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On Vocation Blog

Posted March 2, 2018 by Opus: The Art of Work
Tags: Vocation and Calling

Why Skills Trump Passion

In this issue of On Vocation, we feature a chapel talk video on “why students should not follow their passions” along with a short summary and reflection questions to help your students apply insights from the message to their vocational discernment processes. This module will work equally well in the classroom, mentoring relationships, or even with your student worker. The talk was given in October, 2016 by Bethany Jenkins, at that time the Director of Vocational and Career Development at The Kings College.

In her talk, Bethany nudges students to turn away from the “passion hypothesis”—the idea that their passions will determine their vocations—and instead to think with a "disciple’s mindset."

Bethany gives eight reasons as to why the passion hypothesis is not a good model to follow:

1.  We want the wrong things, and we want the right things for the wrong reasons
2.  There is no evidence that people have pre-existing passions
3.  There is no evidence that if you love doing something, you will love doing it for a job
4.  The passion hypothesis is self-centered
5.  Most people aren't 100% sure they have found their "true calling"
6.  Too much emphasis on occupation over vocation
7.  It is anxiety-filled (leads us to the idea that there is one path)
8.  Entry-level jobs usually don't come with deeply challenging problems

Bethany then goes on to introduce the "disciple’s mindset," a set of concepts that has roots in John 13:4-7 that should replace the passion hypothesis. There are three things that applies to vocation exploration from a disciple’s mindset:

  1. A disciple loves people
  2. A disciple pursues faithfulness (There are two ways we pursue faithfulness in our work: We have a faithfulness to work unto Him, and we also have a faithfulness to pray unto Him)
  3. A disciple has a bias towards action

At the end of her chapel talk, Bethany shares about how Jesus had a passion for us to know Him, love Him, and love others. He had a disciple’s mindset. He loved us, not for what we offered Him but for who we are. He pursued faithfulness, being obedient even to the point of death. He had a bias toward action: He not merely said He loved us, but He died on the cross to show us.

Discussion Questions

  1. How have you seen the passion hypothesis play a part in your own journey, your own motivations for pursuing various career paths/majors/etc.?
  2. In what practical ways can you change your mindset from one of a passion hypothesis to a disciple’s mindset?
  3. What may be areas of your lives that are passions but can be hobbies? What are other areas of your lives where you can use your passions to love people, pursue faithfulness, and act?