The Scripture says that you should cultivate joy every day as a result of your relationship with God. But what does that look like? And why is it so important?
To rejoice means to be cheerful or calmly happy, according to Strong’s Concordance, particularly in reference to your relationship with God. It means always having a peaceful delight in your soul. It doesn’t necessarily mean jumping up and down over something. Instead, it’s about having peaceful delight—in the midst of whatever is happening to you at the moment.
Having that perspective is not easy to do—and it’s impossible if you’re trying to do it without God. But it is nonetheless important to cultivate that perspective all the time.
Here are three reasons you need to have joy in your everyday life.
When I was a young man, I had a very selfish and self-centered paradigm. I believed the world revolved around me. Eventually, that paradigm broke down for me. It left me feeling empty and lonely, and I realized there had to be another way. Knowing that my paradigm wasn’t working, I was willing to explore Christianity. In reading the Bible, I saw that Jesus’ teachings were antithetical to my way of doing things, but I also saw how it would provide the peace that I didn’t have. As a result, I was willing to be indoctrinated into a way of thinking that went against my current belief system. I was willing to make a paradigm shift. I was willing to be brainwashed by myself.
Brainwashing is usually defined as a process of indoctrinating someone into a way of thinking that goes against their current belief system. Brainwashing is reprehensible practice—unless the person getting brainwashed is also the person doing the brainwashing. In that case, people can choose to indoctrinate themselves into a new way of thinking because they realize that their current belief system is not working for them. They realize it is important for them to actively remove that old way of thinking that is not working and replace it with something else that will work. They need to make a paradigm shift.
People view the world through a paradigm. It’s how they make sense of the world. There are times that people may realize that their paradigm is not helping them and they need to make a change in how they think.
Perhaps you’re at a point where the way you’re doing things isn’t working for you. Perhaps it’s your paradigm about God, or about yourself, or about others. Perhaps you’ve been believing things that haven’t been helpful for you. As a result, you may see it’s time that you brainwashed yourself.
You may have been a follower of Jesus for a long time, but you may find your paradigm isn’t working for you. You may realize your views about God, your views about yourself, or your views about others need to change.
If that’s where you are, then I invite you to explore how you can get brainwashed by yourself. Here are some questions to ask yourself and some practical steps to take for changing how you think.
It is not an option whether or not you will fail in life. I guarantee that you will fail at something. The question is: How will you process that failure? Will you let failure teach you? Or will you respond with self-condemnation?
Failure can be a great teaching tool if you let it, but many people respond to failure as if it is a final declaration. They look at failure as a judgment about themselves. As a result, they respond with self-condemnation.
Henry Ford said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Failure is not a destination. Failure is not a place to stay. Because failure is just the starting point of the next leg of the journey.
Here are three reasons why you should not respond to failure with self-condemnation.
Have you ever been in a meeting with these kinds of people? On one side of the table you have the guy who exudes optimism. He gushes about how the team can achieve what you have never been able to do before. You want to believe him, until the guy on the other side of the table speaks. The other guy says how it’s not possible to do what the first guy says and gives a laundry list of reasons. He brings everyone back to reality based on his cold, hard facts. But what if you could use both of their thinking to your advantage? What if you combined their thinking into what seemed like a paradox? What if you looked at the situation with grounded realism, but you also believed in your ability to succeed anyway? That combination of cold, hard facts with blue-sky optimism can make any venture get off the ground.
Here are three steps you can take to put this paradox of a governing philosophy into practice in your life or in your work.
If you are to become a good leader, self-awareness is something you must develop. In fact, self-awareness is one of the key fundamental building blocks of good leadership.
There are many powerful and wealthy heads of companies in the world who are not good leaders. They are driven by ego and are blind to their own weaknesses. As a result, they do not know themselves well.
As Polonius said in Hamlet,
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
To be true to yourself, you must know yourself. Developing self-awareness will help you in all areas of your life—not just with your team at work, but with your family relationships at home.
Here are three levels of self-awareness to develop as you progress as a leader.
The drive home from celebrating Christmas 23 ago was forever etched into my mind. My wife and I had gone to celebrate the holiday with her side of the family in the Shenandoah Valley. We had a great time of opening presents, eating good food, and laughing a lot. We knew we had a two-hour drive back to Northern Virginia ahead of us, but that was before the snow started falling. When we finally got on the highway, the snow was coming down so hard that we could barely see what was right in front of us. Drivers who were not seeing clearly that night spun around in the middle of the road or got stuck in the median. And not seeing clearly that night made our two hour drive into a much longer, white-knuckled experience that I haven’t forgotten 23 years later.
You will find that not seeing clearly in your life can have dangerous consequences. If you don’t see things clearly or accurately, you will draw incorrect conclusions based on what you think you see.
Here are three unclear situations to watch out for.
When I first entered the workforce, I wanted to be credentialed. I wanted someone to affirm that I knew what I was doing. I was looking for someone else to say that I was qualified to do what I was doing. In effect, I was requesting permission to succeed.
But truly successful people don’t ask for permission to succeed. They just go out and get it done.
To become successful, it’s important to do these three things—in this order—without asking for permission first.
I once heard a story about a young, aspiring actor in Hollywood who was invited to go to one of the local parties. It was in effect a Hollywood networking function where famous actors and actresses attended. One of the movie actors there was Walter Matthau. Walter Matthau during his lifetime appeared in more than 60 movies, and won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and two Tony Awards. Reportedly, Matthau asked the young actor how it was going. The aspiring actor replied, “I’m just looking for that one big break!” Matthau laughed, and said, “Kid, it’s not the one big break. It’s the fifty big breaks.”
Just like the aspiring actor, you won’t achieve overnight success. One big break will not help you. Unless it is supported by other breaks, that one big break will fade. You will attain success through incremental progress—by gaining one big break after another.
You can achieve the success you want if you will focus on these practices.
No one likes to be criticized. It’s not fun to be told what you did wrong. But criticism is exactly what we need to hear to get better.
If you were taking a college writing course and got glowing remarks every time you turned in a paper, those remarks might make you feel good at first. But if the remarks became a consistent trend, they would begin to ring hollow. As a result of the consistently positive feedback, you would eventually realize that you weren’t getting any feedback that would help you improve. You would sense that you needed some constructive criticism to help you get better.
While not all criticism is constructive, it can be received in that way. But that requires that you look at criticism in the right way. Here are three steps to deal with criticism and make it work for you.
Because you are a leader, you are a spiritual target. You have people depending on you to do the right thing. And the enemy of your soul wants to take you down.
Pastors are leaders with big targets on their backs. But business leaders have targets on their backs too. And parents especially have targets on their backs. Because all these leaders carry the responsibility of leading and caring for those in their charge.
It is imperative to watch out for how you can be targeted by the enemy of your soul. Here are some warning signs from James 1:14 to help you handle being a spiritual target.