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Sermon Illustrations on Passion

Background

The Problem with Passion Guiding You

The problem with making your passion the thing that guides you is that passion can trick you into avoiding tasks that maybe aren’t fun but that are absolutely vital to get you to where you need to be. It is important to remember that God can develop your life in different settings. I hear people opt out of opportunities by saying, “I just don’t feel a passion for that.” While we pursue the vision on our heart, there are a lot of things we are called to do that don’t seem terribly exciting but are absolutely vital in getting us to where we need to go. 

It’s amazing how many believers disqualify themselves and stunt their growth because they don’t just do what’s in front of them. Do what’s in front of you, and do it well. As the Bible says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10) and “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). If you’re delivering pizzas, be the best pizza-delivery person on the planet. If you’re answering phones, do it with everything in you. Stay current with the Lord and with whatever assignment He has given you.

Banning Liebscher, Rooted: The Hidden Places Where God Develops You, WaterBrook, 2016.

Stories

The Embodiment of their Hopes

I have been reading Julian Jackson’s biography of Charles de Gaulle — it’s exceptional, so far — and I find myself meditating on a story Jackson tells near the beginning of the book. In June of 1940, which Marshal Petain announced that France had fallen, de Gaulle started making broadcasts from London insisting that France had not been defeated and there was still hope. Quickly he became the focus of hope for the French resistance…but nobody knew who he was. They weren’t sure what his name was or how he spelled it. One resister, an art historian named Agnès Humbert, wrote:

How bizarre it all is! Here we are, most of us on the wrong side of forty, careering along like students all fired up with passion and fervour, in the wake of a leader of whom we know absolutely nothing, of whom none of us has even seen a photograph. In the whole course of human history, has there ever been anything quite like it?

These resisters of the Nazi conquest didn’t know the first thing about de Gaulle, but he became the focus of their determination, the embodiment of their hopes. In light of this I’m inclined to reassess a famous statement of Churchill’s, which I had always thought false modesty: “It was a nation and race dwelling all around the globe that had the lion heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.” Which of course probably was false modesty; but it also may well have been a true statement.

Alan Jacobs, Snakes & Ladders (Newsletter), October 18, 2021.

Finding Your Blue Flame

I had just started dating my husband, Joe, when I met international speaker and bestselling author Keith Ferrazzi. He was a friend of Joe’s and would go on to become a good friend of mine, as well as being the officiant at our wedding, but on this day he was an intimidating public figure. I wanted to impress him with my wit and conviviality, so when he mentioned that he was on his way to Renaissance Weekend, I responded enthusiastically. “Forsooth!” I exclaimed. “Ye shall buye passage on a skye shippe and make merriment and drinke ale!”

When I asked what costume he was going to wear, he just smiled at me in polite confusion. Finally, Joe leaned over to explain that Keith was talking about Renaissance Weekend, an exclusive global strategy retreat for top leaders in business and politics. I was thinking of a Renaissance festival, where people dress up like pirates and wenches and eat funnel cake.

I’ve always been glad Keith didn’t get up and slowly back away from the crazy woman, because it was later in that same conversation that he introduced me to the concept that changed the way I see the world. He spoke about how grateful he was for his life.

He ran a successful business where he genuinely believed in the work he was doing. World leaders sought his expertise. He traveled internationally. He had a diverse network of friends and colleagues who inspired him daily. He got most excited when he spoke of how he honestly felt like he was having a positive impact on the world, and that’s what really mattered to him.

The more we talked, the more I realized what an unusual conversation this was. When you ask people how their lives are going, usually they look weary. They sigh. They talk about how they wish their situations were different. Then, in the end, they shrug and say it’s fine and change the subject. Not Keith.

He glowed when he talked about his life. “What’s your secret?” I asked. His answer would change my life: “I found my blue flame.” I loved this term. I’d heard it used before, but never with the kind of passion with which Keith talked about it. Something about his explanation made it click for me. I listened eagerly as he said that different people define it different ways, but he thought of a blue flame as your unique way to give back to others. It’s a passion that has been instilled in you that makes the world a better place when you use it. I went home that night lost in that concept. I wondered what my blue flame was, and I felt like it just might change everything if I could ever find it.

