This week I’ve found myself pondering what keeps folks from pursuing their passions, and I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps our greatest enemy is simply fear.
How many of us fail to engage our passions because we’re afraid of what that might look like? Of what we might look like when we’re still awkwardly developing, learning to flow smoothly with grace and finesse.
When my son Joshua was a young boy, he discovered he had a knack for the game of basketball. While there was no denying his natural ability to jump high and to get that ball through the hoop, his style while doing so was awkward. He was often all flailing arms and jerky movements, but he was good at the game. He might not have had the polished moves, but he got the job done, and he loved every minute of it.
The unsure preadolescent became a confident force to be reckoned with on the basketball court. He quickly drew attention with his enthusiasm and skill, and he developed confidence as he played, so much so that he came out grand champion of a few summer camp competitions. He pressed in and worked hard, not to perfect his technique, but to accomplish the goal of scoring the points. He learned to handle the ball with practiced control, even though he looked on the verge of losing it sometimes. And he did it all with a smile (and the perpetual tongue sticking out like Michael Jordan’s).
For a few years, basketball was Joshua’s passion, and he pursued it with gusto.
But what if he hadn’t? What if Joshua never chased after his passion for basketball because he was concerned his style might appear more reckless than another boy’s? What if he would have allowed his awkwardness to keep him from playing the game? From doing something he loved?
He would have missed out on a wonderful opportunity to grow and to become even better at a talent with which he was naturally gifted.
What about us?
What if, instead of being paralyzed by fear, we stepped out to practice our purpose? What if we dared to try something we love, even though we might look a bit awkward in our start-up?
What if we stopped neglecting that desire to throw ourselves wholeheartedly into the purpose that’s been tugging on our heartstrings? To stop “piddling’ and actually begin to pursue with devotion that thing others keep telling us we’re so good at?
I stumbled across an online article entitled The NBA’S 15 Smoothest Players, but some of its contents could just as easily be written for our own version of Christianity’s Smoothest Ministry Workers: ..being smooth is an all-around characteristic. These players rarely play out of their pace, never look fazed and are unflappable in clutch moments. There’s a graceful flow and elasticity that makes everything they do on the court seem natural.”
Yep, I know a few of those people. Everything they do appears effortless from beginning to end; the result of their endeavors is appealing to a myriad of folks; and to make it all the worse – they look good while doing it. Unfazed and unflappable in clutch moments.
I, on the other hand, often have sweat running down my face and endless piles of “first draft” attempts scattered on the floor next to the trash can. (Unlike my son’s, my aim is definitely off.) I generally feel awkward and flailing, totally flapping instead of unflappable, and clutching for sure footing during clutch moments.
BUT… again relying upon words from our Smoothest Players article: “That’s not to say those who don’t fit that description and aren’t included on this list are inferior, because production comes in very different styles.”
Production comes in very different styles. Your strengths might not match up against your neighbor’s, but that doesn’t make you somehow ineffective in getting the job done. It just means your style and approach is uniquely your own. Uniquely as God created it to be.
It’s time to get beyond our fears of not making the “smoothest” list and start releasing the passions within us. Regardless of how they line up against the passions of others. Comparison is a false measuring tool, my friend, and a fearful trap meant to keep us from ever sharing those unique gifts we have been given to grace this world.
So instead of leaning hard upon a particular form or a flawless style, how about we all lean hard upon the Lord? Let’s trust our passions to the One who placed them within us, and trust Him just as much to pull them forth at just the right moment, in just the right way, to be used to bless just the right person, at just the right time.
It’s even okay if you need to stick out your tongue to get the job done.
And that basketball-loving son of mine? Well, he’s all grown up and is seldom seen on a basketball court nowadays. Instead, he’s allowed God to turn the desires of his heart and lead him to the other side of the world where he travels through remote mountain villages sharing the name of Jesus with those who have never heard. Still awkward and imperfect at times, yet still passionate. Filled with the love of a different game – to carry the promise of God’s kingdom come to dwell within the hearts of men. A worthy passion, indeed.