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Exuberance…Meet Passion and Enthusiasm

One of my prayers is that my passion and enthusiasm intensify as time passes. I think often the opposite happens to people.  The older the get, the less passionate and enthusiastic they become. Tonight, I was in a room with 1400 teens at Big Stuf. Listening to them worship with Steve Fee and hear Jared Herd speak inspired me, deeply.  It reminded me how easy it is to be passionate and enthusiastic when you’re young.

Passion and enthusiasm are interesting words, though.  Sometimes it’s easy to confuse exuberance with passion or enthusiasm. 

I got thinking about passion and enthusiasm in a way that made me smile tonight.  The word "passion" comes from a root word meaning "suffering" (as in the passion of Christ).  And "enthusiasm" actually means "filled with God".  Exuberance…well, it means to be lighthearted and cheery.

I think a lot of us get weighed down in our journey with Jesus because initial exuberance gets erased by the reality of life…even by suffering.  Funny, then, that two of the words that describe the qualities many of us aspire to have (passion and enthusiasm) spring from both suffering and the presence of God, not mood or circumstances. 

What life issues have dampened your passion, or when did you feel less than enthusiastic?  Maybe the challenge for all of us is to take our brokenness and discouragement to God and ask him to fill it. Somehow, passion that springs from suffering carries more compassion and resonance than passion that does not, and enthusiasm simply means to have the presence of God fill you.  I saw that in Jared tonight, and I imagined what it might be like to have 1400 kids step into the future fully alive in the reality of God’s presence even in suffering.

Here’s to a passionate, enthusiastic next generation. 


  1. Carey Nieuwhof on July 18, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Sounds like wisdom to me Bill! Thanks for the comments.

  2. Bill Laxton on July 18, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Exhuberance is not something that I live with with any consistency. When I reflect on any recent experiences in that state of being, it often has to do with something that initially occurs in my heart as a response to something that God has called to my attention. This is what inspires my enthusiasm for God's call on my heart.

    Enthusiasm energizes me into action…however at 45, I am often calling that enthusiasm into question. More and more I will measure it against God's word and revelation. I hope that this is the beginning of wisdom – at any rate, once I have discerned God's will and direction I will whole heartedly engage whatever action seems best for following God's will. The fuel that He provides is what I call passion.

    My passion has become distinct from my enthusiasm and exhuberance. It is what gets me out of bed at 5:15am on Sunday to help with the Barrie eteam, go to my job and (when I am blessed with success) extend love and grace to others when it is most needed.

    I need to be clear here; I have no great story to tell or example to offer, only my limited experience as an imperfect man trying to follow what I believe is God's will for my life. And I hope with all my heart that this is something that helps others who are following God's call on their lives.

    In short, I do not often feel like jumping up and down for joy in response to what God may call me to do, but I do know that the passion that fuels the long burning flame in my heart is what keeps me working for and with God, and is a result of my relationship with God, who loves me and helps me in all that I do.

    May God fill each of you as He has filled me!

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