“Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets.”
– Nido Qubein
Severn Cullis-Suzuki was 12 years old when she spoke in front of the UN general assembly in Brazil. One headline described her as the “girl who silenced the world for five minutes”. She is believed to have really made an impact on our world leaders. She did not make this impact by talking about every issue very generally and not offering any reasons why one should care, she addressed her one passion: the environment. I believe that this is the reason that she was listened to. She was invited to speak because she had worked on this issue before and was able to logically plead with world leaders to help stop the destruction of the environment. She had so focused on this issue that, although she did not have all the solutions, she knew a lot about it and had worked enough on it that she had a platform to speak to the United Nations. Obviously, not everyone that focuses on their passion will have the same opportunity. However, this does illustrate how powerful focusing on one issue can be.
In order to successfully change something for good, you need to pick something to change. This doesn’t mean that you need to disregard all other problems in the world, but if you try and do everything, you will do nothing. To use a personal example, any one of my friends knows that I want to stop human trafficking. I annoyingly spout off statistics any time something remotely related to the topic comes up. I volunteer at places that are actively stopping slavery, donate money to charities that stop it internationally, and read about it consistently. Global poverty is just as important and terrible an issue as human trafficking, and the two issues are very connected, but I do not very often do anything positive to stop it. This is not because I do not care, but because I cannot do everything. Much the same way, you cannot do everything. Therefore, try and pick something that I like to call a passion.
Your passion should be something that makes you angry, that you cannot live another day knowing it happens (or is not happening)and you are not doing anything to stop it (or start it). You can pick a specific cause, for example Charity: Water, an abstract concept, such as stronger community in local churches, or a human rights violation, like wrongful imprisonment to be passionate about. What matters is not the passion that you pick, but that you care enough about it to carry out a plan to improve whatever you are passionate about. Also, the issue or cause you choose to focus on should follow the guidelines of the Bible.
Some of you may have immediately known what your passion is as soon as you read those words. The passion that you pick is not set in stone and you do not have to devote your life’s work to it if you decide to change your mind. However, it is an important item for you to know exactly what steps that you need to take in order to make changes. The passion that you pick is not set in stone and you do not have to devote your life’s work to it if you decide to change your mind. However, it is a guide for the next steps to take. While looking at the 27 million people trapped in slavery is overwhelming to say the least, it is not as overwhelming as looking at slavery, poverty, hunger, disease, violence, drought, education, and you name it all lumped together into one big pile of awful.
If you do not know immediately what your passion is, do not get discouraged. A couple of years ago, I had no idea what my passion should be or would become. Prayer is powerful. If you do not know what your passion will be, or even if you do, take a moment to pray about what God wants to use you for. Then, listen. God may use you for something you have not even heard of before. Prayer needs to be with you throughout this whole process because, as it says in Psalms, work done without God is pointless. Next, research different human rights violations and issues and see which one really sticks out to you. No one is like you, so no one can think about something the same way that you do. Once you find something that you are passionate about, you may want to talk to your social circle about that issue and get advice about if that is something that you should devote your time and energy to.
As you are choosing what your passion is, there are also some things that you should not do. Do not disregard a passion that God put into your heart because you think that it is too big or too small an issue for you. No matter what your passion is, if you truly focus on it and God has called you to it, you will change the world because of it. Also, as you are seeking advice, don’t let negative criticisms stop you from pursuing a passion all together. I know that my dad would rather me not do some of the volunteering that I do because it has the potential to be dangerous, but if you know that God has called you to do something, use wisdom and obedience, but still do it. Also, do not pick something as your passion because it is what your friends care about or what is popular in the news right now. Obviously, something being popular that you care about is a good thing, but don’t let that be why you choose a certain cause.
As we move along, our passions tend to not stay as strong and igniting as they are at first. It is important however, to have a focus. Therefore, if the word passion is true strong to describe your feelings about the issue you want to address, then try replacing the word passion with the word focus and all the same guidelines apply. Also, not everyone will find their passion right away, and that is alright. The important thing is to operate as though we are living our lives with one focus. Jessica Jacley, the founder of KIVA.org is a great example of this. KIVA has helped many, many people on the road out of poverty through microfinance loans. However, she was not always and is not only an anti-poverty activist. Jessica is also a yoga instructor and works on providing small business capital within the U.S.. All that to say, while you must find a passion, it does not need to be your only one.