You’ve just finished your quiet time. Placing a fresh cup of coffee nearby, you open your laptop to check your email. As you do, you see the reflection of the Christmas tree in the screen. The aroma of cinnamon and sugar cookies lingers in the air from a late-night baking session. Quiet carols play in your earbuds and you see the confirmation from the orders you placed while the cookies were baking. All is calm and all is bright.
And then you see it.
The one email that derails your day.
You put your coffee down, pull your earbuds out, and adjust the screen to block the lights of the tree. Reading it again affects you even worse than it did the first time. Gone is the memory of making cookies and ordering gifts. You reach for the tree and unplug it. Just like that, you feel the joy pulled right out of you.
Sound familiar? You may be thinking, “Wow, Dolly, had a bad day?” Let’s just say I’ve had my share, and, as a leader, it’s hard not to let it affect me. But I’ve learned a few tips along the way that I’d like to share with you. Tips that have helped me be able to hold on to joy while the enemy has been trying to rip it right out of my heart.
- Remember where your joy comes from. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13). As believers, our joy is found in Jesus Christ. He is the one Who fills us to “overflowing” and His power and love will never cease. Yes, we may become irritated, annoyed, or frustrated as humans, but we must not allow the enemy to distract us by becoming pre-occupied with the “bad day.” Your leadership role never stops. Even when you are not with your team, your class, or your small group, you are still on mission. Any distraction that we allow is dangerous to the kingdom work we are to be about. Jesus gave me my joy, therefore no one on earth or in the Heavenlies has the power to take it away. So…not today, devil.
- Remember that others are dealing with “stuff,” too. “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14) These are some difficult times, friends. We truly do not know what some of our sisters are walking through right now. If we allow our annoyances to rule us, we are behaving like the lost and we are not reflecting His compassion and love. Whenever possible, “err” on the side of grace. I promise you, you will not regret it. Often I have experienced someone acting in a graceless manner, only to learn later that they were going through a very hard time. We all need grace.
- Let it go. “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Matthew 6:14) Y’all, life is short. I just turned 63. I can tell you that the stuff that bothered me when I was younger was not nearly as big of a deal as it seemed at the time. It’s not worth it. I would much rather please God by offering forgiveness than I would make myself seem “right” by replying in a sharp way. As leaders, we are held to a higher standard, and, as leaders, we need to model the fruits of the Spirit. Take a minute to “check your heart” and ask yourself if you are modeling love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Then ask the Holy Spirit to complete that work in you.
As you go through this beautiful Christmas season, I pray that you will show the grace of God, reflect His peace, and shine with joy.