Saturday, August 20, 2011

Producing Passion from Pain

Photo credit: Billy Alexander

“Art begins in a wound,” according to John Gardner, and the same could often be said concerning ministry. As writers, often our writing and our ministries are connected. Let’s talk a bit about passion and then look at how you can use your passions to influence your ministry and your writing.

What are Passions?
Passions, in brief, are strong feelings. The emotions can be positive like love or loyalty. They can also be negative emotions such as hate or rage. Synonyms such as zealous, ardor, and enthusiasm may help bring it into focus. It is interesting to note that the word enthusiasm comes from the Greek en theos, which literally means “with God”.

How Do You Find Your Passion?
Since passions are, by definition, strong feelings, then that is where you start. You observe what causes or beliefs evoke strong emotions in you. Whether it is a news story, an activity, or the lunch table discussion, what are those things that make you want to weigh in? What makes you cry? What evokes feelings of righteous anger? What brings delight to your heart?
You can also notice what draws your attention. When you read a newspaper or scan the television channels, what captures your eyes and your heart? When you are in a group setting and have the choice of several conversations to dive into, where do you gravitate?
One last test you can use to discover your passions is to ask yourself this question: What do I most long to see God accomplish. Your answers may lead you to your passion. Do you want to see orphans set in families? Would you like divorce to be a thing of the past? Perhaps you’d like to see people find freedom from addictions. Possibly it is a group of people you’d like to see helped such as single moms, teenagers, those suffering from AIDs.

What Do You Do with Passions When You Find Them?
As mentioned before, many times our passions rise as beauty out of the ashes of our pain. The woman abandoned as a young mother feels a burden for single moms. A post-abortive teenager grows into a woman determined to keep others from that pain. A child of divorce seeks to help marriages thrive. Working out our passions in our writing or in our ministry helps us to bring “comfort to those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God” (2 Cor. 1:4). Our trial gains meaning and value when God allows someone else to be helped and healed because of a pain in our past.
Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, your writing can reflect your passion. Fiction writers often give characters painful pasts or character flaws. In the course of the novel, as the character comes to a place of healing or surrender, this brings comfort to readers touched by the same hurt. Non-fiction writers can shed light on problems, offer their own journey to healing, and give comfort and hope to others still mired in pain.
Ministries within and outside the church abound, bringing help and healing from nearly every painful experience that might shadow your history.
One caution is needed when taking a painful past and transforming it into a ministry of healing whether through your writing or another outlet. You must have already found healing and, if necessary, forgiveness from the painful experience. Christians should always minister out of a place of fullness. If writing is therapy for you, then write until your soul is purged; just don’t expect to publish it. Your readers don’t need to be shielded from the raw emotions or messy consequences of your pain, but they need to see it as only one part of a journey of wholeness whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction. The same is true in any other ministry.
We live in a sick and hurting world. People desperately need the hope and healing Jesus offers. What are those beliefs and causes you will choose to champion? Who are the hurting people you will choose to help?
How do your passions come through in your writing?

By Nikki Studebaker Barcus


  1. This post explains why writers who write from what's inside them often produce more interesting reading that writers who accept a topic from someone else and then write about it. The first flows from inside; the second is pecked out mechanically and can't convey the same heartfelt emotion needed to make some topics come alive. Thanks for this!

  2. Nikki, your posts are always so beautiful. Some of my best pieces stem from pain. I love how God can make beauty from ashes.

    Blessings to you, sister!