We all have that one thing in our lives that fuels us, gives us energy or sets our hearts on fire. We have something that we are so passionate about that it drives us to be a better person, reach a goal or impact the lives of others. For some people that may be working out, for others it may be their career. But for me and so many other creatives, my passion is my photography business. I absolutely love every little detail about it, the good, the bad and the beautiful parts of it. This is the one thing that keeps me going. It provides me with so much joy and has been a solid foundation for me to remain rooted in the Lord. Although it has its challenges, I wouldn’t want anything else to fuel my passion.
As a business owner, there is always a mile long to do list. There are always areas in which I can learn and grow, and there will always be something that I can do to improve my client experience or create more efficient business processes. But where do we draw the line? When is too much too much? When do I begin to spend too much time focusing on growing my business that it is no longer glorifying to the Lord? When do you begin to spend more time at the gym and ignoring your loved ones? When do you choose to answer work emails at home instead of spending time in the Word growing in your relationship with the Lord? When do you choose to elevate your passion into an idol without even realizing it?That, my friends, is the real question.
For those of you who are wondering, when I say “idol,” I do not mean a small golden statue. Those statues became idols when people began to worship them instead of God. That same idea can be applied universally across anything in our lives. If we decide to worship (intentionally or unintentionally) something else besides God, then it becomes an idol. If we love something or someone more than God, it becomes an idol. If we put our worth and identity in something that isn’t Jesus, then it becomes an idol.
If you are left wondering if you’ve allowed your passion to become an idol, what next? First, you may be asking, “what does that even mean??” Well, it comes down to how we define ourselves. Yes, I am a photographer, but first I am a child of God. Your worth is not dependent on how well you perform, how successful you are or how much money you make. We are each perfectly unique in the eyes of our creator and nothing that we could ever do, say or imagine could change that. So if you are finding that you are continually defeated, feeling worthless or not good enough because your identity is rooted in your passion and not Jesus, then that may be something important to recognize. This life on earth is temporary, and if our passions are clouding our view of eternity, then they’ve become idols and are no longer glorifying to the Lord.
Another sign to pay attention to is the health of your relationships. Like I mentioned before, are you pushing your friends and family away, the people who love you most? Nothing in this world is worth ruining relationships with your loved ones, not even accomplishing the goal you set years ago. Although it may feel like you are on top of the world at the moment, being published in a magazine, getting a promotion or lifting a PR will never be fully satisfying. Only the Lord can satisfy that longing and desire in our heart to be something more, something greater. Spending too much time chasing your dreams while leaving your friends and family on the sideline is the last thing that we should do. We are called to live in a community of believers, a community of people who are going to encourage us, lift us up and point us to Jesus in every way imaginable. That’s why it is devastating when we start cutting out people from our lives to pursue a passion. Living outside of community will never be worth it.
I’ve always been taught that something becomes an idol when it is more important to you than your relationship with the Lord. This can take many forms, but one of the best ways to look at this is analyzing how you prioritize your time. If you look at how you allocate your time throughout the day, it will ultimately show you what you value, and what’s most important to you. If I say that Jesus is #1 in my life, yet I do not spend any time alone with Him during the day, then what does that say about how I really value my relationship with Him? If you say that you value your friends and family, yet you haven’t had a date night in weeks and have missed more than half of your child’s soccer games, what does that tell you? Yes, it could be that you are overwhelmed and don’t have the business processes in place to handle busy season. It could be that you are preparing for the biggest meeting of the year and have a lot of deadlines to meet that require a lot of overtime. But really, you are choosing to prioritize certain elements of your life over others. A great example to illustrate this is through tithing 10% to the church. God can do more with your 90% than you could ever do with the full 100% of your income. In the same way, the Lord can do more with your time if you simply give it to him, than you could ever accomplish on your own.
Now, I’m writing this blog with a vulnerable heart. I need to listen and believe these words just as much as you do. But by realizing that, I can take the right steps to not put myself or my passion on the pedestal. By recognizing the signs and knowing what to look for, I can take precautionary measures to ensure that I keep my business aligned with what the Lord has planned. Will I sometimes get off track and go down one of the paths I touched on? Yes. But that doesn’t mean that it needs to stay that way. My God is one who redeems, and he LOVES rescuing his children.