Archives For joy

As my daughters are getting older and memorizing more and more things, Brooke and I thought it would be good to help them learn some Bible verses.This week our verse was Galatians 5:22: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (NIV 1984). I try to read many Bible translations, but the NIV was the one I memorized.
Galatians 5:22 was one of the first verses I learned when I became a Christian. It always reminds me about what pleases God, and I expected it would do the same for my daughters.
What I didn’t expect was how they began reciting it to Brooke and me. When we became openly frustrated, or when I instructed them to do things, they’d quote the verse. Their zeal gave a whole new meaning to wielding the Bible as a sword of the spirit. They are correct in one sense–that the holy living described in this verse is difficult to follow. But in treating the verse this way, I think they’ve substituted measuring tape for fruit, and robbed the whole of its sweetness. As I grow older, I realize more and more how valuable the Bible is on a daily basis, and this is especially true in the workplace–even when you work, like I do, in Christian publishing.
Here are some ways that Galatians 5:22 applies in a work environment.
  • Love: Love can easily get lost when you are looking at financial numbers or trying to get something done. Galatians 5:22 is Jesus’s reminder to us about what is most important—to love God and to love others. The spirit of any situation changes when love is the motivation. Think about how you can love first in the way you do business and in all of life before you do anything.
  • Joy: No day is perfect in terms of what goes right or wrong. But when there are tough days, Galatians 5:22 reminds me of the big perspective. We are put on this earth to do work and to take joy in it. Our work matters! So the next time things get hard, think about how God has blessed you and others overall and how you are not alone. Joy can then emerge.
  • Peace: In business, especially the business I am in, it is difficult to have peace. The market is complicated and ever-changing, and it is easy to get stressed out and become overwhelmed. Our lives need peace, a calm during a storm. Most especially, Galatians 5:22 reminds me to spend time resting and in prayer before making big decisions.
  • Patience: When it comes to my kids, I need patience. And patience is valuable at work as well. Most people I admire in the workplace are ones who are patient do not rush into making decisions. Galatians 5:22 is a reminder to be patient with others as they develop into better leaders.
  • Kindness: I see so little kindness in today’s work environment. People act as if the ends truly justify the means, and they get hurt emotionally. Galatians 5:22 is a reminder that most people around me could be having a tough time at home or with something at work so why not be kind to them? And in the wise words of Bill S. Preston in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1986), “Be excellent to one another.” See, you never thought God could work through Bill and Ted, right?
  • Goodness: When I create or do something at work, I need to ask myself, “Would God think of this as good?” Is it purely for profit? Is it something that actually helps others and make a difference? I believe Paul put goodness in there to force us to ask these questions of ourselves.
  • Faithfulness: Good work requires hard work. Galatians 5:22 reminds me that to finish well is a great virtue. It shows that you are willing to stick with something through the thick and thin to ensure it gets done. At the end of a project, I have learned that knowing that you left it all on the field gives you so much more satisfaction. God smiles too.
  • Gentleness: We are asked to communicate with people each day. There is always news to share, meetings to schedule, and issues to resolve. Galatians 5:22 is a reminder to always be gentle in the way we talk with each other, especially when things are wrong. The blame-game does nothing to get you toward an outcome. To solve problems, choose words that are encouraging, yet direct.
  • Self-Control: As a marketer, it is so easy to do the most flashy or newest technological thing to get attention. I’ve often had to ask myself, “Will this technology realistically help us reach our outcome?” As Steve Green—Max Lucado’s great friend and literary agent—once told me, “Dave, just because we can do it, doesn’t mean we should do it.” Steve, that wisdom comes right from the self-control encouraged in this verse. So thank you.

I am so thankful for the word of God and how it heals our spirits and guides us in our everyday actions. Galatians 5:22 is one particular part of it that gets me through my personal and professional life. I hope it blesses you too.

What other Bible verse most guides you through your work day?

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Recently Brooke and I saw Mumford and Sons at the famous Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.  I’d been a fan of theirs for a while but the experience seeing them live is something I will not forget.  There were a few things that stuck out but one in particular.

They seemed to love what they were doing and here is why:

  • There were smiles and laughter during the entire evening by all.
  • Their harmonies reinforced that they are not centered around one person.
  • They invited locals to play with them to bring connection to the community.
  • They invited the audience to be a part of what they were doing and were gracious
  • They danced, they were loud, and gave an unforgettable experience
Bottom line is that they seemed to be doing exactly what they were meant to do.

The day of the show, the band had flown to Nashville all the way from London, England. They must have been exhausted from the trip and I can imagine for any band that a live show can be a drag when you are not sleeping much. They didn’t show any discontent whatsoever and seemed incredibly excited to play at The Ryman. I learned that Mumford and Sons perform like this at every show. It is now weeks later but their joy and enthusiasm stays with me.

What if in life I approached all things this same way as Mumford? 

Life is not always the same type of art but can we aspire for that same type of joy? 

I have plenty of friends going through very difficult circumstances so a post like this could be interpreted as insensitive.  I’ve learned through time and through the Bible that I should expect trials and suffering. Personally life is not particularly easy now but compared to so many others, all is well in perspective. It is draining when you are going through any sort of pain but when you stop to look up and around you, you can see the light. I have a friend at work who said her nine-year old son was so worried about life, especially dying. I remember having strange feelings like that as a kid. It seemed irrational to me now but then it felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. Even with little responsibility, there is something about us that wants to worry and dwell on the negative. What does it get us?

I have noticed a common ebb and flow in life. It is an up and down of emotions and it is easy to get trapped in a valley. Just watch cable news and you’ll be never escape it. Some stay in that valley longer than others but in my experience the more I dwell on the fact that I’m in a rut the longer I stay there. James reminds us in this way in his epistle.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.-James 1:2-4 (NIV)

It’s a reminder that we’re not meant to live an easy life.

There is a reason for our pain because God refines us in the process and shows us what joy is meant to be. I want to live with joy the way God designed me. It has caused me to listen carefully to him for when he whispers through my experiences. C.S. Lewis reminds us,

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.-The Problem of Pain

Next time I am feeling down I will be reminded of that Mumford and Sons night, go to prayer, read God’s word and find that joy.

It comes down to a choice. Choose joy.