I had the opportunity to speak to about 45-50 high school kids at a retreat a few weekends ago.
It’s been a long while since I’ve been in an environment like that. Once upon a time, into my late twenties, I spent 10 years in youth ministry with my local church’s youth group.
To add to my sense of nostalgia, it was hosted at a retreat center where I spent many formative years myself attending youth retreats and camps. It’s a place of life change for me. Although the grounds and buildings have been updated, I can still reminisce at every turn.
My topic for this informal talk was was “Passion and Purpose”.
I opened by asking a few questions.
“How many of you know what they were passionate about?”
Lots of hands went up with answers like - dancing, photography, sports, baking, fixing things, and so on.
“How many of you aren’t sure” A few hand shot up.
“How many of you wish I would stop asking people to raise their hands?” A brave snarky few raised their hands. “You, my friends”, I countered, “might just have the gift of critical thinking.”
When I asked how many people knew their purpose, two hands went up. And I’d say that’s probably pretty spot on. Purpose is more slippery especially in our high school years. After all, we're still trying to figure out who we are. (Let’s be honest, many adults are still wrestling with these issues as well.)
So many times students hear the word potential.
“You have potential to be great at this. Keep it up.”
“One day, you’ll be a force to be reckoned with.”
But my challenge to them on this day was to identify something they considered a passion, and pair it with helping someone. Forget someday potential. You can do something TODAY. RIght where you are, with what you have.
Passionate about baking? Perhaps there’s a family near you that can’t even begin to think about food due to a new baby, or an illness in the family that keeps them busy with hospital visits.
Passionate about fixing things? Find that elderly neighbor who might need assistance with some household items that need fixing.
When we our passions collide with serving people, bringing them value, we can find a greater purpose. We get to use our gifts and talents, and other people get to be blessed by them. Everyone wins.
The thing is, it takes intentionality. We have to look beyond our own issues, hangups, hurts – all the self-centered things that can keep us preoccupied so that we don’t even notice the needs of those around us, let alone try to creatively serve them.
My hope is that if even a few of those students walked out of there with a different perspective, perhaps there could be a huge impact on their lives, and the ones they serve. A ripple effect of passion and purpose.
What about you? What are you passionate about? Do you have a sense of purpose?
Are there things that are causing you to not see the needs of the people around you? Who could you serve with your talents and passions?