Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 12: Passion: A Piece of His Heart

The 1981 British film Chariots of Fire, tells the true story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics: Eric Liddell, a Scottish Christian and Harold Abrahams, an English Jew. In perhaps the movie's most memorable scene, Lidell's sister challenges him, questioning whether his love for running exceeds his love for God. When he misses a church prayer meeting while training for his race, she accuses him of no longer caring for God.

His response confirms his prior commitment to return to the China mission field, although he believes his running glorifies God as well. He then speaks the words that have transcended the film since its release three decades ago:

"I believe that God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure."
What do you do that makes you feel God's pleasure? This, most likely, is your passion.

Passion can be described as the thing you could do everyday, all day without getting paid one penny for it. It's the thing that makes your heart beat double-time. It's the conversation piece that creates excitement in your spirit.

When another person taps into our area of passion, we find ourselves talking faster, talking more, talking with -- well, passion.

For over a decade, my husband Anthony has taught the Network class at church. A resource distributed by the Willow Creek Association, Network trains church members to identify their spiritual gifts, personal style and ministry passion. Through Network, many Christians discover their purpose within their local churches.

Network explains a ministry passion this way:
"God chose to take a piece of his heart -- and put it into your heart -- in the form of a Ministry Passion."
Network uses the following assessment questions to discover one's passion. As you read them, answer them for yourself:
  • If you could snap your fingers and know that you wouldn't fail, what would you do for others?
  • What do you repeatedly see that annoys or angers you, which if changed, would be more glorifying to God and edifying to others?
  • I care about some things more than other things. I care most about...
  • At the end of my life, I'd love to be able to look back and know I'd done something about...
And I'd like to add:
  •  What could I do everyday, all day, without getting paid one penny for it?
I believe these answers will guide you to your personal passion. And I also believe that your passion can reach far beyond the local church. Some people's passions will lead them to teach bible study or to host new members gatherings in their homes. Other people's passions will lead them to teach English in an underprivileged, inner-city school or run for a political office. And other people's passions will take them to another city, state or country. Some people's passions will lead them to the mission field on another continent.

The most exciting thing about passion is it's God-given. Our passion overflows from His heart to ours. We don't have to create it or make it happen.
"For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." Philippians 2:13
So I'm sure you're wondering: what are Carla's passions? Well, one of my passions is for people to have access to and be exposed to great literature. Out of this passion, I began my Facebook book club. I love telling others about really good books, and love discussing them after they've read them. When I introduce a friend to a good book, I feel like I've lead her to a hidden treasure box. I love sharing life-changing books with others. Books that make one better.

I'm also passionate about education. It angers me to no end to see children in the U.S. receiving sub-par education. There's no excuse, when we're one of the wealthiest nations in the world. I dream of founding a charter school where literature, science and technology are passionately emphasized. I'd love to see young children develop a love for learning and a love for literature. I would love to witness children trading their Nintendo DS games for classic books. I'd love to see children spend less time in front of the "idiot box" and more time watching plays at the community theater. I live for the day that children would exchange "Madden '11" and "Call of Duty" for C.S. Lewis and Tolkien and Hans Christian Andersen.

These are just two of my passions. And at first glance they aren't particularly spiritual. But I believe God cares about the whole person, and my passions can effect change in our communities. If we, and our children, are spending less time with video games and reality television and more time reading life-changing literature, wouldn't our world be a better place? I certainly believe it will.

I'm allowing God to ignite the passions that He's placed in my heart. Will you do the same?

Purposed for Him,



  1. Fabulous! I loved that Networking class Anthony did, so revealing. I was actually talking about that the other day :) I for one am glad you are currently choosing to pursue your passion for writing!

  2. Carla, this was awesome! I needed to ask myself those questions about what I'm passionate about. It's actually made me excited for the next leg of our journey!

  3. Thanks Michelle! So glad you're pursuing your passions (wellness and writing) too. We're all better for it!

  4. Thanks Sherrie! Isn't it good to know that God doesn't just use our pastor-husbands? He wants to use us too!

  5. I love when I feel God's pleasure in what He has gifted me. What a sweet sweet reminder.

  6. Two things: I was thinking that you should also be a pastor (or maybe a Christian counselor) because you are "good" at exercising people's minds, but I guess that's sort of what you (and other pastors wive's) already are, like "asst. pastors" or "women's leader". Very very good. The other thing is that I went to look for that "Sould Cravings" book, but it was out of stock. It must be fairly "new" and pretty good to have so many people buying it. So, I think that's great-- your book-recommendation club and goal for a charter school. And thanks for sharing about those not necessarily being "spriritual" things, but a way to connect with people (and subliminally leading them to think about Christ, of course). I would like to be in that Network class if Anthony teaches it again (is that for all new members?). So far just talking & writing (in English or Spanish) and pampering dogs are the things I feel "passionate" about... and what drives me nuts is scattered trash and people not recycling. Hmmm...

  7. P.S. My husband (Erick) purchased that "Chariots of Fire" movie for the trip. Said it was an inspirational movie we needed to own, but I haven't seen it yet. Nice coincidence that you mention it here. Everything is so "coincidental", it's neat!!!

  8. I love this. I've taken that network class and reading this post is reminding me of my passions and what God is calling me to do. Thanks, Carla.