To find your purpose, find your passion

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What is the role of passion in life, work, success, and satisfaction? I’m not really talking about the romantic kind of passion, but that is important, as well. Today, we’re looking at that kind of passion that provides life’s direction, drive, and devotion and how it can provide purpose and meaning.

To better understand the role of passion, consider what life is like when you have no passion for anything. A passionless person is likely bored with life and, quite possibly, suffering emotionally because they feel they have no purpose in life. Without passion, few things really have meaning. Life is just better when we are giving ourselves completely to someone else, something else, or a greater good.

I have been struck recently by a T. D. Jakes quote:

“If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.”

Jakes is exactly right! When you discover that which gives you the most passion, you have found your purpose. That might be raising your kids, serving others, serving God, achieving a life goal, or something else significant in your life. To that which your heart beats, you’ll find your real purpose.

Passion also plays a significant role in other aspects of our life. I have listed several quotes on passion below that help illustrate its importance and role in every aspect of our lives. See which of these might make a point with you:

  1. Passion gives meaning – “Passion is what gives meaning to our lives. It’s what allows us to achieve success beyond our wildest imagination. Try to find a career path that you have a passion for.”  – Henry Samueli
  2. Passion unleashes creativity“Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something, then you’re more willing to take risks.”  – Yo-Yo Ma
  3. Passion drives success“A strong passion for any object will ensure success, for the desire of the end will point out the means.”  – Henry Hazlitt
  4. Passion brings happiness“The saddest people I’ve ever met in life are the ones who don’t care deeply about anything at all. Passion and satisfaction go hand in hand, and without them, any happiness is only temporary, because there’s nothing to make it last.” ― Nicholas Sparks (from his book, Dear John)
  5. Passion motivates“If you have a strong purpose in life, you don’t have to be pushed. Your passion will drive you there.” ― Roy T. Bennett (from his book, The Light in the Heart)
  6. Passion drives involvement“Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are great because of their passion.” ― Martha Graham
  7. Passion confirms your actions“Passion is a feeling that tells you: this is the right thing to do. Nothing can stand in my way. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says. This feeling is so good that it cannot be ignored. I’m going to follow my bliss and act upon this glorious sensation of joy.” ― Wayne W. Dyer
  8. Passion represents the call of your heart “I have not always chosen the safest path. I’ve made my mistakes, plenty of them. I sometimes jump too soon and fail to appreciate the consequences. But I’ve learned something important along the way: I’ve learned to heed the call of my heart. I’ve learned that the safest path is not always the best path and I’ve learned that the voice of fear is not always to be trusted.” ― Steve Goodier
  9. Our passion is that for which we’re willing to fight – “If we don’t fight for what we ‘stand for’ with our passionate words and honest actions, do we really ‘stand’ for anything?” ― Tiffany Madison (from her book, Black and White)
  10. Passion makes our life (or career) journey fun“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress: Working hard for something we love is called passion.” ― Simon Sinek

Some might ask, “OK, so how do I discover my passion? What defines my heart?” Here are a few things that I think can help define your passion:

  • Your passion is what you think of first when you awaken each day? What are you thinking about when you go to sleep? These are your passions.
  • What is the last thing or person or activity you would give up if someone asked you to make a list? That is your passion.
  • What in life gives you the most satisfaction, makes you smile the most, or is the most fun for you? It is likely that this points you to your passion.
  • What work activity motivates you the most? What gives you the most satisfaction? Chances are, this is your workplace passion.
  • What one thing would you do differently in your life if money and time were not limiting? That one thing might be your passion.

As T. D. Jakes says, when you find your passion, you’ll find your purpose. Please, do not life another day without knowing your purpose. When you find (or acknowledge) your passion, you just might find your life is motivated in a new way. Something to consider…

Have a great day!

 

 

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Is there a place for Christianity in today’s workplace?

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How does the Christian thrive in today’s workplace without completely hiding his/her faith? Should any evidence of Christianity in the workplace be prohibited? Can a Christian adhere to his/her standards for living without negatively impacting their career? Should an employer seek to hire Christians or shy away from them? Exactly what should the role be today for Christianity in the workplace?

Yes, answering these questions is more challenging today than perhaps at any time in our modern history. It seems that there is more division now in our society than at any time in my lifetime, at least. And, people are so sensitive and litigious that any real or perceived slight or disagreement results in issues that detract from the real purpose at hand. Entire functions, rules, training programs, and cultural shifts have occurred merely to avoid these issues.

So, how do we address the role of Christianity in the workplace? Let me take a shot at providing some clarity, especially as has been my experience over the last four decades, that might relieve some of the stress that I believe exists.

