This post is a continuation from Passion vs. Duty Part 1. However, it’s kind of like that TV show “Person of Interest”. You don’t have to watch any previous episodes in order to understand this one. You can just pick up and read this right off from the start. However, I recommend you read Passion vs. Duty Part 1 so you can get the full scope of what I’m talking about here.
Now, if you’ve read some of my other blog posts, you will know that I am a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. Pursuing passions and finding your identity goes right along with my Christian values. Although work and duty are important parts of your life, by themselves they fall far short of establishing the identity of an individual. There are many other aspects and passions to being a person – personal growth and development, family, citizenship, friendships, and faith. So to define oneself by one’s occupation or duty is incomplete. It tends to place more value on the self instead of on God or on the activity rather than on character and more on success than on relationships. In short, it tends to equate employment with human life. So instead of defining or labeling yourself by your duties or your job, live your life through your callings and define yourself through Christ, who is your passion and who you can include in your callings 1.
From the Bible’s perspective, a “calling” describes all of the responsibility of every believer to serve God with all their lives. This means that as you’re sweeping your kitchen, cleaning your toilet, driving to work, shoveling the snow, raising your kids, know that you are doing these things because God has called you to serve in those ways.
My pastor, Rob Skingleton of Summit Church, once started a sermon with these words:
“Don’t put God first in your life. If you do that, you pray, study and read your bible in the morning then you cross that off your list. You then go on to other things in your day and forget about God for the most part.
“Instead put God central in your day. Carry Him with you during every part of your walk. Meditate on Him at the stop light. Thank Him for that parking spot. Pray for that coworker who is going through a tough time. Place Him as the center of your life and you will see a difference.”
There is a journey of faith that every Christ follower should use in aligning their duties to their calling.
- Every believer is called to belong to God 2
- Ephesians 4:4 (NKJV), “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling,”
- All believers are also called to gratefully accept the work of Christ 2
- 2 Timothy 1:9 (NKJV), “Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,”
- We, as believers, are also called to become Christ-like. This means that in everything we do, we are to take on the character and personification of Christ 2
- 1 Peter 1:15 (NKJV), “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,”
- I Peter 3:9 (NKJV), “not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”
- As we pursue to be more like-minded with Christ, He is assisting us and equipping us with the skills in every duty we do 2
- 2 Peter 1:5-10 (NKJV), “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble,”
- Every believer is united to serve God and other people. Jesus has drawn us to Him to personify our faith that is desirable to Him. We should also proclaim God’s work in all we say or do 2
- Ephesians 4:1-3 (NKJV), “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
- 1 Peter 2:9-10 (NKJV), “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”
- All believers are called to be citizens of the new heaven and new earth. Living a life for God ultimately guides Christians to the end of being “glorified”; established to belong to Christ in heaven, finally blameless and holy. On that final day, we will proclaim the unification of Christ and every faithful Christian. Our loyalty to The Lord on earth validates our eternal calling in heaven 2
- Matthew 5:19 (NKJV), “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Why can’t we find fulfillment and gratification in our passions alone? You were created to mirror God’s splendor and if you are looking for your identity in your own passions and duties apart from Christ, you are focusing inward on yourself. You will never discover eternal gratification and fulfillment apart from Christ.
Here are some examples of how people search for identity in themselves:
- They are very successful and accomplished at their workplace. However, they eventually realize their family life at home is declining.
- They put all their efforts and fulfillment into their job. As soon as they are laid off, they realize that they put their identity in something that was temporary and now find themselves empty and void.
- A mother spent 25 years of her life helping raise 3 kids. Her heart and soul was invested into every part of her kid’s lives. Her kids were everything she was. She didn’t have any hobbies or passions outside helping her kids grow up. Now that she’s an emptynester, she can’t find any identity or fulfillment in her life.
Instead of placing our identity and fulfillment in temporary things, even if they are noble pursuits, we need to focus our identity on our eternal, never changing God. Knowing this is the first step. Understanding how that actually transforms the way we function is the next step. Here are four ways of how understanding our true identity through Christ can considerably change the way we live our lives.
- We no longer chase after the desires of our flesh but instead seek to bring God glory in all areas of our life
- 1 John 2:15-17 (NKJV), “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
- If we search for our identity in ourselves or in temporary things, we are misguided. However, when we change our focus and instead shift our identity on Christ, we will not be defeated by our shortcomings and flaws, boast in pride in our own accomplishments or abandon hope in mistakes or hardships. Instead of losing ourselves in the allure of the common, temporary passions, we should look to Christ who offers us a secure, balanced and everlasting desire in His plan for us 2.
