What To Do When Passion Comes Unhinged

I was born with a passion chip. Some part of my genetic code gets riled up under certain circumstances.

I relate to Peter when the guards came to take away Jesus. Peter’s passion DNA started firing on all cylinders: “Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave.” ‭‭John‬ ‭18:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It’s safe to say passion overrode his system and he acted in anger, maybe even sin. A verse later, Jesus rebukes Peter, tells him to put his sword away, and heals the man’s ear.

Even though this feels like a righteous passion, a holy discontent, his response was still corrected by Jesus. His passion became unhinged.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been Peter in this situation.

Sports: I plowed a few catchers in baseball, got in more than my share of scuffles in sports, punched a wall when I was 15 during a basketball game, and threw my helmet more times than I can remember. The passion was there because I wanted to win. Still righteous, but unhinged.

Family: As a husband and parent, I’ve reacted in anger more than a few times. Passionately wanting the best for my marriage and my kids, but this passion can come unhinged and I may slice off a few ears in the process.

Ministry: Now my calling is ministry, to reach people for Christ, and to build the local church. My heart beats passionately, and like Peter, this passion can become unhinged.

When it does, I try to remind myself of two things:

1. God created the heavens and the earth and spoke the world into motion. He chooses me – humanity – to carry out his mission on earth, but he doesn’t need me any more than he needs himself.

Reminding myself that God is God causes me to breathe and reflect. Before slicing off an ear, I need to remind myself that God is still working. I may not understand or like it, but that does not necessarily mean it’s not what God wants to happen.

2. Do not sin in anger or passion. Passion is not a sin. Even an angry passion is not a sin in and of itself. However, our response is key. What we do with that passion. How we respond. Where we place it.

When the passion does overload and becomes unhinged, be quick to apologize. To others. To yourself. To God. 

Is there a time to potentially slice off an ear (figuratively speaking, of course)? I think there is. Defending the widow, the orphan, the outcast, the helpless, and defenseless. Carrying out the greatest commandment: To love God and love others. When the mission goes haywire. Sure, there are times when passion needs to boil to the point of becoming unhinged. But only to the point.

Today, I’m reminded that God is in control, that he breathes and the world moves, and to not sin when the passion boils. But I’m also reminded, like Peter, Jesus is looking for those who are willing to fight for what’s true, good, and right, even if we want to occasionally slice off an ear.

When You Lose Your Bleeding Edge

I had coffee with a friend, and he mentioned a church who was trying to diagnose why they weren’t reaching new people.

The diagnosis?

The church had lost its’ bleeding edge.

Since our conversation, I can’t stop thinking about this phrase. I know (like know the feeling) what this means, but I’ve been wrestling with how to articulate what I think it means.

Then I realized. It’s when Jesus quoted Isaiah:

These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is a farce.
Matthew 15:8-9a

The bleeding edge is lost when worship becomes routine, when those who lead worship become robotic and perfect, when ministry becomes a task or a job, and when our once burning white hot passion has become a tired, dreary, mail-it-in type of approach. It’s lost when we forget we are the mission carriers, when we become primarily focused internally rather than externally, and when we lose our primary love for Jesus.

Unfortunately, I know many people and churches who haven’t ever recovered their bleeding edge, if they ever had it to begin with. Thankfully, in my own life, seasons have come and go, so I know it’s possible to find it again.

When you lose your bleeding edge, you can find it again:

1. Ask: “What are you willing to die for? Then live for that.” Common

If you never had a “willing to die for” passion and mission in life, start there. Jesus gave us the ultimate: Go and make disciples of all the nations. People’s lives hang in the balance. Your closest friends, family members, and neighbors could be one prayer, one conversation, one invitation, one experience away from becoming followers of the One who brings life and life to the full. Start with that.

There are people dying of a lack of basic resources, families who are broken apart by addiction and abuse, parts of the world where peace hasn’t been experienced in decades – I don’t know what it is for you, but there’s something. Ask God. He’ll show you. Then live for that passion and show others how your heart bleeds.

2. Be a human, not a robot

Robots are programmed to deliver perfection. Everyone knows humans are not robots. Therefore, don’t pretend you are one. Sure you should practice. Rehearse. Prepare. I prepare as much as anyone.

But there can be a point where it’s too excellent and perfect. Millennials see right through perfection, because they know perfection is not authentic and real.

To be a human means to bleed openly, to show your rawness and authenticity, and your passion to see others experience the same. Miss a chord, stumble over a word, sweat – let people see your heart. It’s not about perfection; it’s about showing others your bleeding, raw edge.

3. Never, ever, ever miss your time to connect with Jesus

The longer I go on in ministry, the more I realize one of the few irreplaceable aspects of making it the long haul is to never, ever miss my daily opportunity to connect with Jesus. Literally, there is no quicker way to lose your bleeding edge than to slowly replace your time with Jesus with meetings, planning, strategy, email, and work. You’ll bleed, but you’ll bleed something other than Jesus.

To be clear, I’m as guilty as anyone. I lived plenty of days where I fail to find this bleeding edge, but when I do, I want someone to verbally slap me around (like Jesus did with the Pharisees in Matthew 15) and say, “Wake up! What are you doing?! You’ve lost your bleeding edge!” When you lose it, you can find it again. Find a “die for” passion, be an authentic human, and never miss your time to connect with Jesus.

Then show ’em your blood!