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Are Purpose and Passion the Same Thing?

Part of me feels like this episode distinguishing purpose and passion is a bit overdue. I started writing notes for this episode back in July 2021. 

I really don’t know why I didn’t record this then, but we’re here now. While part of me feels like this episode is a little overdue, another part of me believes the timing is right. I’ve gotten even more of an opportunity to see just how often purpose and passion are confused. I will hear someone talking about the thing they love to do. I would then hear them say that because they love to do it, then that must mean it is their purpose. 

It’s deeper than that.

In this episode, I’ll cover:

  • Why we often confuse purpose and passion
  • What passion really is
  • How purpose differs from passion

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purpose and passion

Why We Confuse Passion and Purpose

Before I distinguish passion and purpose, I want to talk a little about why we confuse them.

The simple answer is we get them confused because we haven’t been taught what purpose actually is from a Biblical perspective.

Because we haven’t learned what purpose is, when a counterfeit presents itself, we won’t know what’s what because we have no concrete information about the original. 

Back when I was a criminal prosecutor, I prosecuted drug trafficking crimes for a brief period. Before we can file charges against someone for trafficking drugs, we had to confirm that what they had were drugs. 

We would send the drugs to the lab for testing. The scientists at the lab had concrete information about the chemical properties of drugs. This allowed them to easily confirm or deny if the samples we provided were in fact a drug.

If we were to dive a little deeper and explore the root of our lack of knowledge about purpose, I think it would be a lack of teaching about it and Satan’s desire to keep us from it. 

Lack of Teaching

As it pertains to a lack of teaching, I realize that your experience may be different than mine. However, for me and a lot of people I know, we weren’t really taught much about purpose. Nor were we taught how to recognize our calling. We rarely heard sermons or teachings on what purpose was, how to spot it, or how to find it. 

So while we might be aware that purpose exists, we have no idea how to identify it and pursue it. 

Let’s talk about Satan’s attempts to keep us from our calling. 

Satan’s Misinformation Campaign

The devil is invested in keeping us from any and everything that furthers the plans of God. To accomplish this, he will throw every strategy he has at us. He has been around longer than we have, so not only does he know us well but he understands people and human nature. This is why misinformation and deception are some of his most effective tools. He knows that the scripture that says, “my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” is true. This is why he makes sure you don’t know the difference between purpose and passion.

Satan spreads false information to get us to act on it. By acting on misinformation we end up doing the opposite of what God called us to do. His goal is to ultimately see us destroyed, depleted, or dead.

Now that we have gotten the “why” out of the way, let’s dive into passion.

Passion

Passion as a strong liking or desire for something. That something can be an activity, an object, or a concept. Another source defines passion as a strong motivation mixed with intense emotions, and these emotions can be positive or negative.

So in essence, passion is about you, what you like, and what you want. It is personal, narrow, and pointed. Passion also tends toward self-preservation, self-gratification, and short-term gains and pleasures.

When I think about my passions the first thing that comes to my mind is reading books and traveling. Oh and if I can read books while I travel, I am in a state of bliss that I cannot even begin to describe. There is something about reading a good book and immersing myself into the culture of a country I’m visiting, that just makes me feel deeply curious, infinitely inspired, and just more alive.

But none of this has anything to do with anyone else.

I’m not serving other people. I’m not even focused on anyone else. You might be thinking about some of your passions which may involve serving others. My position remains the same. If we were to really examine the service you may be providing, the chances are high that the service is more about you than it is the people you serve. In other words, you do it because it feels good to do it. It makes you feel good inside to help others. There is nothing wrong with that. It just doesn’t automatically equate to the service being something that God called you to.

Purpose

While passion is narrowed, pointed, and personal; purpose, on the other hand, is wider, broader, and involves a longer-term vision that is focused on benefiting others. It’s something outside of yourself that ultimately is more about those you are called to serve than it is about you. 

Ephesians 2:10, NIV says that, “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” When the scripture speaks of good works, it’s referring to a divinely prescribed action that benefits others in such a way that God is glorified. This means that when we are doing the work God has called us to do in service of others, we are acknowledging God’s greatness and giving Him honor. This is purpose. 

This is what gives us meaning. Purpose is your contribution to the Kingdom of God and until we are doing the things we were created to do, I don’t ever think we will truly be fulfilled. 

So, while your purpose may be something you are passionate about, they are ultimately not the same thing. There’s a quote from Steven Covey that I love. It says, “passion is what you like to do. Talent is what you can do, but Purpose is what you’re supposed to do.”

Main Points of Divergence

Before I conclude this episode, I want to talk about two important points of divergence when it comes to purpose and passion.

Proficiency

Earlier I mentioned that reading books and traveling were some of my passions, but another passion of mine is music. I grew up with a performer for a mother. She can sing the house DOWN. During her younger years she opened for M.C. Hammer. I know there are probably going to be a few people who listen to this and wonder who in the world is MC Hammer lol. He was a popular rapper and dancer in the 80s. I have a lot of memories of my mom playing music in the house. If guests were over, she was playing music. Saturday mornings were always for cleaning, and the house would be full of music. I think my palette for good music probably started here. 

I can listen to music all day. It has a way of taking me to another place. 

I’ve even felt music altering my emotions. I’m the person in the car that likes to have control of the aux cord, because I’m also particular about song transitions. We can’t go from a fast song to a slow song too abruptly. It messes up the vibe. I know, I know, I’m a little extra when it comes to music.

But as passionate as I am about music, my mother will tell you quick, fast, and in a hurry that her youngest child cannot sing. See, I can be passionate about something that I am not proficient in. We aren’t entitled to be great at our passions.

This is very different from your purpose. By nature of God creating you to do the work of your purpose, means that you can do it. Not only can you do it, but you are anointed for it, which I’m going to dive deeper into in next week’s episode.

Impact

Pursuing your passions has no guarantee that someone else’s life will be changed for the better in any sort of way. Because at the root of our passion is our own personal desire. When you are operating in your purpose, lives will be changed. The people you are called to serve are literally waiting for you to come into their lives and provide the solution to their problem. Their ears are already tuned to the station where your work is being played.

I just want you to be able to distinguish purpose and passion because not everything you’re passionate about, is connected to your purpose.

To help you with the beginning steps of finding your path to your purpose, I created a free, super fun quiz which is titled the same as this episode, “How to Find Your Unique Path to Your Purpose. You can find it over at pavielle.com/quiz.

I know you like those Buzzfeed quizzes that tell you which Game of Thrones or Grey’s Anatomy character you are. My quiz is similar to those but my quiz gives you a lot more information about yourself that will help position you for your purpose.

In nine questions, my quiz explores your personality, your strengths, and your struggles. The quiz questions incorporate things you do in your life. If you enjoy sitcoms, music, or shopping at Target, then you will find the questions especially interesting.

Want More?

If you enjoyed this episode about the difference between purpose and passion, then you may also enjoy the episode of the show about myths about purpose or this episode detailing what purpose is.

Resources Mentioned

 

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