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We know chasing happiness in ministry is a recipe for disaster. Embracing joy is an intentional choice, and it’s something we all need as we lead the church. A pastor that has chosen joy and fights for joy has the potential to lead a joyful church. In 2020 we had to find new ways find joy when everything was shut down and taken away due to the pandemic. In 2021 due to fatigue and slow recovery, we have to rediscover joy as we lead through the pandemic’s final stages.

One of the things we know is that pastors have struggled during the pandemic. Many are considering walking away from leading their church due to the past year’s political and social unrest. Fighting for joy is one of the key elements for enduring this season. Yes, this is a season. Will you allow this season to push you away from your calling? One of the first things you can do to move toward health is start by daily choosing joy.

Before I give you a few helpful steps, let’s look to the Psalms. David wrote this idea as he navigated a tough season. He wrote, “This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24). Yes, this is a song, but it comes from this Psalm. David is giving us an idea of what it means to choose joy in the midst of difficult times. In the struggle, we have to choose to rejoice in the goodness of God. This choice is not a choice to ignore reality or face sorrow and pain. We rejoice in a way that is appropriate to the moment, but rejoicing leads us to depend on God. This is the starting place, and here are a few other helpful steps you can take to rediscover your joy as a pastor…

  • Have a steady rhythm for prayer, reflection, and Bible reading. / Nothing will steal your joy as a leader like the trap of trying to lead in your own strength. This is the path to hear from God, cry out to God, and learn from God. Ignore your feelings and get in a rhythm.
  • Invite a mentor or coach into your life. / In difficult seasons, make sure you leverage technology and get some time on your calendar to process your emotions and health. Once you find those trusted people be real and ask them to speak into you.
  • Evaluate what brings you joy and what drains you and adjust. / Spend more time in your workday on what you love and give away some of what drains you. Some things are draining that you can never give away, but there is much we have taken on because of our tendency to overwork and earn approval from others.
  • Be intentional with your calendar and take control of your week. / Your calendar and your planned schedule allow you to say no to many distractions. You probably need to be doing less right now so you can say yes to things that bring you life.
  • Invest in your home life with the same passion you invest in the church. / Date, your wife, Hang out with your kids. Plan a vacation. Commit to your day off. Get a hobby. Your home time matters deeply for your ability to choose joy.
  • Laugh and choose gratitude more. / Find things that make you laugh and enjoy! Look for moments of gratitude more. Invite the Holy Spirit to reveal His work so you can express gratitude.

If you are reading this and you are in a bad spot, there is hope. I have been where you are. I am thankful for your service to the local church and am praying you can rediscover joy and lead your church to be a joyful church.