"...the joy of the Lord is your strength."
- Nehemiah 8:10 -
Several years back a friend of mine walked me through a personal assessment tool called Strengthfinder. The tool helps you to discover the strengths that God has hard wired you with while at the same time helping you to see some of the areas where you are not so strong. One of my top areas of strength is in the area of Positivity. What this means is that I tend to have a positive view on most things (the success of the Vikings excluded). In many ways this is a great characteristic to have as someone who leads a large church, but it also comes with some challenges. Because of my overwhelmingly positive outlook I can tend to minimize problems and I get exhausted by people who are not as positive as I am: I have a hard time relating to people that some might characterize as cup half empty people. At times I can even find myself trying to conjure up more positivity to counter the negativity that I hear or feel, not surprisingly, that just leaves me feeling even more tired or worn down. In those moments, the words of Jesus that invite me to come and find rest in Him are where I find solace, because it is in being yoked with Jesus where my positivity or joy quotient is refilled. I truly believe that the JOY of the Lord is my strength. I did a quick word search on the word joy and it appears more than 400 times in the Bible and I believe that joy should be a distinguishing mark for any follower of Jesus. Life is hard, change is hard, but if as followers of Jesus we don’t have joy how can we expect anyone in the world around us to? One of the best ways that we can connect with the world around us is to be so overflowing with joy that people cannot miss the truth that Jesus has done something amazing in our lives. This doesn’t mean that we are always happy, joy is so much more than being happy; joy reaches into the deepest places of who we are all because of what Jesus has done for us. I want to challenge you to fight against negativity, to fight against gossip, to fight against complaint, to fight against judging not with your own strength, but with the joy of the Lord that is your strength.