Making These 3 Mistakes With Joy And Missing Benefits?

Are you missing the benefits of joy in family life and ministry because of these three mistakes?

Mistake #1Thinking joy is something it’s not. I made this mistake too. I thought it was some kind of “floaty” elevated experience only seldom experienced by mere mortals such as myself. I learned from Dr. Jim Wilder[1] that it does not have to be a huge ecstatic experience. Instead, joy is…

…produced when someone is glad to see me. [2] And I would add, and “you are/were glad to be with them!”

sharing joy

Joy can have many levels of intensity. It can be the feeling you had as a child when your mother made chocolate pudding and let you lick the spoon. Everything within you and about you enjoyed licking the bits of pudding from the pan and the spoon. Your delight and appreciation brought a smile to her face as her eyes danced with delight at your delight.

Joy can be the wave of appreciation that washes over you when you call a trustee to come help fix a problem with the heating system…on his day off and he comes cheerfully.

Joy can be the feeling you have when you hear your favorite singer, favorite instrumental piece, or the voice of a loved one. It can be the quiet contentment of snuggles with your spouse or another family member.

It can also be the fun of a family get together with stories flying, a conference well executed or your favorite kind of adrenaline rush that leaves your body vibrating and blood pulsing.


Joy is like that—it has a rhythm of rising and falling from intensity to quietly resting calm. It is all joy and our bodies are built for that rhythm. Our brains need both the intensity and the rest from intensity in the same way that our muscles need vigorous exercise and then rest.

Another hallmark of joy is the smiles, the face lighting up and the eyes sparkling. Joy lights you up.

Mistake #2Substitute pseudo-joy for the real thing. If some of the 19 relational brain skills dropped out of your family, you never had the opportunity to learn them. You may have learned that BEEPS [i]provide a brain chemistry mix that is similar to joy. Your body craves joy; it runs on joy but if pseudo-joy is all you know, then that is where you turn. Do you self-medicate to calm your cravings? Instead of following the addictive directive, use your craving as a trigger to remind you to do something different. For example:

  • Crave coffee? On your way to the coffee pot, practice appreciating the person who makes it.
  •  Crave a nap? Start something that requires movement. Movement itself can refresh you.cravingsm
  • Crave sweets? Let the desire for sweetness remind you to text or phone your spouse.
  • Crave unconditional love? Cravings

Practice appreciating your spouse, a family member or difficult person for something he/she does well, and watch the difference it makes.

Mistake #3Blame God for not coming through for you. Feel like He doesn’t have your back? Or that He is ignoring you? Instead of being angry with God, ask to see your situation through His eyes. This is called “having an Immanuel moment.”

Share Immanuel - Click Image to Close

You can be so thoroughly absorbed with circumstances that you cannot see what God is accomplishing through them. Allowing circumstances to chew on you or drive you is a way to become intensely restless, develop tension problems or ulcers. When you give your best and nothing changes, you are tempted to discouragement, feel that you must be defective in some way, to self medicate or to quit.

Anger at God that seethes below the surface spoils relationships, with leaders and volunteers, but is especially corrosive to relationships at home. Seeing from God’s perspective changes attitudes; feelings come into alignment with His will and emotions settle.

Low joy in life can take you on a downward spiral of depression, addiction, low self-esteem and discouragement.

Benefits of Joy — Joy keeps relationships bigger than the problems. It can rebuild relationships at work and home; bring freedom from addictions and cravings. It renews relationship with God.

Joy is powerful medicine!

FootprintsNext Steps:

Order a copy of Share Immanuel and learn more about how to have an Immanuel Lifestyle, click here.

Learn the 19 Thrive skills. Attend the Thrive Training Register here:



July 14th to July 18, 2014
THRIVE training in East Peoria, IL.
Relational brain skills give you the edge.
Fewer ideas and MORE solutions.
Hands-on training in the 19 skills.
Joy changes everything.

Attend Connexus classes or bring a Connexus class to your church. For more information on Connexus go here.



[1] Wilder, E. James PhD., Khouri, Edward M., Coursey, Chris M., Sutton, Shelia D.,  Joy Starts Here, Shepherd’s House, Peroia, Il, 2013. ISBN 978-1-935629-10-8.

[2] Wilder, E. James, PhD, Living From The Heart Jesus Gave You, Revised, Shepherd’s House, 2,000, p. 11.

[3] BEEPS are Behaviors, Experiences, Events, People and Substances. For more information on BEEPS click here. See also Ed Khori’s YouTube channel.

If you have comments or questions be sure to pop them into the comment box. We are happy to reply!

May your joy be full,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology — Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive                  


What they didn’t tell you in seminary…

Did seminary prepare you for the reality of the pastorate? I’m guessing there are some weeks the burdens of the entire congregation roll down hill and stop at your desk. Life hits you out of left field. You run flat out all week and Saturday night you find yourself staring at a blank sheet of paper, experiencing writer’s block.

