A story is told about English actor William Charles Macready. He was once asked a question by a well-known preacher, who was clearly irritated. “Could you please explain to me something that I just don’t understand?” “Well”, said Macready, “What is it? I don’t know that I can explain anything to a preacher. It seems to me that you should have the answers for my questions. However, go ahead, I’ll do my best.”
The preacher, with frustrated impatience said, “Can you tell me what is the reason for the great success you are having? What is the difference between you and me? You appear before great crowds of people and present them with fiction. They come, night after night and buy expensive tickets no matter where you are preforming. I preaching the eternal gospel. I speak the unchangeable, eternal truths of God. These can transform the lives of all who believe, but I am hardly getting anyone at all to come out. Why is that, sir?”
Macready thought for a moment and then answer with an honest integrity that surprised everyone. He cut right to the heart of the matter and said, “This, sir, is quite simple. I most certainly can tell you the difference between you and me. It’s the reason I get the crowds and your get the leftovers. I believe in what I am called to do and I present my fiction with passion, so the people respond as though it were truth. You, on the other hand, present your truth without passion, which makes people wonder what you believe, and so they respond as though it were fiction.”
The facts are undeniable. How someone communicates can be more important than what they communicate. Every speaker or writer knows they must capture the thoughts, the emotions and the imagination of their audience. If they fail to do so, the message is lost in the messenger no matter how true it may be. Passion is a key. It is the reality that unlocks the heart and set the soul and imagination on fire. Without it we have not earned the right to be heard. Passion is what grabs the attention so both the message and messenger are embraced. Anyone who communicates without passion, will simply become part of the background noise in a world that is clamoring for our attention.
Actor Robin Williams killed himself just a few months ago. It was a shock to all of us since he was such a gifted comedian. His talent brought laughter to so many over the last several decades. However, one interview I saw him do a while back left me wondering. He said he loved to act because the truth was that he “became” that person in the script. During a movie shoot he had a focus and life made sense. However, once the filming was over, and he walked off the movie set, he lost his identity and he did not know who he was. In other words, he had a great passion for acting, but he had none for what really mattered, that which gave his life meaning.
All the money, awards and worldwide recognition he had accumulated before men, left him empty and directionless. In the end it left him hopeless and without so much as a reason to live. This begs me to ask the sobering question, “What was Robin Williams really meant to do with that passion?” I ask this because passion is designed to propel us into what we were created for. The success it brings leaves us fulfilled and satisfied. However, if our passion is redirected, and it sends us into other things, the success it brings is not just ungratifying, it will leave our life hollow and devoid of meaning.
When asked about his success, Methodist preacher John Wesley made the now famous statement, “I set myself on fire and the people come to watch me burn”. That statement says it perfectly! You must be on fire and really given over to “your” truth, in order to ignite others with it. When that spark of passion is flashing from your eyes, people know it. That clearly defined personal truth becomes the gyroscopic center of your life. Once that’s been discovered, everything that comes out of you will heat up the atmosphere until the flash point of others passions are reached and it sets them aflame.
The thing that must first be settled within is this; “What do I really believe?” In other words, what in my life am I willing to give myself to with the kind of passion that can set others on fire? What do I believe with such vehemence that my life is empty without it? Once you know the answer to that question, you have found the path to your life’s calling. This truth is so simple. Without it you may have success, but life will have no meaning. With it, you will be successful because there will be meaning in everything you do. My hope for you in 2015 is that you will unleash your passion. You will find your “truth” and use it to build and enjoy the life God intended you to have!
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