I had a pastor in Los Angeles who was known to say, “Love God, love people, do what you want.”
He meant that if you’re truly seeking after God, loving people around you, you’re probably going to be aiming in the right directions with the gifts and passions He’s given you. A lot of people stress out, feeling like they need to find a way to use their passions in traditional ministry. This is a great place to start, but be open to looking further.
Here are five tips to help you use your passion to serve God.
1. Find your passions.
How do you find the causes or activities that you’re passionate about?
First, look to the things that make you come alive. What are the activities that you feel like you could do forever? What are you doing when you lose track of time? What do you naturally excel at and enjoy greatly? Jot these down in your journal—they might point to your passions.
Second, look to the things that get your blood boiling. Anger is not always a bad emotion; in fact, I think God really uses it to get our attention sometimes. Does it make you angry to hear that kids are forced to be child soldiers in Africa? Do you want to yell in the streets about human trafficking or the rights of those with disabilities? The injustices that get to you might also lead to your passions.
2. Find your mentors.
When you’ve found that thing that you love to do or the cause you live to advocate for, you need to learn more about it. Mentoring can happen in many ways. If you’re passionate about a certain cause, find someone who’s already working in that area and ask to volunteer or shadow that person for a day.
Mentors can also be people you don’t know or even people who have already passed away. When I figured out that I wanted to shape my life around overseas mission, I read every book I could find by other women who had gone before me. Amy Carmichael and Elisabeth Eliot became my mentors, even though I’d never meet them.
3. Find your tribe.
There really is strength in numbers. Your tribe is made up of those who love what you love and get angry about what you get angry about. These are your people. Join ministry or interest groups at your school or your church. If they don’t exist, start them—if you’re passionate about something, you’ll draw others who share your passion. Check out groups, conferences or meetups in your city or area so that you can meet others who are interested in similar things.
4. Find your outlets.
If you’re in high school, college or just beyond, find an internship where you can use your education to meet a need. You don’t have to take a corporate internship to “get ahead.” Use your marketing degree to help a local nonprofit. Apply for internships at companies like TOMS if you like fashion design, or even at the United Nations if you want to work to change policies around the world.
Volunteering is a great option if you don’t have time for an internship. If you love mentoring those younger than you, offer to help a youth pastor you know by leading a small group once a week. Use your artistic passion to teach crafts or painting to women at a domestic abuse shelter once a month. Even if you can only give a little time, that time will be valued.
5. Find your place.
If you’re going through the steps above, you’ll likely have a ton of opportunities in your lap to use your passion in some world-changing ways. It can be overwhelming to figure out the next step when you’ve got so many options. Ask those who know you well to help you sort through it all. Share your possibilities and ask, “Does this sound like a good fit?”
We serve a very creative God who can and will work through you in a variety of ways throughout your lifetime. Your passions may change, but when your heart is seeking after God and loving people, you can know that you’re right on target. Be open, be curious, be flexible and be ready to serve.