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The Greatest Motivator for Getting Past Passivity

April 20, 2020

Recently, I found this observation on the cycles of humans and nations.

Step 1 is moving from bondage to spiritual faith.
Step 2 is moving from spiritual faith to great courage.
Step 3 is moving from great courage to liberty.
Step 4 is moving from liberty to abundance.
Step 5 is moving from abundance to selfishness.
Step 6 is moving from selfishness to complacency.
Step 7 is moving from complacency to apathy.
Step 8 is moving from apathy to dependency.
Step 9 is moving from dependency to bondage.

And that is the epitaph of many a formerly great nation or person. 

If you observe this cycle, you will see there was a shift from constructive passion to destructive passivity that ultimately caused the downfall of the person or nation. The apathy or ‘whatever’ attitude in this cycle is what concerns me. When people start saying “whatever,” it is not a good sign.

What is passion? Webster’s defines passion as an emotion or feeling such as love, desire, anger, hate, fear, grief, joy, or hope that is of a compelling or powerful nature. Close to the word passion is the word zeal. Zeal is a firm or extravagant fondness, desire, or enthusiasm for anything. The word passion means ‘to suffer’ as in the Passion of Christ.

Passivity is not reacting visibly or outwardly to someone or something expected to produce manifestations of emotions or feelings. It implies inactivity. It is receiving, enduring, or submitting to something without resistance that is inappropriate. In Latin, it means to be carried away or be abnormally unresponsive. For example, Did you hear about the person who quit? No? No one else did either.

Passion can be right or wrong, constructive or destructive, directed or misdirected, depending on what the passion is about. The object of one's passion is what determines that. I love it when people are engaged or passionate about their nation, their future, their career, their community, their marriage, their church, their lives, their dreams and goals, and God. At least they are engaged, and that is good if our passion is within the guidelines of true biblical wisdom.

Sometimes we lose our passion because things did not turn out the way we wanted. Then, like the ballpoint on a retractable ballpoint pen, we retract into apathy or “whatever.” The excellent news is passion can be recovered again for most people. Real passion is a gift from God. It is part of being human. It is high octane; use it but use it wisely. Recovering your passion again can move you from bondage to spiritual faith.

Years ago, I attended a meeting with Pastor Bob Hake of Orangewood Church in Phoenix, Arizona. I noticed a poster in the church's board room. It was entitled 'Stir Me.' Here are the words on the sign:

“Stir me...surprise me...inspire me...include me...stretch me...convict me...save me...irritate me...challenge me...comfort me...ignite me...thrill me...move me...anger me...educate me...lift me...center me...scare me...involve me! Just don't leave me the way you found me when I walked through those doors.”

I cannot see any “whatever” in those statements, can you? Do you want to know a secret? When we live out of discipline, we are admired. When we live out of passion, we are contagious. Passion often is the best motivator for getting past passivity.

There was a leader in Bible days who was passionate about God and people at the same time. Look at this verse describing him. “For we have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up…” Acts 24:5. The leader was the Apostle Paul. He had a constructive God-given passion that either attracted or repelled people. He stirred things up. He was a Christian ‘pest’ that shifted people from anabolic to catabolic. His passion motivated ordinary people to be extraordinary and do the extraordinary. He moved their landscape.

Paul was a 'pest' to the folks that had a different agenda than God's plan. However, he was a God-given pest. Paul understood that passion is the fuel that puts the Word of God into action. He recognized that everything stays potential unless people apply passion. Paul knew that passion used for God’s purposes creates forward momentum. His experiences with other people revealed to him that half-hearted people produce half-hearted results that create a downward spiral into "whatever." Paul knew half-hearted people lose their vision, lose their courage, surrender to destructive habits and lifestyles, and generally become bench warmers in the game of life.

 So let's address passivity? Are you like Peter in the garden who feel asleep or like Jesus, interceding in the garden, who went on to change the world? It depends on your passion! We are designed by God to be passion-empowered agents of change, turning the world right-side up.

Aren't you glad that God didn't say "whatever" about us? God is passionate about His creation, which includes you and me. Let's get back in the game of life again. Surely the Lord has more for you than passivity!

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Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com