Four Steps To Joy. No Joke. This is for Real.
For the last dozen years, I’ve had the privilege of seeing deeply into the practical and spiritual dimensions of hundreds of peoples’ lives. I have literally thousands of hours of one-on-one coaching. Through all of that, I have come to see a simple four step process for joy.
In my book The Joy Model, I talk about the M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan as a process for growing in joy. This is an acrostic for the elements of joy and today I am focusing on the “E”: Engaging in God’s Calling for Your Life. Figuring out your unique, God-given calling will provide a massive boost to your joy
So let’s cut to the chase.
1. Discern what you are passionate about. What makes you mad, sad, or glad? When you have free time, what things are you naturally drawn to that interest you? These could be hobbies, world issues, educational-social-humanitarian causes, spiritual issues, or work-related issues. They could be local, regional or global in scale. If you don’t know what you’re passionate about, read the New York Times or USA Today once a day for week ---not for the information, per se, but to see what makes your heart move either with sadness, anger or joy. What’s your favorite movie of all time? Why? What’s your favorite verse from the bible? Why? What historical figure most inspires you? Why?
2. Next, figure out what skills you are really good at. What are the things you do that bring you joy and are things you’re unconsciously competent at? Speaking, researching, leading, reading, marketing, simply pitching in, sales, accounting, brainstorming, working with your hands, teaching, etc. What are the things people have commented on in the past that you’re gifted in. (At the Halftime Institute, we use the Strengths Finder test to help people with this.)
3. Next, apply your skills to the passion you uncovered in Step 1 above. Perhaps you can do this at work or as a volunteer in your community or on staff at a non-profit. Perhaps you start engaging your skills toward your passion in your family or with your friends. Maybe you should start bringing people along with you when you do your hobby. The bottom line is to bring the best of who you are to the thing you care most about and – here’s the kicker -- do it in a way that meets a practical, emotional, or spiritual need in people. This is a critical part of the formula: make sure what you are doing is service-oriented and not selfish. Remember: “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.” Bank on that truth.
4. Lastly, do all of this in a way where you can draw the conversation, effort and attention back to the Truth about God and His Son Jesus. This is the all-important step. Whether we’re creating a more caring community at work, with your friends, or with your family – or around the issue of quilting, fly fishing (ooh, I like that!), evangelism, world hunger, poverty, or an investment club -- if we’re not leading people back to the freedom, peace, and salvation of the gospel, your efforts will be eternally hollow. Real joy comes not from discovering some personal purpose separate from God’s purpose. That’s just secular humanistic self-actualization. It will never lead to the deep, lasting joy God wants for us. The key is to find our role in advancing God’s larger purpose for the world. We’re an actor in His play. Not the other way around.
You will most likely not have this figured out by next Thursday afternoon. But if you intentionally – and prayerfully -- work at this for 5, 7, or 10 months, there will be a Thursday in the future when you wake up with joy because of the things God has prepared for you to engage in that day.