“The joy of The Lord is my strength.”
Ever heard that before? A little phrase found in the book of Nehemiah.
Strength is what you’re after. Joy is where strength is found. But look again. Not just any joy. The Lord’s joy. That’s a totally different thing that any joy you can ever imagine. It’s not the joy you feel when you accomplish a great task. Not the joy from finding a great bargain at Old Navy. Not the joy you feel when looking into the eyes of a smiling infant…
…or IS that The Lord’s joy?
Perhaps, it’s not even in categorizing joy that you understand joy. Maybe it’s in HOW you experience the joys you come across. After finishing that great task, perhaps you allow the joy to push you into the arms of Christ and experience it WITH Him. Same when you find a great Old Navy bargain and watch an infant’s face light up.
Seems strength isn’t really from joy as much as it is from The Lord. He gives off a kind of joy from his character and you receive its fruit for your ministry leadership.
Got any thoughts to add?
You and I are a lot alike in some ways. We experience the joy of the mountaintops and we experience the darkness of the valleys. How we learn from both of these types of seasons is different, however. And because of that, it’s important that we share our journey experiences with others, lest we lose perspective.
Here are a few of the things God seems to be trying to teach me in the valleys of my journey. I trust they will help you in learning from Christ in your own valleys.
Silence. Noise seems noisier when facing the stuff of life that’s bigger than I can handle on my own. For that reason, it’s important for me to make time slots for purposeful meditation in the silence of solitude, just me and Jesus. No verbal prayers. Just listening – creating space for one-way communication to flow from Him to me.
Scripture. The valley gives off an alluring sense that I am alone in my quest for the next mountaintop. But when I dive into scripture, I am reminded that I am, indeed, not alone. I travel a little with Job, with David in the Psalms, with the Apostle Paul. Each of them are genuine in the feelings and thoughts common with the human expedition. And each of them unceasingly point to the One who knows me better than I know myself – the suffering Savior.
Song. Oceans, by Hillside. Shhhh, by Victor Wooten, You Are So Good, by Rita Springer. These songs and instrumentals have repeatedly been my companions through the valley. I am reminded that there are reasons to praise and be thankful. The consistent tones and haunting lyrics press me into the desperation and destitution of spirit, ultimately setting me up to learn from the Master.
Not sure if these help you or not. They are not meant to persuade you to act any different in your own valley. I’m simply sharing the human condition from my vantage point.
What have you learned (or are now learning) from your valleys?
A push. A shove. Tempers heat up. An arm swings. A helmet comes off. More punches fly. Melee ensues until the tribe of referees regain composure. When all is said and done, three players are ejected from the game. Two from Ohio State. One from Michigan.
Ohio may have won in the last few seconds of one the most exciting games in the Big 10, but not without a little disgrace flowing from the middle fingers of one player.
EQ = Emotional Quotient. The ability to harness emotions for the good of all concerned.
How do you react in highly intense situations? Do you have a healthy dose of EQ?
How would those closest to you answer that question about you?
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Ever get thrown under the bus by someone? Hurts, don’t it? And it’s not that pleasant for the one doing the hurting either. Whenever you see someone getting thrown under the bus, you can be sure that at least 2 people are hurting. This is no way to stay strong in ministry leadership either.
A New Generation
What if a generation of people made it their job to start throwing people OVER the bus? Encouragement is in short supply, but it doesn’t have to be that way. But if you’re going to throw somebody over the bus, remember these 3 principles:
Lift Weights. Throwing somebody over the bus is a lot harder than throwing them under the bus. You have to be in shape in order to get them on your shoulders and heave them high and far enough to be successful. You need conditioning. Where does that conditioning come from? It comes by spending time alone with Christ.
Lose Weight. Having your own way adds weight – unnecessary weight. You must be free of your own agenda. You can’t lift your own agenda and someone else at the same time. It’s impossible. So you have to be willing to lay down your desires and wants. This will free your hands so you can get a good grip on the person.
Don’t Wait. Just because you are encouraging someone along the journey doesn’t mean they will react in kind. You cannot throw someone over the bus with the expectation that they will thank you. That will only lead to a pulled muscle or worse, injury. Don’t wait for the response. Rather, do your throwing just for the sake of throwing. Find the joy in the activity alone, not for the perceived rewards you feel you are owed. Just do it.
Are you in shape?
Who is the first person you’re going to pick up and throw?
photo credit: Whiskeygonebad via photopin cc