I enjoy enthusiastic people. I enjoy them because they have positive zeal. They have a sparkle in their eye. They have an air of energy around them. Do you have enthusiastic friends or family? Are you moved by them?
I read an article last month by the late Henry Beversluis called Then Gladly, Madly Teach. Mr. Beversluis was a professor of education at Calvin College. In this article, Mr. Beversluis highlights the importance of enthusiasm in the work of teaching. He called it the “thrust” of a teacher. This is the energy that bubbles out of the teacher. It is effective because it breeds enthusiasm and energy in others, too.
The etymology of the word enthusiasm is interesting. It comes from the Greek words en (in) and theos (God). Essentially, enthusiasm means God-filled or God-possessed. This isn’t true in the literal sense, but only figuratively. To be enthusiastic is to believe in what you are doing and to be excited about doing it.
Although its etymology is tied to the idea of being spirit-filled, enthusiasm is not a fruit of the Spirit. Enthusiasm is not evidence of the principle of regeneration in the life of a Christian. But, enthusiasm can be a great power. It can be a salt, a savor, a spice. It can be the thrust which compels a Christian to read, to write, to study, to visit, to grow, to speak, to learn, to watch, to do. It can give the Christian the needed capacity and energy to develop their gifts and talents for God’s glory and the benefit of the neighbor.
Enthusiasm is contagious. This may be the best part. It breeds enthusiasm in others. It convinces, motivates and inspires those around you. Are you enthusiastic in your work as a father or mother? Others around you will be, too. Are you enthusiastic in your occupation as salesman, carpenter, teacher, tile setter, or shop keeper? Your energy will bear fruit. Are you enthusiastic about your love for Jesus Christ? Do you have a zeal for the cross? Do your eyes sparkle when you speak about your Lord and King? If so, you indeed have a yeast in life which will leaven the whole lump.
Let’s find enthusiasm in our lives. Let’s develop our God-given gifts and talents and use them with passion and energy for the glory of our King. Just maybe, then, the etymology won’t be so far off after all!
This post was written by Rick Mingerink, a member of the Grandville Protestant Reformed Church in Michigan. Rick is also a principal at a Christian school in West Michigan. If you have a question or comment for Rick, please do so in the comment section.