“What? You can’t make an appointment with me! I’ve spent enough time with you people. You’ll have to try to make an appointment through the lottery system that your group has set up. I can’t meet with you,” said John Doe, a senior editor for a top Christian publishing company.
Fighting back tears, I humbly apologized and ran to the nearest bathroom to hide my state of shock.
Attending the Christian Booksellers Association annual convention was the opportunity of a lifetime. I had traveled across the country to California for one of the most prestigious publishing events of the year. Numerous celebrities were walking the halls of the huge convention floor where thousands tended to the business of selling Christian books. Excited attendees were making new friends while waiting in long lines to meet their favorite author and have newly-released books signed personally to them.
Since starting to write a book about living your life’s passion several years ago, attending the CBA was a natural step for me as for any aspiring Christian author. A chance to meet with editors and “pitch” my book excited me while at the same time it awakened the butterflies that felt more like bats in my stomach.
Being a driver type personality, I leaped head first into writing this book. Certain of the call from God, I had little doubt of my impending success. Piece of cake.
Call it naïve, call it gullible, call it just plain ignorance-but boy, was I wrong. It has been said that God works in mysterious ways, and I can attest. Mysterious was just the beginning of my confusion.
In preparation of writing a book on passion, I had interviewed several Christians who woke up daily certain of their own life’s purpose. Many of them were famous, and I had traveled the country to learn first hand of the successes and failures of those who were living their passion.
You could call it a moment of truth in that bathroom that day. Suddenly, my excitement was missing in action as I tried desperately to wipe the streams of black mascara from my carefully made up face before my next appointment in a brief 22 minutes. Somehow I had to recover from this mans harsh words. “Aren’t we all Christians here? Should there not be some common courtesy? Or is it just all business?”
Hidden in a bathroom stall, I asked the Lord. “OK, what is this all about? Isn’t this where I’m supposed to feel your presence? Aren’t I doing as you led? Help me understand what just happened.” Wiping the last tear and reapplying the make up, I left the bathroom hoping to rebound and prepare for the next meeting.
Often confusion moments lead to clarification. While writing this book I was sure I had thought of everything that related to living God’s purpose. I had covered many bases: how to have joy, how to triumph in trials, how to hear God’s voice, even how to understand your vision to name a few. But I had left out one very important component in living a life of purpose and passion. The only problem was I didn’t even know it.
Do you want to live a life of passion? One exuding with the confidence that God has equipped you for something so uniquely designed for you that only you could do it? You can and you should.
Through my tears and confusion, a life lesson happened right there on that convention floor. With dozens of people passing me by, I was receiving a truth so simple and so profound that in all my years of research and interviews I had overlooked it.
Compassion! If you want passion, you must start with compassion. I got it!
After all, Christ’s passion was compassion. The woman at the well. Mary Magdalene. Sick people oozing with sores. Prostitutes. Cheating tax collectors. You. Me.
The editor that screamed at me lacked compassion. Sure, he was there to conduct business and had every right to guard his time and establish boundaries. However, as Christians, there are some basic guidelines that cannot be compromised.
If we are to win the world for Christ as we have been commissioned, there is no excuse for overlooking each and every opportunity to show compassion. In our society of “I’m so busy how busy are you?” we must make time for basic Christianity 101.
When is the last time you had dinner with a sinner? How long has it been since you’ve shared your testimony of how Christ has made a difference in your life? Did you realize the last time someone asked you for directions that this was an opportunity to imitate Christ? Do the people under your authority (workplace/children) see your commitment to Christ through your responses to their questions? When did you last forgive someone for something they did or said that offended you? I could go on.
We pray for a life of fulfillment. We attend church to seek direction. However, our idea of seeking God is often asking for some sign that is so clear that our marching orders are clear.
Want passion? Start with compassion. Success almost always comes by mastering the basics. Realize that the people who are in your life are there for a reason. Christ never missed a chance to show compassion and this is our first call in life. Not when others deserve it, not when we feel like it, not when we have the time. Right in the moment, trusting God to use us in those powerful opportunities. That very day at CBA I had to let go of the editor’s behavior and forgive him as well as his company. I could not allow one incident to cause me to harbor anger or resentment.
This Christmas, make your Christmas list look a little different from years past. List the people that need your compassion, asking God to reveal to you those He would lay on your heart. Take time to listen more, offering something money can’t buy. A gift far more precious than one with beautiful wrapping sealed with a meticulous bow: the gift of compassion. In giving that most unique gift, you will be unwrapping the mystery of your own life. Your passion will become clear.