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Red Hot Passion

Bill Hybels said in a message last year that passion is one of the defining characteristics of young leaders. He also talked about how that passion has a tendency to wane in an individual’s life over time. While validating the power of passion in a young leader’s life he also challenged those by saying that passion alone cannot sustain the life and ministry of a leader. Skill must be added to the equation. In fact, skill, experience, wisdom and resources are four things that most young leaders don’t have in abundance, as least when compared to their later years. Obviously some young leaders have way more skill, experience, wisdom and resources than their peers but they probably don’t have more than they will have thirty years down the road. Why is it though that over time passion seems to decrease as wisdom, skill, experience and resources increase? Some might argue that the idealism and passion of a young person is not sustainable but that it lays the tracks for the rest of an individual’s life. Almost like you want to get that passion as high as you can at it’s peak so that you can ride it out for as long as possible. For those 45 and older, (I’ll call that a generous halfway point in life) are you more passionate or less passionate about the things that once fueled your fire? Has your passion increased or decreased with each passing decade? I want to see my passions, by the time I’m 45, double from the point they’re at now. I hope I’m more focused, more committed, more sacrificial, more fanatical and more determined than ever by that time. What do I need to do to make this happen? How do I stir and stoke my passions so that they don’t atrophy? I do realize that the idealism, almost by definition, has a hard time not getting beaten down by the sad realities of life in the world today. But passion is different than idealism. When I look at my heroes, (let’s leave Bill Clinton out of this discussion, he’s more of a lower-case “h” hero to me compared to the capital “h” heroes in my life, Hudson Taylor, A. B. Simpson and the like) they are often individuals whose passion grew as they aged, adding to it wisdom, experience, skill and resources. Their strength of heart (passion) acted as a catalyst to develop both strength of mind and hands. Are these the people we read about that inspire us to look at our own lives and challenge us in ways we’ve long given up on? I’m working on my Master’s in Intercultural Studies right now, actually I’m writing this post because I’m avoiding doing my homework at the moment, but how sad would it be if this degree and these studies merely added letters to my name and knowledge to my mind yet in doing so replaced the passion in my heart? Here’s what I’m not saying—that those I observe older than me are passionless. Here’s what I am saying—why is passion something we more often associate with being young?

  1. Blogger Folkestad | 11:44 AM |  

    Josh, I love your thoughts on this! Do you think that we loose the passion because our passions are not allowed to continue? Are we simply tired of everyone telling us that our ideas and passions are too idealistic?
    I have seen in my life that I try to fit my passions into the structure I am currently in. Why is that? Why should a passion be constrained by a structure?
    I believe that many passions are God given. If that is the case, why would any structure or past define how our passions could play out?
    Does this make sense?

  2. Blogger Josh Mann | 3:52 PM |  

    I think i'm feelin ya Folkestad...there's probably a few reasons for this especially in your comparison of passion and structure. Our jobs fit within the structure and work on the structure etc and so therefore maybe sometimes our passions can get neglected, especially if we don't get to work with them in our current situation...does that make sense? One of my wife's thoughts was that we have to keep having significant experiences or opportunities with our passions in the coming decades to keep them fresh and in front of us. I might even think that conversations in our current structures (places of employment) would be open to us saying, hey I'm very committed to the role you hired me for, but nothing in the world gets me as excited or fired up as__________, can we find a way to have that be a part of every year or something?
    Might work...maybe not :)

  3. Anonymous Anonymous | 5:28 PM |  

    How is this topic just the same or different than marriage? Do we lose or gain passion for the one we marry over time. Or is that passion expressed differently over time?

    An Older Mann

  4. Blogger Josh Mann | 8:38 AM |  

    That's fair. However, I think many young people view the change in expression over time, both in marriage and in passion, more as a decline and less of a change. That doesn't mean that's actually the case however. Does a 50 year old express passion differently than a 20 year old? Probably. Does a couple that has been married for 50 years express their love differently than a couple of newlyweds? Definitely!

    Well Mr. Anonymous Older Mann, what would you say the trajectory of your passion has been over the past few decades? I think of you as a very passionate guy but I've had much more of an inside look than most others. Do you think it's important for those you lead, hypothetically, college students for example, to see your passion in ways they can pick up on or no?

  5. Blogger jmk | 10:31 PM |  

    interesting josh. and this is huge. i think passion is a topic that can be difficult to discuss simply due to the nature of the topic itself. so many unexplainables make up the anatony of passion, that in order to dissect and than discover the reasoning of this "overwhleming drive/ commitment/ excitement" one must choose to delve into the unknown. it is 'easier' when we are young, perhaps, to take these unknown risks, then when we are seemingly more set and stablized. i wonder if passion could be seen almost as the 'curious drive for hoped for occurences,' and i wonder in turn if when the occurences take place we lose our intrigue for next events... i wonder. what do you think? ((stay impassioned at all cost friend)) let me know your take.

  6. Anonymous Anonymous | 9:39 PM |  

    Why is passion now the word that is used in 4 out of 5 sentences? Why was it rarely used 100 years ago? Is passion the thing that God is looking for in our lives above all others. What about the guy who is passionate about his wife, the present one which is the third one. He lost passion for the other two after five years of marriage each.

    the older mann

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