Incarnational Passion and the Kaleo Life

Those who know me know that I am a passionate individual and believe we ought to be doers, leading from postures of passionate conviction.  This website was birthed from this conviction.  Yet three movements in my life converged this past week to lead me to ask these questions:  is this ‘Incarnational Passion’ available for everyone? Is it even biblical?

First, this past week I have been approached by two different and unrelated individuals asking that I consider teaching on the Seven Churches of Revelation.  Hmmm.  The letter of Revelation has always fascinated me since I was a kid because it has such fantastical imagery with a foreboding message – the end of the world as we know it.  But it is one thing to fantasize and speculate about the world’s destruction and the ‘the Mark of the Beast’ and the identity of the ‘10-horned-7-headed Beast’ whose rider is a female ‘Prostitute’ but it is another thing all-together to honestly and objectively teach through this image-driven letter.  What should I do?  I promptly set about studying Revelation with fresh eyes and renewed vigor and have been reflecting upon Revelation 2 since last Sunday.  My take-away thus far?  God is more concerned with my long-term love than my ministry stardom. It takes rigor and discipline to fuel long-term love.  Ask anyone who’s been married for more than 20 years!

This past week my small group started the “Experiencing God” study by Henry & Richard Blackaby in which we’re told at the beginning of the study that the question “what’s God’s will for my life” is the wrong question to ask.  The right question is “What is God’s will” and then “make the adjustments necessary in my life to align with what God is doing.”  My take-away?  God is more interested in my love, devotion and faithfulness than in blessing my plans.

And finally, I read Luke 2:52 which says that “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”  This is one of the only times we get a glimpse into the early life of Jesus while he was on earth.  Often when we think of Jesus we think (and read) about his very effective and dynamic ministry years.  But those years, which ended in his death on a cross, lasted only 3 years.  3 years.  That’s it.  I think the average passionate person could manufacture a semblance of passion for 3 years.  But what we forget is that these 3 years were built upon a lifetime of character development – 30 years of growing in wisdom and stature with at least 18 of those years (the span between Luke 2:52 and Luke 3:23) done in obscurity.  Wisdom and stature development are not for the faint of heart.  They take time and come only with discipline and experience.  My take-away?  Personal growth and maturity actually demand sustained passion. 

This convergence in my life this past week as reaffirmed my belief that ‘Incarnational Passion’, the Kaleo Life, is biblical and is for everyone but that our action emanates from our character and conviction. 

So how do we build our character and live disciplined lives without losing our passion? Do we have to deny our desire to make a difference or leaving a legacy and resign to flippantly say ‘let go and let God’? Which has always seemed like a cop-out to me. 

Well, what I’m about to share is by no means the only way, but it is helping me right now.  I’ve taken and administered numerous Motivated Abilities Pattern (MAP) Assessments, and Passion Profiles, and Spiritual Gift Inventories and they all boil down to this: alignment.

Passion flows from a picture, an end-result pictured in your mind. When the end is clearly seen and firmly fixed in our mind and heart it provides the resilience we need.  I think even those who say ‘all we need to be is faithful’ or ‘obedient’ have an end-result picture in their mind which sustains them.  I think if you probed far enough that picture might be something like standing before God and hearing him say “well done”.  That is a powerful picture.

My personal picture is similar.  I want to stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and hear ‘well done’ but I imagine him saying that to a guy who expended every ounce of his energy developing every talent and gift he had been given to its zenith while leading others to do the same so they too may hear the Lord’s commendation.

And with the picture firmly rooted, every choice and decision is weighed as to its development or distraction potential in furthering this passion.  That’s called alignment.   The Kaleo Life begins with Passion.  Not sure what you’re Passion is, why not try this little Passion-Finder Matrix developed by Steve Moore.  

Passion Finder Matrix

  Interest-based Passions
 (activities I like)
Issue-based Passions
(causes I care about)
I have or want to Learn more about…    
I have or want to Participate in…    
I have or want to Recruit others for…    
I have or am willing to Pay a price to pursue…    

You’ll quickly see you need to: 
1. Understand the difference between interest-based passions and issue-based passions. People engage in interest-based passions because they are fun; they give us a source of pleasure. Some people like golf, others tennis, still others painting, etc. These are leisure activities.

People pursue issue-based passions because they provide a measure of fulfillment; they give us a sense of purpose. Some people care about the environment, others homelessness, still others leadership. These are causes that allow us to leave a legacy.

Everyone has both interest and issue-based passions. Leaders who have no room for leisure put their legacy at risk over the long haul. Interest- based passions are often connected with activities and therefore flow from the combination of an interest and a natural ability or acquired skill. We tend to like things we are “good at” and are good at things “we like.”

Issue-based passions are often associated with causes and therefore tend to emerge from experiences. People who are passionate about the urban poor can usually point to some formative experience where the needs of inner city people were imprinted on their heart.

Consider making a list of the interests and issues in your life that fit each of the four qualifying statements.

2. Look for ways to blend the threads of interest-based and issue-based passion together to form an Incarnational Passion. Take for example a person who has musical interests, plays the guitar and sings. If this person had a corresponding issue-based passion of worship, it would make sense to weave these threads together as a worship leader in what I call an Incarnational Passion, that is lived out in real life situations or roles. On the contrary, if this same person had issue-based passions like evangelism or culture transformation, he or she might pursue a very different Incarnational Passion as a mainstream musician.

The more of these two tracks of your Passion Profile you can naturally weave together, the stronger your inner motivation to live out the Incarnational Passion. In turn, you will be more effective when recruiting others to join you, and better prepared to pay an even bigger price to remain true to the cause.

 One Final Word
The passion of Jesus is linked to his suffering and death. The ultimate test of passion is what price we are willing to pay to pursue it? In this sense, we are in danger of producing a generation of passion-less leaders, if they are not prepared to suffer, yes even die for a God-inspired cause.

What are you passionate about?
What price will you pay to pursue it?  

If you know or if you’re at the beginning of your journey to discovering it, we’d love to hear from you!

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