discipline

The Problem With Passion

by Larry Hehn on July 17, 2013

passion

“Follow your passion.”

It has become the mantra of a generation.

At quick glance, it might even seem to make sense.

But don’t go tattooing it across your forearm or between your shoulder blades just yet. First, watch some early auditions for American Idol. Or America’s Got Talent. Then realize how misleading your passion can be.

You may be passionate about something, but it doesn’t mean you are – or ever will be – any good at it. You may be passionate about something, but it doesn’t mean that it is – or ever will be – any good for you. Or others.

Passion can be fleeting. It can be misguided. As romantic and inspirational as it may sound, following your passion can get you into heaps of trouble.

“Romeo and Juliet followed their passion. Look where that got them.”
– Stephen Balkam

Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean that we are to live without passion.

What it does mean is we need to cultivate our passion, not submit to it carte blanche. We need to discover and develop it through following God’s direction.

Fact is, most people who are passionate about what they do, developed that passion over time. They did more than identify a personal desire and follow it. Rather, they discovered a way to use their gifts to serve others, and it has grown into a passion.

The problem with passion? It needs to be directed, not followed.

Don’t follow your passion. Cultivate it.

All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.  But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)  – Ephesians 2:3-5

But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ said. They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them. – Jude 1:17-19

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dentistOn Monday I went to the dentist. Naturally, on the previous Thursday I started to floss, hoping to make it look like I’d been flossing regularly for the last six months.

Oops.

Even though my dentist is a really nice guy with a great sense of humor, I don’t usually enjoy my visits. Even if it’s just for a clean and polish.

Most appointments start off with a rookie hygienist, half my size and half my age, trying to gouge her way through my teeth with a sharp metal hook. This hook, though meant to clean my teeth, quite often finds its way into my gums as well.

As much as I try to stay relaxed and distracted by the 24-hour news channel on the TV screen that’s glued to the ceiling, I can’t help but stiffen and wince as the hook-wielding sprite-du-jour bloodies my gums.

I never appreciated or understood all that pain until Monday’s appointment. For the first time ever, my hygienist actually explained to me what she was doing, and why she had to scrape below the gumline.

It turns out that, though painful, removing the plaque from below the gumline keeps my teeth clean and healthy. The longer I go without that maintenance, the worse my teeth will get, and the more painful the work will be to fix them.

Knowing that didn’t lessen the pain, but it made it more bearable.

That’s the attitude I try to remember when God disciplines me. His knowledge of – and desire for – what’s best for me should always trump my selfish desires. Though it’s painful, his way is the best.

The longer I go against it, the worse things will get, and the more painful it will be to fix them.

God, let me seek and follow your will today, not mine.

Oh yeah, and please remind me to floss.

Amen.

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. – Hebrews 12:11

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5 Things I Learned from Growing a Beard for 40 Days

by Larry Hehn on March 11, 2013

beard day 40Well, we are now 40 days into my year-long quest of growing a beard worthy of Duck Dynasty.

At the start of this great adventure, I posted some reasons why I’m growing a beard in the first place. And, as the facial follicles festively fill out, I’ve made a few observations about the whole process.

It’s amazing how, when you’re looking for simple life lessons, they seem to pop up in the most unusual circumstances. Like letting your hair grow.

In totally random order, here is some of the wisdom I’ve gleaned from the experience so far:

  1. Change and growth don’t happen overnight. It’s a process that you need to commit to, something that happens daily. Sometimes the change is so gradual, you don’t notice from day to day. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Note your progress so you can look back over time to see the results.
  2. Change and growth can be uncomfortable. Any guy who has grown a beard can tell you about that stretch, a few days into it, where it starts to itch. Many guys will cave at this point and give up in the name of comfort. Only the truly committed will soldier through to see the reward.
  3. Change and growth won’t look good right away. Even the best beards started as unsightly stubble. Hey, you gotta start somewhere.
  4. Change and growth won’t appeal to everyone. You may get comments from others about how this new venture isn’t such a good idea. Some may have a valid point (not everyone can – or should – grow a beard). A few just might be jealous. Beard envy, anyone? Choose to get feedback from those you respect who will “tell it like it is”.
  5. Those who have been there will rally around you and offer encouragement. I’ve swapped plenty of beard stories with some great guys over the last few weeks, and don’t think I’ll ever tire of them. There’s a special bond among guys with beards, a kinship. A knowing nod and a smile that says, “Hey, me too!”

And a bonus thing I learned this past week – toddlers can stare for a very, very long time.

What changes have you been going through lately? What changes have you been putting off?

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