Inspiration. Motivation. Discipline. Passion.
I hear these words a lot when I’m at the gym (case in point: the guys with the bulging biceps yelling, “GET SOME!!!” while their friend’s face twists into grimaces of pain as he curls dumbbells equal to half my body weight) and see them in action even more whenever I scroll through my Instagram feed (for example, the memes of a svelte runner glistening with sweat as she traverses up a rocky mountain with words like “STRONG IS THE NEW SEXY” plastered on the bottom of the picture).
But what do they actually mean?
I recently listened to a Revive Stronger podcast where Dr. Mike Israetel spoke about the difference between these nouns.
- Inspiration—It is fleeting. It rears its’ head when one sees an emotionally charged image (aka IG posts). It is not long lasting.
- Motivation—It can last a day. Maybe even longer. It can make a person want to do something out of his normal routine.
- Discipline—It is steeped in routine. It can be viewed as mustered up energy or will power. It is created when habits are formed.
- Passion—It is long lasting. It is deep rooted. It is devotion.
It was in the middle of listening to Dr. Mike’s words that I literally stopped what I was doing, paused the podcast, and felt the Holy Spirt telling me, “THIS. IS. YOU. WHERE IS YOUR PASSION?”
I am not too proud to admit that my walk with Jesus has dwindled from one of passion to one of inspiration and (at best) motivation.
When I initially accepted Christ into my heart, I was all in—reading the Bible for hours at a time, carrying my journal with me to restaurants, and going on mission trips and conferences were not out of the ordinary. I loved Jesus. I wanted others to love Him. I desired for others to see the Holy Spirit in me.
Over the years the same passion I once had, that deep rooted, unexplainable zeal to break out in praise, dwindled. What was it that led me from leading Bible studies to finding it hard to muster up the energy to attend a small group?
My own control.
I still love God. I still call Him my Savior. But I was (and sometimes still do) try to muster up my own will to “make” myself open my Bible and read. I thought I needed control over, well, everything, to be the kind of Christ follower that Jesus wanted me to be.
Why did I think that? I memorized all the scriptures that told how my body was an act of worship onto the Lord, and that faith without works is dead. And so I rationalized I needed to
DO ACT DO ACT DO ACT DO ACT DO ACT. And the only way to behave like a Christian was to have as much control over my mind and emotions as possible so I didn’t let the world distract me.
Oh, the irony.
Discipline can only do so much, and as the trials of daily life sank in (work, kids, home), my physical body became fatigued. I was weighted down. And so I thought maybe I was feeling this way because I needed to put forth MORE effort and exert MORE control over my time. Couldn’t I muscle my way through waking up early to read Scripture or force myself to sit and meditate? If I could, wouldn’t I then be able to draw closer to Jesus and reestablish that passion I once had?
Sure, that scenario worked great—for about a month. That kind of discipline, setting up an alarm for 4am to read Romans, stopping playing with the kids in order to journal—can only last for so long. Yes, doing an action over and over will eventually lead to it becoming a habit (i.e. brushing one’s teeth), but I would like my walk with Jesus to be more than just a rote exercise in reading, praying, and journaling. I want my walk with Him to be one of passion. Of substance. Of inexplicable joy that only comes when I am whole-heartedly devoted to Him.
And really, it is passion, discipline, inspiration, and motivation all working hand-in-hand to produce a healthy, vibrant, thriving relationship with Jesus. One of those elements are not independent from the others. Sometimes there may be more discipline involved, whereas other instances require some inspiration. But at the root of it is passion. That kind of internal drive will never be extinguished and can drive a person to change his entire life. It is that kind of passion that is individualized to meet each person where he is at. And the best part? Once Jesus reveals the beauty and power of that internal drive to a person, it’s mighty hard for that flame to be totally extinguished.
I am on the road, the road to REALLY re-discovering the supernatural passion and joy that only Jesus can bring. My flame did not die—it is still alive but in dire need of some wood to re-fan the flame. How will that passion grow? Will it require me to give up many of the thoughts, actions, and behaviors I’ve held on to for so long? Yes. Will it require me to relinquish control? Yes. Will it be incredibly challenging and difficult? Yes. But thankfully, I have a God who has a plan and purpose for my life, and it is this plan and the promise of a passion-filled relationship with Him that I look forward to with bated breath.