I remember one of the top leaders in the world’s largest missionary organization teaching to a group of leaders.   She was teaching on how to sustain a high level of leadership for the long haul.  You might think she would talk on relationships or taking rest periods or things like that.  Not even close.  Do you know what she said was key to sustaining leadership for the long-term?

Hope and joy.

It was a startling revelation.  Hope is something we are careful about because we’re too afraid of getting disappointed.  And joy?  Whoever talks about that in the realm of leadership?  Neither of these have I ever heard in a leaders conference.

But Paul takes this even to the next level.  He works not only for the progress in the faith of his charges, but for their joy in the faith!

What would it look like if we worked for others’ joy in the faith?  For a mother to work towards her children’s joy in the faith, and a husband his work and family.  If a pastor worked for joy in the faith for his congregation and Bible study leaders worked for the joy in the faith in their group.  Working for each other’s joy in the faith.  It’s really quite astounding.

There’s only one organization that I have ever heard of that has “joy” as part of their core values and that is with Iris Ministries.  Here are their core values [bold type mine]:

1. We understand that we can find God, and can experience intimacy, communication and companionship with Him in His Presence, if we share His love for righteousness.

2. We are totally dependent on Him for everything, and we need and expect miracles of all kinds to sustain us and confirm the Gospel in our ministry.

3. We look for revival among the broken, humble and lowly, and start at the bottom with ministry to the poor. God chooses the weak and despised things of the world to shame the proud, demonstrating His own strength and wisdom. Our direction is lower still.

4. We understand the value of suffering in the Christian life. Learning to love requires willingness to suffer for the sake of righteousness. Discipline and testing make saints out of us, and produce in us the holiness, without which we will not see God’s face and share His glory. With Paul we rejoice in our weaknesses, for when we are weak we are strong.

5. The joy of the Lord is not optional and far outweighs our suffering! In Jesus it becomes our motivation, reward and spiritual weapon. In His Presence is fullness of joy, and with Paul we testify that in all our troubles our joy knows no bounds (2 Cor. 7:4). It is our strength and energy, without which we die.

There it is:
Ministry to the poor
Embracing suffering
Joy in the Lord

The joy of the Lord is the strength of the Christian (Neh 8:10).  It also acts as a billboard to the faith.  Joy is inherently attractive.

Joy looks different for different people.  Some radiate joy in everything they do.  For others joy runs deep and is reflected in the eyes of the soul.

So let’s work towards each other’s joy.  And cultivate my own.

There’s few greater pleasures then when a parent sees their children walking in pure joy.

And I think it’s the same with our God as well.