I love passion. I love it when people get up in the morning, ready to fight for things they care about. It makes us better. It makes us happier. Passion is better than apathy.

The best thing about youth is the passion, the vitality, the zest for life. But as I get older, I am beginning to think what we’re passionate for is more important than how passionate we are. We can be deeply passionate about things that, ultimately, do not matter.

I see this a lot in the recruiters that contact me for devops roles in startups. As a rule, startups are almost always crazy passionate about beer, San Francisco, hipster beards, and whatever they’re working on.

But I’ve gotten pitches like: “Are you passionate about keeping systems up and running?” “Engineers with a passion for technology” “Are you ready to take your passion for developing compelling websites […]” “Passion for the travel industry” “Passion for and experience in outbound product marketing directly to enterprises”

That last one especially … eww.

As I searched my email for the word passion, I was shocked to see that the overwhelming majority of uses were in job-related emails. Out of hundreds and hundreds of emails that came up, all but about a dozen were related to work.

But is it so surprising? We want what we do to matter.

Every second, we’re trading something we all love – our lives – for something else. It’s irreversible. Every single moment of life is being traded, year by year, day by day, hour by hour, second by second. We’re trading life itself for whatever we’re doing.

I must admit I’ve traded life for things that I don’t really like. I’ve traded my time for fleeting pleasures. I’ve traded my time for fights. I’ve traded my time on things I’m not proud of at all. I’ve given up something I love for the sake of garbage. That was not a good trade at all.

But we think passion is the escape for this. That we can take something we really like, and give up something we love for something we’re passionate for. And it’s certainly better. But passion without consequence is empty. There’s something missing.

Passion must be married to significance. Passion will burn out, and will burn you out. But when passion is married to significance and is lead by wisdom, watch out.

I am deeply passionate about technology married to the significance of the gospel. I could spend hours talking about using technology to reach the world, and I get goosebumps when I think about how we can exploit technology to make lives better. When you are passionate about technology, it’s easy to exploit people for the sake of shiny. But when you are passionate about people, it’s far easier to exploit technology for people.

I am deeply passionate about ministry married to the significance of kids, orphans and the fatherless. Only the gospel matters because only the gospel changes hearts. And to watch the gospel work in the lives of kids – family kids, whole kids, broken kids, at-peace kids, empty kids, abandoned kids, all kids – you get a glimpse into what God is like.

I am deeply passionate about money married to the significance of generosity. It sounds weird to write that down that way, and to say it in those words. I don’t know that I’ve never even put those things together before about five minutes ago. I’ve always been an econ/finance nerd, and I’ve always been interested in how God uses generosity to accomplish His will, but before today, I don’t know that I thought about putting those two things together.

I am deeply passionate about student ministry married to the significance of eternity. As weird as it seems (even to me) for me to hang out with a bunch of kids, there’s something about seeing hearts change because of the gospel. Only the gospel can change hearts, and there’s something incredible about seeing it happen over and over and over again.

Passion is a wonderful thing. But a night of passion won’t sustain a troubled marriage, and passion in your day to day won’t sustain your life.

Passion must meet significance to be sustained.