  1. Should a Christian attempt to totally hide their faith and beliefs in the workplace? – No, of course not! A Christian (that is, an individual that believes and trusts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior) should not seek to completely hide his/her faith… even in the workplace. However, there certainly is a line that should not be crossed. Let’s look at three key aspects of living your faith in the workplace:
    • For the most part, we are hired to do a job and to do it to our very best ability. We must remember that the primary duty of an employee is to distinguish ourselves as an excellent employee. When we do our job well, we earn respect. The Bible even says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters… (Col. 3:23).” So, when you excel at your work, you demonstrate the integrity that should be expected of a Christian.
    • Live you life as though you are the only Bible others will ever read. Though at work, every person should exhibit a loyalty to the company that pays their salary, we should live in a way that expresses those positive attributes a Christian should possess. Live in a way that others see the fruit of the Spirit that should typify a Christian (“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” from Gal 5:22-23).
    • When we live our lives in a way to routinely express the fruit of the Spirit, we are living our faith without stepping over the line of inappropriateness. That line is the point of overtly verbalizing our faith in a way that is not tolerated by others. In other words, we must not push our faith to the point that we become a nuisance in the workplace. Remember, also, that we are to be humble. Paul reminded us of this (Phil. 2:3): “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”
  2. Can you live your faith as a Christian without negatively impacting your career? – Again, I believe the answer is “yes!” Living as a Christian should not negatively impact your career. In fact, I believe that serving in the workplace by humbly living our faith can positively impact your career. Certainly, many of us can recite examples of times that we may have been excluded or worse because of our faith. You may even have been ridiculed by your boss! However, in the end, I believe we can positively influence others by living our faith AND I believe that God will honor our obedience by blessing us. Why do I believe this? Well, you have to look no further than the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife in Genesis 39. You will recall that Joseph was pursued by the wife of his boss (his name was Potiphar). She tried multiple times to seduce him, but each time he deflected her advances. Finally, she grew tired of his rejection and lied saying that he tried to sexually molest her. Potiphar became angry and threw Joseph into prison. Eventually, Joseph’s obedience to God was rewarded and he was restored to a top position in the Egyptian kingdom. His career was actually benefited by his adherence to his faith and beliefs. Doing the right thing is always appropriate, even if our reward is delayed.
  3. How should employers (e.g., managers, supervisors, corporations, administrations, etc.) respond to Christianity in the workplace? – Rather than avoid Christianity (or practicing Christians) in the workplace, I would argue that employers should openly welcome them. As with any group of individuals, there are always exceptions to this rule, but a Christian should be an individual that benefits the team/company by consistently expressing:
    • Honest ethics – A Christian should be an individual that can be trusted to do the right thing in the right way every time. Though Christians do stumble (we are all sinners… Christians are just forgiven sinners), a Christian should be an individual with consistently high integrity and character.
    • Good teammates – A Christian should consistently exhibit humility and service to others. In other words, they should be the perfect teammates. They should collaborate well, seek the overall good, and do what serves others the best.
    • Treat others well – A Christian should not be a trouble-maker. You should not have to spend excess time dealing with poor behavior, unprofessional actions, or inappropriate performance when you hire a Christian. In fact, a Christian should exemplify a love for others that benefits the team.
  4. How should a Christian respond to others in the workplace? – Despite everything said above, the real onus for the Christian in the workplace is on the individual… not the employer, not your coworkers. The practicing Christian must be obedient and live in the way espoused by Him whose name we carry. So, what should our response be to others in the workplace? We must realize that we will not automatically be embraced by everyone. Some will oppose us simply because of our faith. However, despite that, this is how we should respond:
    • The Christian in the workplace must consistently express love to others through our words, our actions, and our service. There is a song that has these lyrics: They will know we are Christians by our love. This song is based on the words of John…”By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35). In a world challenged by so much division and enmity, we must be different. Those that believe differently than we do should be able to see our faith day-by-day through the lives we lead.
    • We must treat others the way we want to be treated. In Luke 6:31, we find the Golden Rule… “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” This should be the filter through which we consider all our actions. We should regularly pause/reflect before acting and ask, “How would I want to be treated in this manner?” If we consistently do this, we will demonstrate our faith to others on a daily basis.
    • We should be known by the fruit we bear (“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” from Gal 5:22-23). If our lives are marked by these attributes, we will likely be successful in the workplace (though, not guaranteed!). But, we will certainly be honored by God. When we “…work as for the Lord…”, God will bless us.

