Don’t (Just) Do What You Love

Chase your dreams.  Pursue your passion.  Get off your chair, out of your rut, out of your comfort zone and start doing something that will really make you happy.  Move beyond your limited, routine existence, and be extraordinary.  Not just a little happy, but really happy.

This is the message I’d been seeing all over the place a while ago – commercials on TV, filmmaking teaching videos on Vimeo, and more, I’m sure.  Images of people dancing, playing basketball, and playing the drums in the middle of a field are all telling me to do what I love!

A worthy message, for sure.  It’s just a matter of figuring out what I love. 

There are lots of things I’d love to do.  I’d love to write and publish my writing beyond this blog.  I’d love to make money from my writing.  (I’d love to find a way to monetize all my hobbies, in fact.)  I’d love to sell a comic story to a publishing company and see it come to life (I have a great idea about…but that’s not for here, I guess).  I’d love to travel on a cruise ship to Antarctica.  I’d love to go to the New York Comic-Con…every year.  I’d love to create a couple of games I have in mind.  I’d love to do a lot of stuff.

But the problem here is that I think I’m kind of lazy.  Most of the time, if I try to think of how I’d like to spend my day, if I really didn’t have any other responsibilities to attend to or obligations to take care of, what I’d really love to do is watch TV and read comic books.  That’s it.

I want to watch all five seasons of Fringe and see what that’s all about.  I’d like to re-watch Quantum Leap.  I’d like to finish watching The Newsroom – I’ve seen a couple of episodes recently and liked the look of it.  I’d like to finish listening to all the other Doctor Who audios from Big Finish.  And then I’d probably like to blog about them.

Is that what all those commercials and positive motivational messages are trying to get me to do?  Watch more TV and read more comics?  Really?

But you know, though I enjoy the comics and the movies and such, that’s not how I actually spend my day.  Most of the time, I’m doing other things.  Maybe that’s why I so often feel like indulging my viewing / reading urges, because the opportunities are often rarer than I’d prefer.

Instead, I’m following a different mantra than I’ve been hearing.  I’m not trying to just do what I love.  Rather, I’m trying, as best I know how, to do what really matters.  Or to put it another way, to do what is important.

See, I’d love to go to Antarctica, and I hold onto to the hope that maybe someday this will be possible.  But right now, it’s not.  It could easily cost around $20,000, but the real issue is not that I don’t have the money, but that there are so many other things that are so much more important to spend it on.  Food and housing are the obvious ones.  But there’s also items for the home, birthday parties for my children, trips back to the United States so that I can connect to friends, and so my children can connect to their grandparents.

The same is true of my time.  I find moments to blog, to watch TV, and to be creative (I’m making a movie right now that documents its own creation – something which is certainly not “important” in any sense of the word) but most of my time is spent doing what I think really matters, what I’m called to do.  And as I focus my time and resources, my heart follows and adjusts around that calling

I am a Christian and for me, it’s a calling to missions.  It’s a calling to know Jesus and to serve the people that he’s called me to, including my family.  It’s a calling to make Jesus known to those who don’t know him.  This doesn’t mean convincing them of my point of view or converting them to tenants of my religion.  Rather it’s allowing people to see that our loving creator is real and that our greatest fulfillment is found in relationship with him – a relationship he desires so much that he has gone to extraordinary lengths to make it possible.

Sure, I do this because it’s exciting and it gives me joy and so on, but really it all started because I knew it was right.  I knew it was important.  I knew it really mattered.

That doesn’t mean those “Live your dream” messages are irrelevant.  For sure I can use a bit of a kick in the pants every once in a while to get moving.  I’m just thinking that maybe that’s not the whole story.

So maybe chasing your dream is important, but maybe it isn’t.  Maybe your dream isn’t all that big a deal, at least compared to God’s dream for your life.  Maybe he wants to work through the dream that you’ve got, but often those dreams are too small.  They miss out on the full scope of how our lives can be forged by God into blessings for the world and carriers of his glory.  Many times I have been challenged to think bigger, to see how what I was doing (or not doing) could be expanded and developed into something more significant.  Sometimes this has meant a greater realization of my dreams, and other times it’s meant discovering dreams I didn’t know I had.

And sometimes it’s meant forgetting about my dreams, at least to some degree, because I’ve simply realized that something else was more important.  As I’ve gone along, I’ve seen with greater clarity that there are a lot of things in this world that are really important to God, and therefore they should also be to me.

If’ I’m a Christian, shouldn’t I care about the fact that so many people don’t have clean water?  Or that many don’t have Bibles?  Or that they’re persecuted?  Or enslaved?  Or oppressed?  Or isolated?  Or exploited?  Or uneducated?  Or uncared for?

Sure I should.  Because God cares.  The Bible says that he loved the world so much that he was willing to sacrifice everything for people to know him.  That means that I should love the world like that too.  I should love the world so much that I’d be willing to sacrifice everything so that people could know their Creator. I’m still learning to walk this out, but I should allow these things to shape the direction of my life.

When we pray, “Your Kingdom come,” that is what we’re talking about.  These things really matter, and they are worth spending our lives on.  Even if we’re not sure if we’re really “passionate” about it.  Because if we start seeing things the way that God does, than we will be.

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