Do what you were made to do! God made you for a purpose. He dreamed you up with a plan in mind, something that only you can do. When you do what you were made to do, you will be effective, you will be fulfilled, and you will be living life as you were meant to live it! God’s dream is hardwired into the way God designed you; it’s who you are. Today we’re talking about your God-given passions and personality.
God’s dream for you is reflected in your passions and personality.
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
You are God’s workmanship, God’s masterpiece, a work of art. The word “workmanship” translates the Greek word poiema; we get the English word “poem” from it. It means “that which is made or created”, and it was often used of a work of art, a masterpiece. You are God’s masterpiece.
Every person is a dream of God. God dreamed you up and designed you to do something. It says here that you were created to do good works—you were designed to do something good. And God prepared or planned these good things in advance for you to do. Do what you were made to do! What has God made you to do? The answer to that lies in your design.
ILL: My son Michael and I recently visited Valleyford Metal Crafters, a metal fabrication shop. We needed some welding done, and they did it for us. They had all kinds of very cool huge machines. Michael and I tried to guess what they did. Guess how we figured it out? By looking at their design, their shape. Each of those machines was designed to do something, and their design reflected their purpose.
In the same way, each of you is different, unique, and have been designed by God to do something, and your design reflects your purpose. So we’ve been looking at your design:
Natural abilities and talents.
And today: your God-given passions and personality.
God’s dream for you is reflected in your passions and personality.
1. Live your passions.
What do I mean by passions? I’m not talking about sex! That’s the first thing some people think of when they hear the word “passion”, but that’s not how I’m using it in this talk. So forget about sex!
And I’m not talking about evil desires. The Bible uses the words “desire” or “passion” in two ways: good and bad. There are good desires and bad desires, good passions and bad passions. Not everything I want to do is right or moral or good.
Romans 8:5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
Galatians 5:16-17 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other.
Galatians 5:24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
Here are two kinds of desires: the desires of the sinful nature and the desires of the Holy Spirit. Both live inside you. You’ve felt both. One minute we desire to do good; the next is not so pretty.
We all have these evil desires or passions that come from our sinful nature. The sinful nature is simply human nature on its own, apart from God. Many people say, “Human beings are basically good.” God says that human beings are made in His image; we have an amazing capacity for good. But we’re also fallen; we’re sinners with an equally amazing capacity for evil. So human beings are basically good and bad. It’s the bad part that Jesus came to forgive and fix!
We have two kinds of passions in us: good and bad. Passions that come from our sinful nature, and passions that come from God and the good He put in us. When I say “live your passions”, which one do you think I’m talking about? The God-passions. The good passions. Those desires for good that the Holy Spirit puts in you. You want to do good. You want to make a difference. You want to help others. You want to please God. Those desires are there inside you—those are the passions that I’m talking about today.
What do you want to do? What do you love to do? If you could do anything in the world for God, what would it be? What motivates you, interests you, fascinates you? What gets you excited; what makes your heart beat faster? What do you really care about? That’s what I mean by “passions”. And I think God puts those in you.
Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Delight in the Lord—what does it mean to delight in the Lord? Have you ever delighted in something? It means you enjoy it—it makes you happy.
ILL: A few months ago, I bought a motorcycle—a 1982 Yamaha Virago 750. Here’s a picture. I look good! Don’t worry—I did it with Laina’s approval! In fact, last week, she took her first ride with me—from our house to our next door neighbor’s. Hey, it was a start! I’m really enjoying riding—it’s very fun! It puts a smile on my face. You could say that I delight in riding. I look forward to it. I enjoy it.
I also delight in my wife. I was gone for a few days this week, and I looked forward to coming home, seeing her, being with her, talking with her. I love her, and enjoy being together. And I delight in my kids. I love hanging out with them, doing things with them, just being together. I enjoy them!
Delight in the Lord. I think it means that we love God, we enjoy being with Him; He makes us happy. TEV translates this verse, “Seek your happiness in the Lord.” Delight in the Lord, and what will happen? He will give you the desires of your heart. He’ll give you what you want. When you want God more than anything else, He’ll give you what you want! When you love and enjoy God, He’ll give you what you want. Why could He promise that? Because when you delight in the Lord, you’ll want the right things. In fact, some people think this says, “Delight in the Lord, and He’ll give you the right desires in your heart. He’ll put His passions in you.”
Jesus said the most important thing is to love God with all you’ve got—all your heart and soul and mind and strength. When you do, you can trust your desires. When someone who really loves God tells me that they have a desire, a passion to do something, I assume that God put it there.
Philippians 2:13 “For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him.” (NLT)
God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey Him. I believe that each of us have some God-given passions, the desires to do what God made us to do. And doesn’t it make sense that if God made you do something, He would give you the desire to do it? God created you to do something; don’t ignore those God-given desires and passions.
