Pursuing your Righteous Path is not the same as pursuing your passion

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all that you learned.”

— St. Paul (Philippians 4.8-9)

My senior year of college, I took a history class at 3 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I enjoyed the class (Tudor-Stuart England), but it was difficult for me to stay focused since basketball practice started at 4 pm and the class did not end until 3:50 pm.

One day, I decided to leave class after about 15 minutes. As I walked out the door of Shaw Hall and turned in the direction of the basketball arena, I was startled by a well-known voice.

“Mark! What’s your passion?”IMG_1938

Startled, I snapped around to see Dr. Minor Myers, Jr., the President of the University walking towards me from the Quad. Dr. Myers was a big fan of the basketball team, but the only thing on my mind at that time was that I had just left class early and had been caught by the university President. After I realized that wasn’t a concern of his, I stammered for a moment and said, “Basketball and the Bible.”

He responded, “Well, I hope you do well and do good.”

Satisfied, he sped off to the administration building and I hustled through campus to get to basketball practice.

I’ve thought about that interaction many times through the years.

I was and am very passionate about the game of basketball. I love playing the game, but I’m too old (and out of shape) to try and play basketball to make either an impact in the lives of others or a profit from playing basketball.

Through the years, I have tried several times to make both of my passions into my job. I tried to play professional basketball and I almost left college to go to Seminary.

I once thought that my passion for basketball could be turned into a career path, so I ran basketball camps and tried coaching basketball. I was miserable. I forced it and, for many years, it actually hurt my love for the game.

Yet, each situation or stage of life has led me to the next. Maybe it’s better to say that every stage in life has prepared me for the next.

The Righteous Path is the pursuit of something genuine, pure, sincere, and honest. This is embodied in the surfer screaming “RIGHTEOUS!” on an epic wave. Yet, pursuing a Righteous Path is more than an epic wave. The Righteous Path is an epic story…your Righteous Path is your story.

Is it possible to use your passion to find your Righteous Path? Absolutely.

Is it possible that pursuing one’s passion is the same as pursing one’s Righteous Path? Yes. It’s possible.

Is it possible to pursue a passion and a Righteous Path at the same time, even thought they are different things? Absolutely.

Sometimes, however, things don’t work out, or at least the way we want them to. Just like an epic wave can lead to an epic wipe out, so can the pursuit of one’s Righteous Path lead to an epic crash, meltdown, or even a collapse.

But, just as the surfer gets back up on his board after an epic wipeout, business owners must get back up and keep pursuing that epic wave.

The other night, for the first time in many months, I went to the park to shoot hoops by myself. When I’m alone in the park or gym, I’ll dribble off an imaginary pick or fade off of an imaginary screen and I shoot the ball. And that shot – from the time the shot starts in my toes, through my release of the basketball, and until the ball splashes the net – feels so genuine, so pure, so sincere, and so honest that I start running to the other end of the court screaming “RIGHTEOUS!”

And yet, this is not my Righteous Path.

In order for something to be a Righteous Path it must have three components:

  1. Purpose – the pursuit of the calling to do what you are doing
  2. Passion – a love for and/or enjoyment of what you are doing
  3. Profit – can this activity not only provide sustainability but vitality

Personally, I believe that my purpose is to help other business owners understand, manage, protect, and grow their resources, of which their business is a big part of; I am passionate about making sure that business owners are given the resources they need; and yet, I’ve structured my business in such a way that I’m pursuing a profit in my business dealings and contracts. Otherwise, I won’t be able to provide my clients the services they desire for very long.

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