So, despite the politically correct times in which we live, I believe there is an important role for Christianity in the workplace. When the Christian lives in a way that honors God, that person will make a positive impact on the organization. A Christian should not attempt to hide his/her faith. They will know we are Christians by our love, not necessarily our words. How we live our lives matters.

Have a great day! And, remember, this could be our best day yet!

 

Let’s be realistic about the value we add

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My son’s high school football coach had a saying:

“If I could buy you guys for what you’re really worth and sell you for what you think you’re worth, I’d be a millionaire!”

Individuals often have a distorted view of the value they provide. They think that they are indispensable and no one could truly take their place. In reality, most individuals can be readily replaced.

Other individuals have the opposite problem… they feel that they are worthless and add no value to anything. They tend to undervalue anything they do.

How can we be realistic about our value and what we contribute? Is it possible to take a step back and be objective about our skills, abilities, and contributions?

My wife and I were recently in the market to find a couple pieces of used furniture. You can get a real education on value by looking at used furniture on some of the buy/sell websites. Almost everyone has an entertainment center for sale. Likewise, there must be enough used patio furniture to fill a small state! But, there are several serious observations you can make about value by looking at these sites. And, these observations can be applied to the value we add to our organization, as well:

  1. Be unique – Furniture or other items that are a “one of a kind” often have enhanced value. For example, there are a few baseball cards in existence that are worth over $1M USD. These have such value, primarily, because there are only a few surviving. Being able to do something that no one else can do makes you valuable to your organization and in the marketplace. If your skills cannot be found elsewhere, your value is high. But, if you can only offer what many others can do, don’t overestimate your work value. Be realistic… companies aren’t willing to pay you more than others with the same skill set. Being able to offer something that no one else can offer makes you highly valuable in the workplace. But, if you can’t be unique, at least you can…
  2. Be the best – Even though there are literally hundreds of patio furniture sets on these buy/sell websites, the very best ones still have value. An entertainment center made of the best wood with fine details still has significant value to the right buyer. Being the best at something will always provide value to an employer. Don’t get caught in the trap of merely getting by or blending in. Whatever you have been asked to do, do it with gusto and excellence. Distinguish yourself by doing things better than anyone expects. And, by consistently doing things well, you become known as one that can be trusted. This usually leads to more responsibility and new opportunities.
  3. Be a problem solver – When viewing the hundreds of items on those buy/sell websites, I often ran across an item that would be very beneficial to solving problems that arise. For example, I found that some sellers had extra garden fencing that they no longer needed. The timing for this was perfect because deer, rabbits, and other creatures have recently ravaged our home garden. Problem solved, if we chose to buy the fencing. Likewise, having the ability and reputation as a problem solver adds value to an individual in the workplace. Being a “go to” person creates value that is immeasurable. As a former leader of a large organization, I can tell you that individuals with this ability are highly valued and tend to get a disproportionate number of promotions and career advancement opportunities. Can you objectively look at yourself and conclude that you are known as a problem solver? Are you the “go to” person when something needs to get done?
  4. Make things better or easier – When browsing these buy/sell websites, I ran across several items that I did not expect, but that intrigued me… not by what they were, but by what they could do. By looking through these items, I realized that items that either made my life better or easier were attractive and had added value. A beautiful looking hammock caught my eye, as did a reasonably priced wicker couch. Likewise, individuals in the workplace that simply make it a better place have value. An individual that creates calm out of chaos; improves morale; encourages teammates; or motivates the team and others to perform at a higher level are extremely valuable to the organization. Think about this… Are you the kind of person everyone wants to work with or one they seek to avoid? Do you leave the place better or worse? Do you help drive the careers of others? If you can be this kind of employee, you’ll always be valued.
  5. Do not carry more burden than benefit – Similarly, I found several items on these websites that should have had value, but did not because of some “burden” associated with them. For example, I found a cast iron, claw-footed bathtub in great shape on one site. It was free! However, the advertiser said that it would take an army of folks to carry it downstairs for the upstairs bathroom and a heavy-duty truck to haul it away. Because of this, the advertiser knew that it would not be appealing to many despite its perfect shape and desirability. Though the tub had great apparent value, its actual value was low because of the haul-away burden it represented. When an individual in the workplace consumes more negative energy than they contribute, their value, as an employee is greatly diminished. Sometimes, a highly skilled individual has no value in the organization simply because they are more trouble than they or worth.

Finally, I cannot have any discussion on value without ensuring that we understand the huge difference between value and worth, as individuals. Value and worth have nothing to do with each other. Value is what we bring to the table, but worth is something that everyone has. Every person has worth in the eyes of God… we should never forget that! We need to remember that each person has been created as a unique individual and is loved by others. Treating each other as people of value is our duty as individuals, teammates, friends, and family members. So, please, do not confuse value as an employee and worth as a person… they are not connected!