Passions are easy to recognize. Passions are enjoyable. You enjoy doing them—they energize you. Passions are consuming. When something is a passion, you are into it! You think about it in your spare time; you talk about every chance you get; if you’re cut, you bleed it! You love it, and don’t understand why everybody else doesn’t love it too!
ILL: Many years ago, a wonderful young lady ran our kids’ ministry. She had a passion for kids’ ministry. She lived for kids’ ministry. So when she asked you to help and you said no, she didn’t understand. Several times, she came to me very upset, wondering if certain people were even Christians—all because they didn’t share her passion. I had to remind her that it was ok for people to have other passions.
Passions are enjoyable and consuming—what are your passions? A couple weeks ago I said that every gift can be used for God. Every passion can be channeled for God too. What do you love to do? Use it for God!
Let’s take a couple minutes and write down what you love to do. It could be a specific task or ability: I like to play golf. How can I do that for the glory of God?
ILL: My oldest son told me that he loves to sit in coffee shops and visit people. He thinks that passion fits him to be a “café conversationalist.” I told him that he might need to do something else to put food on the table. For that, he plans to be “master of the universe.”
A passion could be an activity you love, an interest you have, a cause or concern that you care about.
I love junior high school students.
I love fixing things.
I love starting things.
I care about the poor.
I enjoy listening to others.
I love cars.
I love history.
I love politics.
I love reading.
It could be anything—anything that you love to do, enjoy, find fulfilling or motivating. Let’s take a couple minutes and write them down. Now let’s hear some of your passions.
Here’s the question. How can you use that passion for the glory of God? How can you use that for God? Think out loud with people.
ILL: Stan Busby has a passion for climbing: rock climbing, ice climbing, mountain climbing. And he loves Jesus. So he started “Climbers for Christ”, a non-profit organization that provides outdoor recreational activities with a spiritual emphasis.
Rick Noll has a passion for photography. He loves to take pictures. Recently he started a Life Group for photographers here at Life Center. And he is a member of a community photography club for the purpose of building relationships and sharing his faith.
A number of local Christian doctors and nurses have a passion for the poor so they serve every week at the Christ Clinic, which provides medical care for those who can’t afford it.
Millard Fuller had a passion for the homeless so he started Habitat for Humanity with a goal of providing decent housing for everyone. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers have helped to build thousands of Habitat homes all over the world.
What are your passions, and how can God use them? He made you to do something, and gave you the desire to do it.
2. Leverage your personality.
Live your passions and leverage your personality. No two people are identical. You are different physically; for example, each of you has a unique thumbprint. And you are different personally—each of you has a unique personality.
ILL: Somebody wrote this: “I was watching Geraldo. He had a guest who had 79 different personalities. I thought that was wild because I work with people who don’t even have one.”
Everyone has a personality! Your personality is a unique combination of different traits. Thousands of different personality traits have been identified, which makes the combinations almost infinite. Each of you has a complex combination of those traits, and your combination is unique. Your personality is like your thumbprint: one of a kind.
Your personality influences every area of your life. It influences every decision you make, how you deal with change, how you solve problems, what makes you happy or sad, and what you think is funny. It helps to determine what kind of work you should do, the kind of person you should marry, and the kind of ministry God wants you to have. Your personality influences how you relate to God.
ILL: This book, Sacred Pathways, by Gary Thomas, examines nine different pathways people take to God. Some people get close to God outdoors, in nature. Others do it through ritual and symbol and liturgy. Some find God in study, using their minds, and others find God in activity, through serving. Some people get close to God worshiping together, and others by getting alone and being quiet. We’re all different. The ways that I draw close to God may not work for you.
Just like our personality affects how we relate to people, it also affects how we relate to God.
So we’re all different! Your unique personality is part of the way God designed and created you. Your personality matches the dream that God has for you. God made you to do something, and your personality is part of His design—it will match what He wants you to do.
ILL: Would you please write your name on the top of your outline? Now underneath it, write your name again, but this time use your other hand. What was that like? It didn’t feel natural, did it? I’ll bet you felt uncomfortable, that it took extra time and effort, and that even with extra time and effort, you did a lousy job!
That’s what happens when we ignore our design and try to do things that don’t match our personality. It feels uncomfortable, unnatural; it takes extra time and effort to do it; and even with the extra time and effort, we don’t do a great job. We’re like square pegs trying to fit into a round hole.
But when we do what we were made to do, when it matches our personality, it just fits. “I was made for this.”
On your outline, I’ve listed a few pairs of opposite personality traits. Let’s go through the list, and you circle the one out of each pair that best describes you.
Introvert/extrovert. This is not about whether or not you like people. Both introverts and extroverts like people. My wife is an introvert, and she loves people. But introverts are drained by being around too many, and are energized and replenished by being alone. Extroverts are energized and replenished by being with people. Marry an introvert and extrovert and guess what happens on Friday night? The extrovert is looking for a party; the introvert wants to curl up at home. How many of you are you an introvert, an extrovert? How many don’t know what kind of vert you are?
