Inspired by Frogs!

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Do you need to be seen, or does your joy exist when no one is looking?

I enjoy the Saturday mornings I go with my son to his guitar lesson. Soon he’s off to college and this era comes to a close.  We ride together, talk music, and while he’s in doing cool music stuff at Wallace Reed Music, I head off for about a 55 minute jog. When I return, we talk music all the way home.

Most of my jogs are good. I do about 4 miles on that route, and it’s generally uneventful.  Last week was different. I headed off of McGinnis Ferry onto the Suwanee Creek Greenway (Georgia). I love that piece. It’s covered by trees, the temperature is about 10 degrees cooler and the sections with boardwalk over the creek are wonderful.

Then it happened. About fifty yards off I could hear this most amazing sound. I didn’t know what it was, but it was loud.  Really loud. As I got closer I could tell it was frogs. Lots of them. I thought dozens and dozens, but likely hundreds and it sounded like thousands. We’ll never know the number. They couldn’t be seen. They didn’t need to be. It wasn’t about them, it was a natural response that caused the “singing.”

These frogs were singing like nothing I’ve ever heard. There was no way you could just jog by. The moment captured me and all other joggers who came by. We just stopped. You just had to stop and you couldn’t help but start smiling, and almost start laughing. When I say it was loud, I mean it was loud!

These were the happiest frogs I’ve ever heard!  It was like a concert. Base frogs, alto frogs...  It sounded like there were quartets, Hip-Hop, and definitely some Frog-Rap happening! But all in a concert. It was like Frogstock!

So what the heck was going on?  The night before it rained really hard and long, so the creek was extra full, and the frogs were simply happy. That’s it. Their joy was contagious and irrepressible. You couldn’t pass without being caught up in it and they wouldn’t stop just because we were there. On a normal day, a frog or two croak a bit, but as soon as I get near, they stop. When I’m a safe distance away, they start again. Not that day. These frogs were singing and everyone knew they were happy!

Since you are still reading this atypical Pastor’s Coach article, I’m going to continue the risk and pull a few thoughts from my moment of inspiration by several hundred amphibian creatures.

  • What does it take to make you happy?

Have you noticed that it takes a lot to get some people happy? In fact, I’ve met some people that seem never to be happy, no matter what. You know the kind. When they tell you about their trip to Disney World, the report is, “it was too hot and the lines were too long!  That’s it.  That’s the end of their report!

Sometimes it is hot and the lines are long in life, but a leader must keep a better perspective. Find the silver-lining in all situations. Smile easy. Laugh much.  If you forget how, watch little kids. They find joy in bugs, paper bags, and broken stuff! If you get them near ice cream, puppies or pizza at Chuck E. Cheese, a state of euphoria is quickly found. Don’t lose that. Chocolate chip cookies still do that for me!

  • Is your joy contagious?

Leaders take it a step farther. They spread the love! OK, seriously. Leaders take it upon themselves to bring others up. Leaders not only see life with a cup is half-full perspective, but invest energy into other’s in such a way that life is better.

This happens in at least two ways. Leaders help create environments where joy is abundant and others catch it.  The Redemptive Arts team at 12Stone Church recently led an all church worship event on a Friday night that was amazing. Worship through the generations – from Elementary, to Middle School, to High School and College, students from all ages lead us in worship!  People can’t help but be lifted up above the mundane and the troubles of the day. Leaders also invest individually in others in such a way that we help people see life differently.  Leaders help people see a life that is good and full of potential, no matter how tough it might get.

In both cases, the leader(s) must be filled with joy first. If it’s not in you, it can’t rub off on others. So here’s the question, are you a happy person? Not every day is a perfect day, but in general, are you are up, positive, and filled with the joy of the Spirit? When you are, it rubs off on others.

  • What shuts your joy down?

Even the best of joy-filled, positive and contagious leaders can have a bad day. I call them “kick the cat” days. Sorry, I’m not a cat lover. And you know the kind of day I’m talking about. Every leader has them.  Something is just gonna get kicked! (Please PETA, no letters, it’s just an expression, I’m not literally kicking anything!)

All of us who serve as leaders not only have an occasional “bad day” but also are more susceptible to certain things getting us down more than others. For you it might be finances, and it may be staff issues for someone else.  Be aware and stay in front by maintaining a positive attitude.

The point I really want to make here is to be careful not to let little things rob you of your happiness. Someone walks by and says something off-the-cuff that bothered you, or perhaps a nut-case driver cuts you off on the highway, or maybe an important leader in your church got transferred because of his job. Life is short.  Don’t get stuck on little things and things you can’t control.

I have a little rock on my desk with the word “laugh” painted on it. It’s always there and is a simple reminder throughout the day that happiness is my choice.

  • Do you need to be seen or does your joy exist when no one is looking?

Personal joy is central to the thoughts in this article. Joy in being self-aware, personally secure, and freed-up enough to be real. This all resides in the foundation of thoroughly loving God and being loved by Him.

We all know what it’s like to walk out of one meeting that was very difficult, and smile in the next one. That’s not phony, that’s leadership.  But what I want to get at here is when it’s just you. Its your day off, or for whatever reason you have some alone time. What is the state of your spirit? Up? Happy? Joyous? Content? Or do you just turn it on for the public?

Trust me, you owe it to yourself, those you love and those you lead, to be genuinely happy and then it naturally spills out on others. This takes effort and cultivation by the best and most mature of leaders. It never happens by itself.

Now let me really push the moment. I can’t help but think heaven will be something like this. Our joy will be simple. Jesus is King. We will sing because we are happy. His love rains down on us, our hearts are full and we just don’t need anything else.

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