Emotional Awareness

Emotionally aware
When I was as younger, I would say things that made light of people’s feelings, insinuating that feelings were not valuable. Out of my youthful zeal, I would even say, “God doesn’t care about your feelings.” Well, that’s not true. God absolutely cares about our feelings! He, in fact, made us emotional beings. Therefore, He wants us to have good and healthy emotional experiences.

It’s important to remember that feelings are not the meat of life,
they are the seasoning of life, enhancing or hindering our experience!

As leaders, we need to be aware of the way people feel. We should be sensitive, sympathetic, understanding, and loving towards people regardless of the fact whether their feelings are warranted or not.
This doesn’t mean that we make important decisions based on the emotions of others (or in some cases our own), because that could fall into man pleasing really quick. When we make emotional decisions, it doesn’t just mean we are being sensitive, it means we are immature. Yet we need to be aware of the emotional life. Our job isn’t to make sad or mad people happy, but to make sick people well. Sometimes hurting feelings is part of the job, especially when bringing to light the truth of a matter. Truth can be very painful yet liberating at the same time. We cannot always control the way people feel, but we can always control our approach as we lead others and speaking into their lives.

Three things to remember in being emotionally aware:
1. The Truth

The truth sets us free. The word of God is powerful to deliver people and it is sharp so we should correctly handle it.

2. In Love
Ephesians 4:15(NIV) ...Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

3. With Grace
Colossians 4:6 (NASB) Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.

“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
― Maya Angelou


Rejoice | Mourn

weeprejoiceYears ago, I was sharing some exciting news with a friend of mine that I greatly admired. It was a bit of a sensitive subject for him since he was desiring some of the same things to transpire in his life. He responded to my excitement by saying, “That’s good for you, but you will understand if I am not too excited.” I most certainly did understand--he had experienced a lot of heartbreak and I am sure it was a sore spot for him--but I still felt a little bit deflated. About a week later my good news turned sour, and I was heartbroken. Once he heard my bad news, he said to me, “Hey, if you need anything, you know I am here.”

I thought, “There is no way I would ever go to you. You are willing to cry with me but not rejoice with me.” Immediately I had an understanding to Paul’s admonishment in Romans chapter 12.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
Romans 12:15(NIV)

We all love to celebrate; we equally dread mourning, but we will all go through spots in our lives where there will be reasons for both.
“There is a time for everything... a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:1,4
Whether you are in a season of rejoicing or a season of mourning, you don’t want to go at it alone. I mean, how fun is it to celebrate by yourself and how difficult is it to mourn and have nobody to help you along?

I’ve known a lot of people throughout my life who wanted to rejoice with me on a big win in celebration. However, when the difficult seasons came, they were nowhere to be found. No calls, no text, simply silence. On the flip side, I have had people that were readily available when I was going through a difficult time. They want to offer advice, or insight, but they never want to celebrate with me. They are compassionate, but not celebratory. It’s so difficult to receive anything from a person that is only with me on one side.

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for both types of folks in my life. However, my life is most enriched by those that are willing to do BOTH with me. Rejoicing and morning with others is at the core of living in community.

Here are a couple of thoughts in rejoicing and morning with others:
1. Celebrate the small.

There is no victory too small to be celebrated.
Keep in mind that just because _you_ don’t think something is significant, it can be significant to them. You never know how much hope and prayer has gone into what has just transpired in their life.

2. Be excited for the person.

If somebody shares with you something that they are excited about, be excited with them and for them. You don’t have to be excited or even like what they are excited about, but you like them and you are excited for them! Have a genuine love and a rejoicing spirit for others!

Mourning with Others:
1. People mourn differently.

Some people want to mourn alone, others want to process things with another person. Don’t make the mistake in thinking that just because somebody is quiet that they are not processing. Don’t ever try to force somebody to talk about the situation they are mourning. You don’t have to give answers and solutions to help speed up the mourning process. In fact, that is a poor way to mourn with others. Mourning is a process, and it takes as long as it does for each individual.

2. Be available.
Although people may prefer to mourn alone, they should never have to be. Let them know you are there and check on them from time to time. Not with advice, but with availability. Some of my greatest encouragement in difficult times was folks simply telling me that they were there for me, or they were thinking and praying for me.

Let’s continue down the path of genuine, authentic community, and be a beacon of hope or a party waiting to happen for the friends God has put in our lives.


