the resentment. That pursuit of passion, when it isn’t fulfilled, turns us against the here and now. We resent our jobs. We resent our employers and co-workers. We start to get a sense of superiority that is unwarranted and false. We resent the government, the economy, and anything else we can blame for our failures to make “passion” a reality.
Is that doing what we love? Love is always a form of self-giving, never a feeling of self-gratification.
Christians have another use of the word passion. Made popular by Mel Gibson’s movie of the same name, the Passion of Christ is the suffering that Jesus went through on the way to his death on the cross.
Passion, in terms of the Passion of Christ, is self-sacrifice for others. It isn’t fun or enjoyable. It is gut-wrenchingly hard. It’s suffering with a purpose. It’s suffering for others.
Meditating upon the mysteries of Christ’s passion and death give a whole knew perspective to “follow your passion.” If we follow our passion as Christ experienced his passion, our life and work become a form of suffering for others. In this sense there is no self-aggrandized pursuit of a lonely dream. It is a service to others, a form of self-giving
Looking toward the future and analyzing what we might think is our true passion in life, consider this:
Do I feel passionate because I get enjoyment or because I feel a strong desire to help someone in need?
Following your passion must mean sacrificing yourself for the sake of others, not sacrificing others for the sake of your passion.