So, what do you think? Are you adding value to your organization? Or, do you need to adjust your approach or enhance your skills? Let’s be realistic… if you were the leader of your organization, would you hire yourself? If everyone in your organization was just like you, what kind of organization would yours be?

Thanks for reading! Have a fabulous day!

Unexpected blessings

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All too often, we look back on the day and marvel that we “simply made it through it.” That rut that we are in just seems too comfortable, too predictable, and too routine. It may be rare that you look back on a day and are changed by something simple, something sweet, or something we totally didn’t expect.

Following is a story that might be familiar to you. I ran across it a few months ago and it touched me. I would like to recount it here, but look at it, not just from the expected perspective, but from three different perspectives. Perhaps, even if you know this story, you’ll see the world a bit differently this time.

She Doesn’t Know Me, But I Still Know Who She Is

It was a busy morning, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman in his 80’s, arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb.

He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am. I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would be able to see him.

I saw him looking at his watch, and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound. On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound.

While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctor’s appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry. The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife.

I inquired as to her health; he told me that she had been there for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer’s disease. As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late.

He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years now.

I was surprised, and asked him, ‘And you still go every morning, even though she doesn’t know who you are’? He smiled as he patted my hand and said, ‘She doesn’t know me, but I still know who she is’.

I had to hold back tears as he left; I had goose bumps on my arm, and thought, ‘That is the kind of love I want in my life’. True love is neither physical, nor romantic.

True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.

Let’s look at this from the perspective each of the elderly man, his wife in the nursing home, and the nurse telling the story.

  1. The Elderly Man – Several words come to mind when I think of this man… devoted, loyal, dedicated, committed, loving. This man, in my mind, is living out the promises he made when he made his vows to his wife… in sickness and in health. This man is showing how a man should love his wife. I think many men believe that when they marry, they get to continue to live the life that they led up to that point… a life spent, for the most part, dedicated to their own happiness. When you take a wife, your own interests and happiness become secondary to her happiness. Your wife replaces you as the most important person in life. I am not saying that a husband must disavow all pursuits of hobbies, fun, and happiness. But, men, you can no longer be #1 when you have joined your hand and heart with another. Being loyal, dedicated, devoted, faithful, and loving to one woman will pay dividends for you and your family for a lifetime! This elderly man was continuing to give, to serve, and to love his wife well beyond the time she could repay him. Every husband should strive to love his wife like this man!
  2. The Wife in the Nursing Home – Every wife deserves to be loved like this woman is loved! Likewise, every man should be loved by his wife like this. None of us knows our own fate. Probably, many reading this will eventually be plagued by dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or something else that robs us of our mind. Knowing that, if the worst does happen, that there will be loved ones there at your side, through good and bad times, gives comfort that is hard to explain. Think about it… does your wife or husband know for sure that you’ll be there no matter what? I am blessed because I certainly know that I do.
  3. The Nurse – Right now, I am most interested in the perspective of the nurse. It was an ordinary day for her. Here, in the midst of a busy, normal day, she experienced something that was life-changing. She received an unexpected blessing from this man’s story. But, you know, had the nurse not taken the time to converse with this man… to simply show an interest… she would have missed this blessing. Had she just rushed through this procedure, treating it like every other procedure that day, she would have forfeited the chance to hear this touching story. How many of us just rush through the day or through life without taking just a minute to connect with others? How many unexpected blessings have we lost because we didn’t want to take a minute or pause to listen or open our hearts?

I don’t know where you are today or what you are going through. You may be facing the challenges of the wife in the nursing home. You may be struggling with a marriage that is strained, failing, or void of the love you want and need. You may be consumed with problems with the kids, financial struggles, career challenges, hopelessness, depression, fatigue, or sadness. You may just want to get on with your day and stay in that rut you have come to enjoy so much. However, I would challenge you to pause just a minute and start looking for those unexpected blessings that are right in front of you, poised, simply waiting for you to accept them.

When tomorrow comes, make a commitment to yourself to be alert and start looking for those unexpected blessings that await us. We never know when they will come. It could be a grandchild giving us a hug, a neighbor doing a favor, a group of 30+ year friends having coffee on the deck, a beautiful sunrise, or holding the hand of your wife. Don’t be in such a rush that you miss it. Don’t let the sun set tomorrow without finding the blessing that lies in wait for you. It is there… we just have to be willing to seek it and enjoy it when it happens.