Finding the passion in one's sense of duty

Posted: Friday, September 26, 2008

Weren't the summer Olympics exciting? It is amazing what is possible for the human body to achieve when it is driven to what seems to be its limits.

One of the necessary sparks to bring together talent and training is passion. Passion is the spark plug that ignites the individual to achieve pinnacles of greatness.

It would be easy to compose something on the subject of what passion might inspire. Instead, I feel compelled to write about duty.

Duty and passion seem like opposite ends of the motivational spectrum but I would like to suggest that duty is a higher motivation than passion.

Passion is a motivation that burns within. Passion is something we love to do, we have no trouble expending energy or resources on. But passion is largely about us. Our passions are centered in our own desires, even if those passions produce good things.

Duty is about others. Being motivated by a sense of duty is to contribute to the good of others, even though it costs the one who is responding. Giving and doing for others takes a higher level of motivation than seeking to indulge our own passions.

I have heard some say that people should only serve in areas they are passionate about, because of the motivation that passion can inspire.

There is a glaring weakness in this philosophy. What about the things no one is passionate about?

When I was a new parent, I was passionate about many things with my children -- feeding, bathing and playing with them. I, however, was never passionate about changing diapers. I'm not passionate about taking out the trash, changing the oil in my car or a list of things that are necessary to quality of life and the good of the community. There are necessary things that all of us must do out of a sense of duty.

The truth is, the deeper liberties and freedoms we enjoy are secured by those who serve us out of a sense of duty. There are those who serve our country in dangerous places because they feel the motivation of duty. I can not imagine any soldier is passionate about dodging bullets or avoiding roadside bombs.

Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans that we are to live our lives with an ultimate sense of duty to God: Romans 12:1 (NKJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

There is a secret to being a living sacrifice that makes the difference in our successful fulfillment of the discharge of our duty. It is to love those that you are sacrificing for.

I make sacrifices for my family, doing things that do not benefit me because I love them. I do things that cost me personally in order to be a good neighbor because I love to live in a nice neighborhood. I do my duty to be a good citizen because I love the place where I live and the sense of safety and community I feel here. I take the time to vote and pay taxes to make my country the finest place to live in the world because I love my country.

So, a life of balance, pursuing our passions and participating in the duties of life make for a great life.

A life only bound up in duty would be without color or joy, a life spent only in passion would be selfish and incomplete.

Duty makes way for our passions, sacrifice sets us up for fulfillment. We need both to make contribution to a life for all to enjoy.

Stephen Brown is the reverend at Kenai New Life Assembly of God, 209 Princess Street, Kenai, AK 99611. For more information, call 283-7752.

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