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Getting Passion Right!

“Passion” is one of the words of the moment.

We cheer athletes for having it and criticized them for not. We expect politicians, artists and business people to have it. It has become the one necessary qualification for success. If you have passion it covers all sins. And if you don’t, it doesn’t matter how effective you are, you’ve fallen short.

Two friends of mine, April Gann and Carly Jones, have recently written about a Jim Collins’ video that applies his Hedgehog concept and its three circles to individuals as he did for organizations in his book Good to Great. And, as you might remember, one of his three circles is “what you are deeply passionate about” which he now applies to his individual version of the Hedgehog concept.

I love Jim Collins stuff and I particularly like the idea of the Hedgehog concept being used by individuals.

The question I have is does Collins and all the rest of us really understand the true meaning of passion?

This is an important question. Because if it’s what’s expected of us, what we expect of others and it’s now a requirement for success then we’d better know what we are signing up for.

When we think of passion what do we think of? Often it’s used in place of the word “enthusiasm” and means having a high level of emotion for something. This is why we want it for ourselves and expect it from others.

But here’s the kicker. As important as enthusiasm is it’s not passion. Not even close.

The word “passion” as it’s come down to us from the Greek and Latin means something totally different.

It means “to suffer.”

That’s why we speak of the “passion of Christ” not the “enthusiasm of Christ.” They are two radically different things.

Seeing passion in its correct light raises two questions we all have to ask.

First, should it ever be our place to expect someone else to suffer for something? Its one thing to expect enthusiasm but it’s another to ask someone to suffer.

Secondly, when we ask ourselves the question ‘what are we passionate about?” we should rephrase it to “what am I willing to suffer for?” This is the better question and requires prayer and reflection before we answer it.

So I’ve concluded for my life that I will be enthusiastic about a lot of things but only choose to be passionate about a few. Those few things center on people and Christ and His Kingdom. We are not called to be passionate about anything else.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. MD #

    Nice post dad! Like how you explained its original meaning.

    February 8, 2011
    • Thanks Buddy for the feedback. Sometimes we aren’t as careful with language as we should be. Have a great b-day.

      February 8, 2011
  2. Matt Wagner #

    Right on, Mike!

    February 9, 2011
  3. judy batdorff #

    Very interesting piece. Those Greeks are usually on the mark:) However, I have been guilty of the vernacular faux pas you presented.

    I have referred to myself as a passionate person many times–some using the “right” definition–others a bit off the mark.

    I will now rephrase my self-proclaimed personality to be fervent, ardent, zealous, and sometimes obsessive (not so proud of that one–but I do get the job done:)and reserve “passionate” for those few things/individuals/beliefs for which I would lay down my life.

    February 11, 2011
    • Thanks Judy for the feedback. I’m glad it was helpful. I would agree with you that you are a fervent, ardent and I would say enthusiastic person. Those are all great things. But as you said we should save our passion for just a few things.

      February 11, 2011

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