I remember once talking with my friend who couldn’t figure out what to do with his life. He had a lot of interests and passions, but he didn’t know which one to pick.
Should I go into music? Or business? Maybe become a camp counselor? What about going to graduate school or seminary? What is God calling me to do with my life?
This was his dilemma. He was interested in this thing, that thing, and a few other things. But with so many interests and passions, he didn’t know which path to pursue.
Figuring out what to do with your life can feel daunting. Many of us have lots of interests and passions we’d like to possibly pursue, but we’re not always 100% sure which option is best.
Part of discovering what to do with your life is learned through prayer, and through trying stuff out. (You can’t really know if you like doing something if you’ve never done it.) The other part of figuring out what to do with your life is deciphering between paycheck passions and non-paycheck passions.
Paycheck passions and non-paycheck passions
Some interests and passions are paycheck passions, and others are non-paycheck passions.
Non-paycheck passions = work you’re interested in and passionate about that you feel called to do, but that you don’t necessarily make a full-time living from.
Examples include: music, writing, cooking, evangelism and discipleship, hospitality, travel, teaching, and countless other possibilities.
For some people, they do make a living from these passions/interests. For others, however, their paycheck passions enable them to do more of these activities that they don’t get a paycheck from.
Paycheck passions = work you’re interested in and passionate about that you do for money (a paycheck) so that you can live, enjoy life, give to others, and do more of the things you feel called to and enjoy (your non-paycheck passions) . These kind of passions can be enjoyable and fulfilling themselves, while at the same time empowering your non-paycheck passions.
Paycheck passions are empowering, because they provide the financial means, the relationships, and the opportunities for you to pursue your other passions/interests that you feel called to do.
For example, someone who is skilled in finance and enjoys working with numbers decides to work as a financial analyst at a large corporation, eventually making 6-figures a year. This would be a paycheck passion, because he enjoys the work and does it for a paycheck.
However, this financial analyst is also interested in helping kids get clean drinking water, evangelism and discipleship, and providing for his family.
Rather than become a worship leader or a missionary (in the traditional sense), this financial analyst decided to become a financial analyst because he enjoys finance and business, and because his job further enables him to do his non-paycheck passions as well:
- Practice his spiritual gift of evangelism and discipleship in the workplace
- Abundantly provide for his family
- Fund the non-profit ministry that he and his family started to help kids get clean drinking water and learn more about being a disciple of Jesus Christ
There is purpose in his work (the paycheck passion), as well as purpose that is enabled/empowered (the non-paycheck passions) because of his work.
An exercise, not a principle
Remember, this isn’t a “set in stone” principle; This is an exercise that helps you sort through all your passions and options, and helps you gain clarity on what you should do with your life.
What are your paycheck and non-paycheck passions?
For me, my paycheck passions include: business, entrepreneurship, technology, and writing. My non-paycheck passions include providing for my family and friends, hospitality, travel, fighting poverty and injustices, discipleship/mentoring, and community.
Here is a simple, step-by-step action that you can take right now (be sure to be praying through this whole process – for the Lord to guide you – so that your decision making is led by His Spirit):
- List out all of your interests and passions that you feel called to possibly pursue.
- Then, categorize them into paycheck passions and non-paycheck passions.
- Lastly, pick the paycheck passion that will most greatly empower/enable your other passions, interests, and callings. This paycheck passion will most likely be the vocation/job that you should pursue. (Don’t forget the other passions/interests on the list. You can still pursue these as well, using your paycheck passion to empower/enable them.)
Understanding all the different interests and passions you have, and then categorizing them into paycheck and/or non-paycheck passions, will greatly help you discern what to do with your life.