Restore the Joy

Joy Do you remember the day when Jesus lit your soul on fire? Do you remember how exhilarated your heart was? Do you remember the Joy of your salvation? .... Did you lose it?

One of my favorite passages in the bible is Psalms 51. It’s David’s psalm of repentance from the sin of adultery and murder. (Yes one the greatest influencers the world has ever known was an adulterous murderer....alright back on track) So David is crying out to God in repentance and he makes this statement:

and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
Psalm 51:10-12 (NIV)

It’s interesting how David connects joy to willingness. It’s pretty simple actually. We are more prone to do what we “find joy in.” Did David lose the joy of his salvation before he fell into sin or after it? It seems logical to concur that David lost his joy, therefore he sinned. Scripture makes it clear that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh 8:10).
We are more prone to failure and deception when we lose our joy. David wanted joy back and I, for one, am glad he got it!

We all long to be full of joy and live an exhilarated life because we are meant for it, and God finds great joy in our joy! Our success as followers of Christ is linked to our joy.

God finds great joy in our joy!

6 Thoughts on Restoring and Sustaining Joy!

1. Joy is not rooted in happenings.
Happiness and joy are not synonymous. However, I do think that most people use the terms interchangeably. It could be a matter of semantics. In my view and in this context “I would say that happiness is based on happenings.” Joy is rooted in something that happened, the cross. Happiness can be easily moved by something, but true joy is found in somebody: Jesus. I would suggest that happiness for the believer is discovered in their joy. Joy is fruit of the spirit. We don’t chase fruit, we produce it.
In other words, my joy is not dictated by circumstances, situations, relationships, etc. It is rooted in Jesus. I know it preaches easy, but we must come to grips with the fact that there is great joy in Jesus despite trials, hardships, and the happenings of life.

There is great joy in Jesus despite trials,
hardships, and the happenings of life.

2. Remember where you came from.
A couple of years ago, I ran into my childhood best friend whom I had not seen in well over a decade. We grew up together on the same street, shared the same interests, went to school together, partied together... we were basically “besties” before that was a word. But when I was 18 I gave my life to Jesus, and my friend continued his life. When I saw him again after so many years, it rocked me. My heart was broken for him. He had spent a large portion of his life in jail. He looked old, worn, tired, and broken. He laughed about it and said, “Man, look at you. You look so young, and I look old.”
The difference is Jesus. I can’t get over that moment. I am so grateful that Jesus saved me from a life of sin and many of the effects of sin. It keeps my joy intact, the joy of my salvation!

3. Remember what you came for.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith,
who for the joy set before him endured the cross...” Hebrews 12:2(NIV)

We are the joy of Jesus that this passage speaks of. We are his mission, and because we were the prize of the cross, it sustained Him through the most critical and grueling struggle of human history.
Eyes on the prize, keep your purpose in front of you, and don’t allow happenstance to distract you from what you were built for! You were built for Jesus!

4. Practice gratitude.
It is a healthy practice to find something to celebrate everyday. Rejoicing does just what it says: it RE-JOY(ce). Celebrate and then celebrate again.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 (NIV)

It is possible that some days the only thing to celebrate is your salvation. Everyday I thank God for saving me. I thank him for the cross. I thank him for getting a hold of my hard heart. When I posture my heart in that manner, something always wells up inside of me. I hope I never get over the magnitude of what He did for me when I responded to Him almost 25 years ago.

5. Share your story.
What is your story? The story of when Jesus rescued you. What did he rescue you from? When was the last time you shared that with somebody? Your history with Jesus is one the most powerful things you have. Nobody can debate your experience. It’s your story, and one of the greatest ways you can restore or grow in your joy is by sharing what Jesus has done in your life. It is a key to victory in your life and to the lives of those you are sharing it with.

6. Ask to be filled with joy in the Holy Spirit.
We know it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Lk. 12:32) And The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 14:17)

It’s the fathers Joy to give you the Kingdom and he wants to fill you with Joy in the Holy Ghost! Understand that it is His heart for you, then ask for it! Ask him to fill you with the Holy Spirit and unspeakable & irrational Joy. I think he will fill you today if you will just ask and seek him! He gives good gifts to his kids! (Matt. 7:11)

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy..."
1 Peter 1:8 (NIV)