- We have no apprehension about our destiny
- Romans 8:14-15 (NKJV), “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’”
- If we live in sync and harmony with God, even as difficult as it is to fathom, we have nothing to be afraid of in this life. Our places are safe in eternity as adopted sons and daughters in God’s kingdom. We shouldn’t dread failures such as financial collapse, losing our job, getting diseases or being humiliated because of our faith. Of course, these hopes don’t come easily. They aren’t pain free. However, you can walk in certainty that The Lord has absolute authority over every worry of our lives and will prepare us for everything He puts in our paths. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:7-15). He knows the numbers of hairs on your head (Luke 12:7). The Lord has already gone before you (Deuteronomy 31:8). He even knows when a bird falls and dies (Matthew 10:29). Don’t worry about it but trust in God’s provision! 2
- We have been purchased from death by Jesus’ death. We can declare our identity through the sacredness of Christ. We can be assured that He will equip us with the tools to overcome our apprehension. Our identity in Christ gives us a firm foundation to stand on instead of our temporary passions 2.
- There is no need to compare ourselves with the accomplishments of others. When we pursue to delight in Christ, our identity is unseen and His identity is lifted up instead.
- Romans 14:5-8 (AMP), “One person regards one day as better [or more important] than another, while another regards every day [the same as any other]. Let everyone be fully convinced (assured, satisfied) in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord. He who eats, eats for the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; while he who abstains, abstains for the Lord and gives thanks to God. None of us lives for himself [for his own benefit, but for the Lord], and none of us dies for himself [but for the Lord]. If we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord. So then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”
- Measuring ourselves with others or relying on the opinions of others can wear you down. This can also develop into self-doubt concerning personal decisions because of our ingrained nature to please man instead of God. One needs to be careful not to dictate their own beliefs and opinions onto others as if they are better or “more Christian” than they are. We need to instead rely on Christ for knowledge and insight into the subject of individual principles. We need to be objective to listen and discern other people’s opinions while setting judgement aside and then continue in assurance to honor and have faith in Christ 2.
- Ultimately, the honor of our callings, passions and identities belongs to Christ. After all, He was the One who bestowed us these gifts we call talents. One should not become enclosed in a canopy of self-seeking, egotistical glory, which is the polar opposite of what God desires. They would miss out on the real blessing reserved for those who seek to serve God with the gifts and talents He has given them and then offer Him the glory instead of seeking it for themselves 2.
- Hardships should not overwhelm us. We should be aware that they help cultivate eternal worth
- Romans 8:16-17 (NKJV), “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
- If you identify with Christ, you will eventually identify with Him in His misery. When Jesus temporarily suffered and was crucified, His sacrifice was not wasted. In the same way, all of our hardships and trials on earth won’t be either. Sin and death were overthrown and defeated through Christ’s sacrifice. As a result, when we identify with Him, He uses suffering to defeat our sin, to cause us to manifest more of His character. Not only does suffering cleanse us, it comforts us that, after temporary difficulties, we will eventually be magnified in eternity with Him 2.
- I myself can attest that offering my life to Christ hasn’t come without trials. I’ve seen my fair share of disappointments, tragedies and frustrations. Everyone can say that, in some way, they have experienced hardships. However, few can say that they were thankful in the midst of their trials and have now found joy because of them. That voluntary joy and peace only comes through Christ. Suffering is insignificant if experienced outside of Christ 2.
- I have discovered that, during my trials, the more I pray for the things that I want and the harder I hope for an outcome I have fabricated, the farther I drift away from God’s ultimate plan. Instead, I pray in absolute submission. I give it all to my Creator because I know that His plan (that is usually very unlike my own self-centered one) is the ultimate best for me. My carnal, temporal viewpoint then transforms and syncs with God’s eternal, omniscient plan.
- I can go through life experiencing pain, following my own objective and living in fear. Or I can identify with Christ, sync my thoughts with His (through prayer, meditation, bible study and fellowship with other believers). I choose the latter!
In conclusion, Christ needs to be a HUGE part of our duties and passions. If we do this, we can transform our outlook and have callings instead of duties. We can also enjoy our passions to a greater extent if we realize that God created the mountains you see during your hike, He gave you the abilities and talents to play an instrument and He is involved in every part of your relationships.
- NKJV study bible (2nd ed.). (2007). Dallas, TX: Thomas Nelson.