It’s not usually the great burdens of life that kill our joy. In fact, our joy often flourishes during these times because we are more likely to draw close to the Lord and experience His presence at a new level.
What kills our joy are the subtle temptations that draw us from walking in the presence of God. In last week’s blog we noted the first five in a list of ten joy killers to watch out for:
- Lack of a devotional life—It’s hard to rejoice in the Lord when you don’t take time to know who He is.
- An unthankful spirit—Ingratitude focuses our hearts and minds on our needs rather than on our blessings.
- Dreaming outside the will of God—When our spirits become burdened with the difficulties of life, the grass begins to look greener anywhere that we are not.
- Comparing yourself with others—Comparison always leads to ingratitude, pride, or discouragement.
- Impure thoughts—A pure heart is a happy heart, and an impure heart is an unhappy heart.
I’d like to finish this list with five more ministry joy killers:
6. Unresolved Conflict
God intended that Christian relationships bring joy into our lives. Conflict in those relationships invariably saps our joy. Conflict that drags out over days and weeks (or longer) kills our joy.
In the “joy epistle” of Philippians, Paul specifically asked two people in the church to resolve the conflict between them, encouraging them to “be of the same mind in the Lord.” If each of us are willing to have the mind of Christ and serve one another with humility, our conflicts would be solved.
I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.—Philippians 4:2
Jesus instructed us to resolve conflict quickly.
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.—Matthew 18:15
The phrase “thou hast gained thy brother” reveals the high priority the Lord puts on relationships. A restored relationship is a gain—a win for both parties.
7. Failed Relationships
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.—Romans 12:18
The phrase “if it be possible” in Romans 12:18 tells us two things: First, we should mend every relational conflict that we can. Notice it doesn’t say “if it be desirable” but “if it be possible.”
Second, this verse indicates that there are times when it is impossible to solve a conflict. I grieve those times. I hate it when there is a break in a relationship with a brother and I want to make it right but he isn’t interested. But I recognize that it does happen. Human relationships fail, but Jesus will never fail.
Ruptured relationships can kill our joy…if we do not keep our focus on Christ. This is the message of the book of Philippians—when Christ is our focus, we have joy.
8. Neglect of Priorities
Joy can withstand tremendous loss and sorrow, but it doesn’t easily sustain imbalance. Neglecting our God-given priorities brings frustration, guilt, and frazzled nerves…not exactly ingredients for joy-filled ministry.
The multi-faceted responsibilities of life and ministry make it necessary that we seek God’s wisdom in relation to how we spend our time.
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.—Ephesians 5:15–17
We must live with eternity in view and plan our time according to the roles and responsibilities that God has placed into our lives.
9. Lack of Personal Ministry Engagement
There are many administrative tasks necessary to local church ministry. In fact, it is quite easy to become so buried in paperwork that we miss the real work of the ministry—people work. Paperwork won’t last; people work will. Invest yourself in people, and you will find joy.
First there is the joy of leading someone to Christ. I’ve never met a Christian discouraged because he had just led a person to the Lord!
He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.—Psalm 126:6
And then there is the joy of nurturing and discipling Christians in spiritual growth. Although this requires intense labor, it brings incredible joy.
Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.—Philippians 4:1
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?—1 Thessalonians 2:19
Paul was willing to spend and be spent in ministry. But it wasn’t just to keep his desk in order or his sermons filed. It was to invest in the lives of people. If you’re busy in ministry but your joy is ebbing, check to see if you’re engaged in personal soulwinning and ministry to people.
10. Material Expectations
Expectations of any kind will set you up for joy-sucking disappointment. Beware of discontent or a spirit of entitlement.
Paul’s contentment freed him to rejoice in the Philippians’ growth in grace evidenced by their giving. For Paul, it wasn’t about what he got out of it; it was about the joy of seeing young Christians investing in the work of the Lord.
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need…. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.—Philippians 4:10–12, 17
Joy is the inheritance of every child of God. It is the supernatural result of the work of the Holy Spirit within.
But this joy must be guarded. Satan will do all he can to steal your joy. Don’t let him do it, “For the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10b)