One of my favorite quotes that I reference often is from St. Catherine of Siena, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” It is really a simple thought, just be you and tackle your journey with enthusiasm. Author Max Lucado offers a helpful suggestion: “Want to know God’s will for your life? Then answer this question: ‘What ignites your heart?’” He adds: “The fire of your heart is the light of your path.” Garth Brooks sings, “Life is not tried, it is merely survived, if you’re standing outside the fire.”
There’s nothing more important than making the right call about our calling! That decision can affect every aspect of our personal and professional life. It determines what kind of fire builds up inside us – the fire that drives us or the fire that burns us. “Man is so made that when anything fires his soul, impossibilities vanish.” -Jean de La Fontaine
My favorite band these days is the southern rock band with Christian music roots, Needtobreathe. One of their best songs is ‘Something Beautiful’ and it contains the lyrics, “Hey now, this is my desire, consume me like a fire, ’cause I just want something beautiful.” It is a song about searching for something truly inspirational in difficult times. Yearning and desperate, that inspiration is just around the corner. We can’t play it safe; we must take the leap and ask for God to be real in our lives.
Passion makes up a big part of who we are. When pursuing our passion, time means nothing. We are in a joyful state. Our career does not have to be our passion. Most of us do not have a grand purpose in life. Society needs to get away from this ‘majestic’ idea and start concentrating on those things that really matter and we can influence – our daily purpose. We must do our part each day to be the best that we can be. There is hardly a better purpose than that. Just ensure to make time for our passion. When pursuing our passion, all other aspects of life are enhanced. Success follows happiness.
In business, hire for passion and commitment first, experience second, and credentials third. There is no shortage of impressive candidates out there, find people who are passionate. When I coached high school football, I always wanted the player with passion. My character lesson to the players was that if a car had fuel but the driver didn’t know how to drive, we can coach that driver up and they will learn to drive. But if the car had no fuel, no matter how competent or well coached the driver was; the car is just going to sit there. Vince Lombardi, the Hall of Fame NFL coach said, “If you are not fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.” A true team, whether that is football or work, operates with one heartbeat, one soul, and the same relentless passion, or fire, to bust their tails to save each other from getting their collective butts kicked by the competition.
Leaders light a fire ‘in people’ while Managers light a fire ‘under people.’ The old ‘carrot and stick’ concept of motivation, also needs a heart. Leaders with a heart respect ‘people above policies’ and ‘relationships above ratios.’ Heart will move a person beyond ‘checking a box’ or going through the motions and adds the element of passion. Building or kindling a fire within someone changes everything around them. Horace Traubel a noted poet said, “If the world is cold, make it your business to build fires.” While centuries ago, the Greek philosopher, Plutarch, wrote, “The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.”
Ambition is a fancy word for fire. Ambition is an aspiration, an aim, a goal or objective, a strong desire. Ambition is a longing to accomplish something small or great but either way, meaningful. Some people take a narrow meaning of ambition, “a desire to be successful, powerful, or famous,” and they look upon success, power, and fame disapprovingly. When I think of an example of someone who has success, power and fame; having done it the right way, I see Lou Holtz – the only man to lead six universities to bowl games. Coach Holtz never considered winning his primary ambition. He has spent a lifetime teaching life, concerned that the player be a good student, a good father, a good businessperson. His words are, “We can all be successful and make money, but when we die, that ends. But when you are significant is when you help other people be successful. That lasts many a lifetime.”
“Thou shalt not be ambitious” is nowhere to be found in Scripture. While God provided plenty of examples of how success, power, and fame can warp human perspective, He never said, “Don’t be successful, powerful, or famous.” And God certainly never said, “Don’t be ambitious.” In fact, the Apostle Paul said it had always been his ambition to preach the Gospel where Christ was not known, and later, Paul advised believers to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life.” Only “selfish ambition” is condemned—repeatedly—in Scripture.
In the ‘Parable of the Ambitious Guest’ (Luke 14:7–11), Jesus teaches a lesson telling them not to seek places of honor. Service is more important in God’s kingdom than status. In New Testament times, the closer one sat to the host, the higher one stood on the social ladder, and the more attention one would receive from others. We need to realize that God is not impressed by our status in society. He is not influenced by what people say or think about us, because He sees the thoughts and motives of the heart (I Samuel 16:7).
In Luke 12:49, Jesus says, “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” God wants more than a simple and comfortable following that stands in awe and offers praise; He wants a refining and purifying fire consuming us. A daily fire around our daily purpose. We need to strive to be the best we can be. We must no longer stand outside the fire, we must ask God to light our paths. Do your part and trust that you will set the world on fire.