The Passion Hypothesis

I'll be honest. . . . . .I wish someone would have written this about 10 years ago(link at the end).

Not a week goes by when I don't talk to someone who is tied up in knots about what they should do with their life, someone who is considering a career change, young people who are stressed about deciding what direction to take, or people who work in the service or skilled trade industries thinking they are missing out.  (FOMO is huge when we think about this question)

We've all heard, and been influenced by the passion hypothesis.  It goes something like this:   " the key to occupational happiness is to first figure out what you’re passionate about and then find a job that matches your passion”. Sounds harmless, right?  Maybe even helpful?   Here is an excerpt from Bethany Jenkins' article that shows a few big problems with this thinking:  

First, there’s no evidence we have preexisting passions to discover. Most of us are vocationally nimble and capable of doing a great number of things.

Second, focusing on our passion is self-centered. It’s asking what the world can offer us, not what we can offer the world. Such a perspective makes us hyperaware of what we don’t like about something.

Third, there’s no evidence that, if we love doing something, we’ll love doing it as a job. I’m passionate about running, but—setting aside that no one would sponsor me at my nine-minute/mile pace—I love it precisely because it’s play, not work.

Fourth, the passion hypothesis is anxiety-filled and riddled with too much pressure. It drives us to question our choices and overemphasize the importance of every step we take. It gives birth to fear and worry, not faith and peace.

I couldn't agree more with all of that.  From the self-centered aspect (Jesus said, whoever will lose his life will find it), to our passions changing, to the pressure of the whole thing; our culture needs a value adjustment on this issue.  I would hope the church would help people towards contentment and joyfully pouring out their lives for others.  I hope the church would help us to be humble with our passions, view them as fluid, and see them as a pathway to community, not individuality.  

I hope you'll all read Bethany Jenkins' piece on this issue.  It's so helpful.  (here)

(Sometimes people respond to me, "Aaron, you ARE working in your passion, so, easy for you to say!".)  Well, I will say that God has blessed with a lot of enjoyment in my work, but it's often not the thing I am excited about the most.  I also have had seasons of doing other things in my life, and my have those seasons again.  In fact, spending time doing things I don't love helps me appreciate the things that I DO love.  It helps me filter my life and stop expecting vocational things to be all-fulfilling.   Yes, I love what I do, I've worked hard at it, . . but, I have many passions and try to hold things with an open hand. )