Images courtesy of Microsoft

Road Runner

“Was that the Road Runner?”

“No, that was the pastor”!”

Some days don’t you feel like Road Runner—rushing here and there? In the position of pastor or leader you see all kinds—people who eat people for lunch if they dare to disagree, those who turn themselves into pretzels trying to make everyone happy, those who are hiding behind whatever they can find to avoid the guy on the attack, and Roadrunners. But what if that attacker…is me, the pastor, the one who is supposed to be the shepherd? What if the one who is avoiding conflict at high speed is me, the leader, the one who should be protecting the flock?

Your brain is designed to seek and  function in joy, but in the absence of joy, your fear circuitry becomes overactive. When fear becomes the dominant approach to life, you either run away or attack to avoid uncomfortable feelings. Fear it is not life giving.

Fear tends to cause two very different responses.

1. Hide parts that are weaker and more vulnerable

 They may be used against you

Your congregation may not like weakness and see it as a reason to get rid of you.

2. Fight—a predator response—eat the people in your  herd that upset you…OR Run away — a possum      response—duck and cover.


When joy is low you tend to act as a possum or predator which is not life-giving or joyful for you or other people. When you have not had a joyful foundation for a long period of time, you tend to function mostly in predator and possum behavior. You don’t do much joy.

Check out that tiger checking out the possum. Have you seen that look on somebody else’s face when you are the possum? Or, have you seen that look on your face in the mirror when you think about that person who is annoying the heck out of you—that person on your board, your committee or that person in your congregation who is just ticking you off?

Brains amplify. Think of your brain as an emotional, relational loudspeaker. It tends to amplify what is going on inside you and broadcasts it.

Brains AmplifyIf you are firmly rooted in joyful connections with God and others you are going to radiate and amplify joy. You will naturally create a joyful place for others to be with you and belong to you. That’s your basic design.

When your joy is absent, weak or overwhelmed, you amplify fear to people around you—or whatever negative emotion happens to go with fear. If you fear shame and someone’s threats trigger your shame, you may respond with a lot of anger which your brain will amplify. The brain also amplifies predator or possum behaviors—they tend to get worse.

Hide the fear! We end up putting on masks to hide the fear to avoid being eaten, attacked, made fun of or feel shame at the responses other people have. We really just want to appear strong and stay safe.


Staying safe by wearing masks does not bring joy, nor can you bring joy to anyone when you are busy hiding.

When hiding, your brain starts to crave a source of pseudo-joy to manage the stress, the fear, the anxiety, all that stuff that is going on inside of us.


Food is an excellent source of pseudo joy—especially high fat and high sugar.

You have to understand that this is not something you are consciously choosing. The hiding, the amplification, the craving for pseudo-joy is so far below the level of consciousness that most of the time we are not even aware that we are doing them. You cannot consciously manage them or address them or change them through conscious thought!

Pseudo-joy is found in BEEPs—Behaviors, Events, Experiences, People or Substances. BEEPS trigger the same neuro-chemical cocktail in your brain as genuine joyful relationships does. It can actually fool your brain into connecting to those things instead of the genuine joy that it really needs.

Typical BEEPS:



Partying Drugs


(Performance and approval do the same sort of things to your brain as cocaine!)


(In the ministry, many times workaholism is seen as godliness. The truth is  that when it is a source of pseudo joy, it is totally opposite from what we think it is.


Internet or internet pornography

Money and success


Gambling & thrill seeking



(Liking the pats on the back, the approval of other people for the ministry we do)

Ice cream!Ice-Cream-BEEPS.png

Action Step: This week, after we stop off at 31 Flavors, (Ice cream comes in so many different varieties and flavors. It is wondrous!)  our “homework” is to identify our reaction to fear. Are you a predator or a possum, or both? And identify your “go-to BEEPS.” What is your source of pseudo joy?

Standing in front of the mirror is not always comfortable, but identifying what we are doing is the beginning of returning to joy! May you consciously, intentionally build joy this week with family and with staff.

Blessings, Carol Brown BA, MACI

Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive                                                                                   

P.S. In our next blog we will discuss common ministry BEEPS and what to do about them.

P.S.S. Get your copy of the BETA version of The Joy Starts Here!

This post was based on a talk done for Pastor’s Weekly by Ed Khori

2 thoughts on “BEEP, BEEP!

  1. I thoroughly in-joy reading your blogs. I also appreciate the ethnic diversity of your varied pictorials.


    • I’m glad you are in-joying the blogs. I hadn’t even thought about the ethnic diversity! But intercultural and interethnic seems to describe my personal history–it seems to show up unconsciously. Fun. Thanks for stopping by.

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