During crunch times, most of us fall back reflexively on what we know to do. For some this means you white knuckle it. You know Jesus is the answer to the problems you see around you—the church member who has a problem with rage, the “difficult” staff person, the couple that seems always to be in a relational crisis…so many people sick, programs lagging in attendance, lack of volunteers… So you work harder and longer; it’s what you know to do. But you are a person, not a machine and you cannot push through all that pain (yours as well as others) and responsibility indefinitely.

How long did it take you to lose the joy of ministry—or at least have it dulled? What do you do? Who does the pastor talk to, unload on? Where do you go to vent? Find inspiration? What’s missing? How do you get the joy back? I don’t recall my husband learning how to grow joy in seminary or the risks of low joy.

I heard a leader say he had a week where he felt like he was “a goldfish in a blender.” It would take some powerful swimming to stay on top of that swirling mass! Sounds like overwhelm to me. These are the times it would be a good idea to practice taking a breather, a time out instead of pushing and risking ruptures to relationships—skill #3 of the 19 relational brain skills.

And what to do with the writer’s block on the sermon? Try taking a joy break. Spend 10-15 minutes growing joy with a family member, then practice skill #15 of seeing from God’s perspective. Ask what He saw in the week and what He would like to say to the people. Hope that helps!

FootprintsAction Step 1: These skills cannot be learned from a book. They are acquired through modeling someone who already has the skills. There is one more Thrive event in 2014.

You don’t have to learn these skills the hard way!

2014 US THRIVE 5-day Training (Tracks I-III)

Date: July 14th – 18th, 2014
Holiday Inn, East Peoria, IL. USA
Registration: Is now open!
Click here to register.
Find Out More

Step 2:  If y0u cannot afford the time off for a 5 day event, you can get the skills in a Connexus class or bring the Connexus classes to your church. For more information on Connexus click here

At the very top of the page, click the “Training” tab.


Step 3: Share with us in the comment section what you didn’t learn in seminary and had to learn the hard way.

May your joy be full,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology — Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer, 

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive                  


Is Your Transformation Zone a Construction Zone?

Under Construction

Is this sign outside your church, your sanctuary? You want to begin to transform church, but where do you begin?

You know you may have a relational brain skill or two missing. Some of us may know we have a LOT missing. You see people in the church, your schools and community who really need these skills—like REALLY need them!

The need for joy is indisputable. Low joy is everywhere. What’s unusual is the person with high joy—they seem almost unreal with all that happiness. Seeing the need and not knowing where to begin is a bit overwhelming.

Still, given that you recognize that you live in a low joy environment and your church can be described as being low on joy…how/where do you begin to initiate changes?

Roundtable_smWe took the question seriously and created The Roundtable to collect ideas from those who have already started Joy Starts Here studies and/or Connexus classes. We trade off between Pastors Weekly which is a combination of teaching and interaction and Roundtables which are all interaction. At a Roundtable everyone on the video stream has a chair at the table and is asked to share their experiences with the Joy Starts Here material.

Some are Sunday school teachers so they simply went through the channels already established to get approval for a new class—simple. These folks had previously earned credibility with leadership in their church. We encourage you to use whatever channel or platform that you currently have.

If you are a relative “newbie” in your fellowship, the consensus of the group (and we concur) was that it is best to begin by developing relationships with someone who already has credibility and standing with those who make decisions. It does not have to be the pastor, but don’t ignore the pastor either if the occasion presents.

If you are a member of a small group, offer Joy Starts Here as a possible next study book and let your leader take it from there.

In general here’s how we suggest that you begin:

  1. Have a group study Joy Starts Here.
  2. When the group study is finished, move to Connexus Classes:
    • Forming for those who want more relationship with Jesus
    • Restarting for those who know they have issues that need healing. Forming and Restarting run concurrently and then…
    • Both groups are combined for the Belonging Class where the weak and the strong can relate.

Repeat! Spread the JOY. Somewhere along the line you will want to take the Thrive Training.

One individual read the Life Model, realized that some relational brain skills were missing and signed up for Thrive Training immediately! His family needed the benefits of joy—the decision was a no-brainer.

Later he found Joy Starts Here and the Connexus material and wanted to bring the blessing to his new fellowship because of the benefit learning the skills had been for his family.

So really it does not matter which end you begin with…Joy Starts Here or the Thrive Training, but the training is a five day block of time and many cannot afford the time away nor the expense. Connexus are weekly classes held in your local church; you will learn all the same relational brain skills but at a much slower pace.

As people shared, three things stood out:

  1. Build relationships. Take a Sunday School teacher, the pastor or an elder/deacon out for coffee and get to know him/her.
  2. Relationships lead to credibility.
  3. Credibility and relationships open doors.

If you have questions about getting started, shoot us a line and we would be glad to encourage and help in whatever way we can.

May your JOY be full!

Chris & Carol,

Chris Coursey, MA Theology — Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive