Running Red Lifts, Stop Signs – A lack of Character Change
A big reason for traffic accidents is running red lights or running a stop sign. You run red lights and stop signs when you are unaware of your surroundings. People keep driving and do not update according to conditions. This “road hazard” pattern is particularly dangerous in communities.
When you are unaware of your surroundings and how you impact others; the result can be accidents and ruptures in relationships. A lot of hurt and damage can come as a result. People go forward as they have always gone forward struggling with the same old things—there is no change to their character. When this pattern keeps happening some conclude that “that’s who I am and everyone will have to just accept me.” Sort of “my way or the highway.” Others withdraw to protect people from themselves–not helpful, then you live in your pain and there is still no change. And some go on a quest to search out the cause of the pattern.
“What’s missing?” There has to be a reason for it. What is missing there?
Lack of character change is a source of frustration for many leaders. They give their people good solid biblical teaching every week, provide small groups, there is all this stuff…and yet they wonder, “Why aren’t my people changing?” Or, maybe, “Why am I not making those changes? What is missing ?” And it is very frustrating.
So you keep doing the same old thing because it is what you have always done. You blow past people’s boundaries; run over feelings, not looking at what you could do differently. Needs are not fully met. You have a lot of performance going on with this kind of dynamic. You have to talk a certain way or look a certain way but deep down inside it doesn’t feel real.
If you really want to get to know “me”, ask the people I spend the most time with what I am like. They will know how I am when I am tired. What I’m like when I am grumpy. How I am when my back hurts.
You need a joy based environment where it is safe to be yourself and where people are glad to be with you. That doesn’t mean that they endorse your malfunctions or your sinful habits; it means they love you and they are glad to be with you and that creates the kind of environment where you can actually start making changes.
The Result of lack of character change means that people feel comfortable where they are, the way they are and will avoid anything that threatens their comfort zone.
God’ Solution — One of the things that excites me as a trainer and leader is that joy is God’s solution relationally. We have a God who is glad to be with us. That is real. It is true and very biblical. God is glad to be with us. Joyful relationships with God and others give us resiliency.
Resiliency actually has two meanings. It means rebounding or springing back. When problems happen or things go wrong, you bounce back. You spring back to who you were created to be.
One of the biggest frustrations about low joy is that it hinders you from being the person God created you to be. You can become crispy with low joy; you can become rigid or fearful. You just hurt. You are overwhelmed; you are not designed to stay stuck in those kinds of places for very long. You are designed to spring back, to bounce back to joyful relationship with God and other people. This does not negate the fact that you hurt—painful things happen and things happen that aren’t supposed to. It just means you are designed to bounce back into relationship with God and His people.
The other neat definition of resiliency refers to the physical property of a material that can return to its original shape or position after deformation if it does not exceed its elastic limit. It means that when things go wrong, and they frequently do, you return to the person God created you to be. You remember what is important when there is a conflict or things go wrong.
Low joy means you have a very limited ability to recover from distress. Which results from a lot of fear based motivations and a need to justify, which is also very toxic for pastors, leaders, and their congregations. It is hard to work out problems with other people when there is an incessant need to justify. When you bring an issue, a problem or a need to someone and every time they justify it, refuse to take responsibility or they turn the tables and say it is about you. That makes it difficult to grow in your relationship.
Scripture shows us that when you try that approach with God it does not work well. God’s solution is to be able to confess your grievances to God and each other in a very humble way. It seems that justification is not a very pleasing approach to God; therefore, it is probably not a good approach for doing life in our communities.
What to do if you relate to low joy dynamics in your life or ministry….
1. Introduce joy. Give people a language for joy—define it and use the language. People intuitively know what joy is when you give them an example. I might say,
His voice…he said, “Daddy, Daddy!” I was so glad to be with him. It made my day!”
When you start giving examples of when you experienced genuine, authentic real joy, people “get it.” But there can be a lot of confusion or vagueness about what joy is. What it looks like…what joy is not. So help to clarify with people what joy is and how you can use joy as a springboard for life and health and growth in your relationships with each other and with God.
With this new Joy Starts Here book coming out many pastors have already started to preach sermons based on this material. They are introducing joy as a way of life and as a value for their congregations. One pastor locally, who was teaching and preaching this in his church, called out his congregation to raise a banner for his people to be protectors. He said, “I want my church to be a church of protectors, a community of protectors. I don’t want us to be predators or possums, (which is another thing that happens with low joy. That will make more sense when you read the book). He has been taking active steps to make that happen both in the leadership and the congregation.
2. Start Joy Starts Here groups. That is the fun thing about this new book. Every chapter has assessments. Every chapter has exercises and bible studies. It is a great way to start introducing this because for many people joy is foreign. We live in a world where most people live in low joy. There are many reasons to have low joy and so you want to work on changing the tide both personally and corporately as far as starting some joy.
Three Ingredients necessary to create a culture of joy in a transformation zone.
1. The weak and the strong interact.
2. Tender responses to weakness
When someone brings a weakness no one says, “Well, you really messed up, didn’t you.” Or, “shame on you.” That is not a tender response. “Wow, this sounds really painful for you. What do you need; how can I help you? How can I pray for you?” That is a tender response — we want that kind of culture and …
3. Practice Emmanuel peace, Emmanuel Shalom whenever you lose your peace. This means talking to God and asking Him to restore your peace when it is gone. To learn more of the Emmanuel Way read the book Share Emmanuel.
May your joy be full,
Chris & Carol
Chris Coursey, MA Theology — Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer, www.thrivetoday.org
Carol Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive www.fromgodsheart.com
This post based on Pastor’s Weekly, Sept. 12,2013