Thinking/intuitive. This doesn’t mean that you’re all one or the other—that if you’re a thinker you have no intuition or if you’re intuitive you never think! We all do both, but we each have a preference. Do you tend to make decisions by carefully gathering the facts, weighing the evidence, and making a logical decision? Or do you make decisions more by feeling or intuition—you just sense what is right or best? Sometimes your language even expresses this: “I think this is best,” or “I feel this is best.” How many prefer thinking? How many prefer intuition? How many can’t decide?
Routine/variety. Some of you work best in a highly structured environment with predictable routine. You can be highly productive when you know what to expect—it’s the same every time. Give me routine! Others of you would go crazy in that environment. Boring! Give me variety! You need every day to be different. You like things that are new, and you’re at your best when facing a new and different challenge. Routine: you go to a restaurant and order the same thing. Variety: you try something new just for the fun of it. How many of you prefer routine? Variety?
Controlled/expressive. Some people are very open about what they think and how they feel; we say that they wear their feelings on their sleeve. You don’t wonder what they’re thinking or feeling—they express it, loud and clear. They’re expressive—let it all hang out! Other people are very controlled; we say that they play their cards close to the vest. They don’t like everyone to know what they’re thinking or feeling; they are more selective in who they open up to, and what they share. How many of you are more controlled? More expressive?
Cooperative/competitive. My wife is a great runner but she dropped out of track in high school. Do you know why? She didn’t like the competition. It made her stomach tight. She’s more cooperative—let’s all do it together and help each other along the way. I just want to beat your brains out. I’m very competitive. Let’s turn everything into a game…where I win! It’s more fun if there’s a goal or a prize at the end! How many are cooperative? Competitive?
Relational/task. A task-oriented person is more focused on the job at hand, and not so worried about relationships. “Why don’t they quit whining and just do their job?” he asks. This person may get a lot done, and leave a wake of hurt and frustrated people behind. A relationally-oriented person focuses first on the persons, not the task. The highest goal isn’t getting the task done, but making sure that everyone is happy. How many of you are relational? Task oriented?
Big picture/detail. The big picture person has a low preference for details. You like the big idea—just give me the big picture and skip all the small stuff. Details drive you nuts. The detail person has a high preference for detail. You love the details. My wife is a detail person and I’m big picture, and she saves my bacon all the time. If we’re going somewhere, I’m out the door. “Let’s go. Let’s get there! That’s the goal.” She’s tending to the details: are the doors locked, can the animals get in and out of the garage, have the kids been fed…little things like that. How many of you are big picture people—don’t sweat the details? Detail people?
Spontaneity/planning. It’s summer vacation time. How many of you would say that your idea of a great vacation is just go somewhere and let it happen? Spontaneity—the unplanned, the unexpected is an adventure. It’s fun! Woohoo! How many of you would say that sounds like a nightmare, not a vacation? Your preference is to plan it out: where you’ll stay, where you’ll eat, what you’ll do—all planned. No surprises please. Ok, we already know who is who on this one!
Saving/spending. I’m almost afraid to ask. Some people prefer to save and others prefer to spend. Simple test: if you received an unexpected windfall of $1000, how many of you would save it? Spend it? Give it all to the Lord! Hallelujah!
Talking/quiet. Here’s a fun one. Some people love to talk, and others not so much. We might say of one person, “He’s a man of few words,” and of another, “You can’t get a word in edgewise.” Simply put, some people are very verbal and others aren’t. Which are you? Talking? Quiet? And how many of you are married to the opposite? Good!
Easy going/driven. You’ve heard me say that my oldest son, Andy, has a gift with people. Part of that gift is that he is so easy going. Nothing ruffles him. We’ve always said that Andy will never have ulcers. He’s a hard worker, but he’s easy going, he’s got the spirit of relax. His poor dad is a driven man—push, push, push. Go, go, go. More, more, more. Sick, sick, sick. Nah…I could be sick if I weren’t so stinking balanced! Which way do you lean: easy going? Or driven?
Future/present. Some people live in the future. They are always thinking about the next thing: the next meeting, the next goal, the next task. They tend to be very goal oriented. They don’t remember stuff that happened yesterday because that’s past and they’re already looking forward. Others live more in the present. They aren’t so goal oriented, and tend to live more in the moment. They remember the past better because they actually lived it, instead of just skimming across it to get to the next thing. Future? Present?
There are a dozen pairs of contrasting traits. There are hundreds, probably thousands of personality traits, and we all have them in varying combinations and strengths. God has wired your personality to match your calling. When you do what you were made to do, it fits you like a glove.
If you want to explore this further, our Servenet seminar offers some personality inventories that can help you learn more about yourself.