 Jennifer Fulwiler, Your Blue Flame: Drop the Guilt and Do What Makes You Come Alive, Zondervan, 2020.

“FIRE” 

We must journey to the edge of heat if we would catch the flame. When Blaise Pascal died in 1662, his servant found a scrap of paper hidden in the lining of his coat. It turned out to be a testimony of something that had happened eight years earlier: “From about half past ten in the evening until about half past twelve FIRE…

Whatever happened to him that Monday night, “FIRE” was all Pascal could say about it. For two whole hours, nothing but fire. Not the fire of philosphers and scholars but the fire of God. And when the fire has burned through us, our passion is the evidence that we are aflame with significance.

Calvin Miller, The Sermon Maker: Tales of a Transformed Preacher, Harper Collins Publishers, p.34

Analogies

Is it a Note Worth Playing?

I’ve never really played a single note in my life.

For 8 years I played the clarinet growing up. Actually, that’s not true. I took lessons but I’m not sure I actually played the clarinet. I went to hear Michael Tilson Thomas perform with the symphony orchestra. There was a clarinetist playing solo. The first few notes were the middle C, the easiest note, the first note they teach you. I realized listening to that that I had never actually played the clarinet.

I had never once in my entire life played a single note that sounded like that note did. But all the years I was taking lessons -no one sat me down & said none of this matters. None of the notes in the songs and all that stuff we keep piling on for you to do matters if you can’t play a single note that people actually want to hear. I spent a lot of time thinking about this. Why was it? Part of it was that I didn’t care enough. I didn’t care enough to put myself into in a way that would touch another person. The question we must ask is: Will you choose to actually make music?

Seth Godin, Ted Talk 2014: Is it a Note Worth Playing?

Humor

Finding Your Blue Flame

I had just started dating my husband, Joe, when I met international speaker and bestselling author Keith Ferrazzi. He was a friend of Joe’s and would go on to become a good friend of mine, as well as being the officiant at our wedding, but on this day he was an intimidating public figure. I wanted to impress him with my wit and conviviality, so when he mentioned that he was on his way to Renaissance Weekend, I responded enthusiastically. “Forsooth!” I exclaimed. “Ye shall buye passage on a skye shippe and make merriment and drinke ale!”

When I asked what costume he was going to wear, he just smiled at me in polite confusion. Finally, Joe leaned over to explain that Keith was talking about Renaissance Weekend, an exclusive global strategy retreat for top leaders in business and politics. I was thinking of a Renaissance festival, where people dress up like pirates and wenches and eat funnel cake.

I’ve always been glad Keith didn’t get up and slowly back away from the crazy woman, because it was later in that same conversation that he introduced me to the concept that changed the way I see the world. He spoke about how grateful he was for his life.

He ran a successful business where he genuinely believed in the work he was doing. World leaders sought his expertise. He traveled internationally. He had a diverse network of friends and colleagues who inspired him daily. He got most excited when he spoke of how he honestly felt like he was having a positive impact on the world, and that’s what really mattered to him.

The more we talked, the more I realized what an unusual conversation this was. When you ask people how their lives are going, usually they look weary. They sigh. They talk about how they wish their situations were different. Then, in the end, they shrug and say it’s fine and change the subject. Not Keith.

He glowed when he talked about his life. “What’s your secret?” I asked. His answer would change my life: “I found my blue flame.” I loved this term. I’d heard it used before, but never with the kind of passion with which Keith talked about it. Something about his explanation made it click for me. I listened eagerly as he said that different people define it different ways, but he thought of a blue flame as your unique way to give back to others. It’s a passion that has been instilled in you that makes the world a better place when you use it. I went home that night lost in that concept. I wondered what my blue flame was, and I felt like it just might change everything if I could ever find it.

 Jennifer Fulwiler, Your Blue Flame: Drop the Guilt and Do What Makes You Come Alive, Zondervan, 2020.

More Resources

Related Themes

Click a topic below to explore more sermon illustrations! 

Curiosity

Desire

Dreams

Emotions

Hunger (Spiritual)

Longing

& Many More