Where is the place you’re most frustrated and beat down as a leader? Perhaps it’s a room in your church. The children’s ministry. An associate pastor’s office. Your accounting desk. The pulpit. The empty seats. Go to that place and begin offering up words of worship. Like the prophet Habakkuk, worship God anyway. Create a portal of praise. And not always, but sometimes, you’ll sense an ever-so-faint surge of joy.
3. Embrace Mourning as a Discipline. It sounds counterintuitive, but in order to experience more joy, we must learn to mourn well. Our culture gives us endless lists for how to produce and accomplish more, even a handful of helpful hints on how to celebrate the wins of life. Rarely does anyone speak or make space for mourning the losses.
No matter how many wins you’ve managed to string together in a row, losses exist too. Sometimes it’s loss of someone you love. The death of a dream. The startling realization that life didn’t turn out like you hoped. It’s easier to jump from win to win like lily pads in a pond, but unless you allow yourself to enter the cloudy depths of grief and mourning, your emotional bandwidth will contract. Your ability to experience pain will diminish, but so will your ability to experience joy.
As a leader, you have losses that need mourning. Take a moment. Pull out a sheet of paper. Ask the Holy Spirit what losses you’ve experienced over the last year. What you record just might surprise you. Often we tell ourselves, “That was no big deal” when in fact, it was a very big deal.
Take some time to talk to God about each one. Perhaps confide in a spouse or friend. Pull away to allow yourself to rest and reflect, to process the pain. Consider writing a lament. A letter to God. Acknowledge the loss and ask for wisdom on how God wants to bring healing.
Margaret Feinberg shares her harrowing journey in the book and Bible study Fight Back With Joy: Celebrate More. Regret Less. Stare Down Your Greatest Fears. You can learn more at www.margaretfeinberg.com. You can follow her on Twitter @mafeinberg.