Do you remember when you first felt that “something” stirring in your spirit? That special message, the undeniable call … the “A-ha! That’s what I was made for!” moment? If you are like me, you probably experienced a mix of emotions.
Fear …. am I really able to do this?
Skepticism …. God, you want me to do WHAT??
Humility …. I can’t believe I’ve been chosen to carry this message
Excitement … This is going to be a BLAST!
But under all of that, there was joy … a deep, soul-satisfying joy. The kind of joy that makes you get up every morning and say, “Ok, God, what cool thing are we going to do today??”
But then something happens to us. We face the day-to-day struggles, the long hours, the people who don’t understand, the technology … and our joy fades. If we let the fade go long enough, that joy turns into a job. Not the fun kind of job that has great perks and fabulous benefits. But the kind of job they write country music songs about. A J-O-B job.
As we head towards the end of the year, we are setting down anchors. Holding fast to the things that give us hope, the things that center us and keep us safe. I asked some friends what things were stealing the joy of ministry from them. Let’s turn these joy stealers into joy anchors that will keep us from getting off course.
Joy Stealer: Distractions
Oh, I know this one so well. I have all the best intentions to get my post written early, to create a cool new download, or even to just spend time in prayer and planning for what I should do next. But then life happens. A kid walks in the door and needs help with a project. A friend calls and invites me to coffee. You, too? I thought so. There is always something else vying for our attention.
Joy Anchor: Fix Your Eyes
For sure, there are times when family and friends and the day to day obligations of life come first, and we need to embrace those rhythms. But there also is a time when we must stop treating our assignment as a ministry leaders like a “side hustle” or a hobby, and give it the priority it deserves in our life. That will look differently for every person and every family, but we can follow the example of Jesus.
…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)
Jesus endured things he didn’t want to do. He scorned the shame of others’ expectations. And he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God to do what God called him to do. Why? For the JOY set before Him … for the vision God painted of people freed from sin.
Would it make a difference if you burned that picture in your mind? Every time you sit down to write, or create, or plan or even promote your ministry, remember that you are sitting down at the throne of God, doing what he called you to do. Remember the JOY of people set free, encouraged, informed, or entertained because of your obedient focus. Would you waste that sacred time playing games on your phone, or chasing the social media rabbit trail? I doubt it.
Joy Stealer: Social Media
Speaking of social media, we either love it or hate it.
We love the fun part of interacting and encouraging each other, seeing new ideas and learning better ways to do things.
We hate feeling like we have to be on social media, forcing our way into conversations, constantly promoting ourselves … oh, and promoting others because that’s what the gurus say we have to do. Never forget the 80/20 rule! And don’t even bring up figuring out how to do Hoot Suite and Buffer and Co-Schedule.
Joy Anchor: Be Authentic
Can you spot someone who is only on social media to promote their blog or product a mile away? I can, and I bet you can, too. The proper use of social media is the same whether we are there just for fun or for ministry. It’s all about building relationships.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:2-3 (NIV)
People can’t build relationships with a robot. So while there are great tools to help you make the most of your time on social media, a strategy based solely on scheduled posts and proper ratios looks and smells phony.
Comment and respond to things that move you. Share your post where you think it will be helpful. Retweet or repin or repost content from others that resonated with you. Support your friends. Love people. It’s as simple as that.
Joy Stealer: Comparison and self-doubt
You know we hear this one all the time. We all do it, and we all know we shouldn’t. So much has been written about this (including this fantastic book, Over It, by my friend Kristine Brown), we could fill up a whole library. So why do we continue to struggle with this?
Because we are being lied to.
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44 (NIV)
When we’ve lost that joy, we’ve opened the door for the enemy to fill our heads with lies.
Joy Anchor: Believe the Truth
I heard Lisa Bevere speak recently and she reminded us if Satan tells lies, then the opposite of whatever he is telling you must be true.
He says you aren’t good enough … because you ARE good enough.
He says you don’t know enough … because you DO know enough.
He says you’ll never figure this out … because you WILL figure it out.
He says you aren’t making a difference … because you ARE making a difference.
Here is what Jesus said about you:
You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. John 15:16 (NIV)
Girl, you did not choose this calling. God chose YOU. Your work is holy and sacred. It bears fruit … fruit you may never see. Don’t you dare question what God has chosen and let the father of lies convince you that God made a mistake in choosing you.
Oh my friend … hold on to your joy anchors. What you are doing is too important, too earth-shaking, too soul-stirring to allow distractions or social media or comparison to toss you around. I pray that you will
…have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. Hebrews 6:19-20 (NIV)
What joy stealers are you dealing with right now? How can you anchor yourself in joy as we approach the end of the year?