When I’ve watched past presidential elections, I’ve experienced a gamut of emotions… hope and hopelessness, excitement and despair, gladness and anger, hoping for a miracle and then depression, etc. Okay, so the candidate I voted for didn’t win, and maybe the candidate you voted for did win. However, the history of politics shows that peoples’ preferences continually change, and who knows how they are going to vote next time and who’s going to win the next election! So, if we’re not careful, our emotions and feelings will rise and fall based upon the outcome of a political race.

The morning after the elections as I got my morning coffee I made a decision that no president or political election will control my happiness… that I’m in charge of my own happiness!

That is a question that all of us need to ask ourselves, “Who’s in charge of our happiness?” In other words, what does it take for us to be happy and what has to happen to make us unhappy?

Ministers and leaders have lots of opportunities to be sad, mad, or glad, depending upon the current circumstances.

Ministers have peculiar challenges that no one else faces. Not only are we in charge of our own life, but we are also responsible for leading our ministries and people in the right direction. People want us to be as perfect as possible, but they are also quick to point out our imperfections. Our profession demands a lot of interaction with people, not only with those that agree with us but also those who differ with us. It seems like a set up for a lot of circumstances that can cause us to become very unhappy if we are not careful.

Pastor James from the First Church in Jerusalem wrote in his letter in James 1:2 (NLT), “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” Instead of his current circumstances dictating his happiness, it sounds like he is saying that his happiness or being joyful is dependent upon his decision. Based upon Pastor James’ statement we can make this statement, “Even when troubles come my way, I’m still in charge of my own happiness!”

Sometimes we lose sight of who decides whether we’re happy or unhappy.

As ministers and leaders, it’s easy to forget that we can rise up beyond the unhappiness that comes because of what various people do or don’t do. Here are four groups of people that I have decided will not be in charge of my happiness (or unhappiness).

Spiritual meanies and bullies won’t determine my happiness!

You don’t have to be a minister, or even a Christian very long before you meet some church-going person with the gift of meanness or the ministry of agitation. Before long they take aim at you and you become their target. Their gift and ministry has manifestations like meanness, rudeness, false accusations, lies, stirring up strife, gossiping, intimidation, and manipulation.

One of the vitally essential qualities that every minister needs is thick skin and soft hearts.

That is often easier said than done, especially when you are the target of some spiritual bully. So we try to become thick-skinned to their hurtful actions, and yet stay soft-hearted toward them in praying and believing for their spiritual well being. Dealing with these types of things causes ministers and leaders to face the constant tension of not being too gullible, believing people would never do anything bad, and on the other hand not being too cynical, not believing that anyone will ever do any good.

Remember that the things some people do to you are simply the enemy working against you because you are a minister or leader following God’s plans. So learn not to waste your time blaming those people for what they do. Instead, learn to resist the devil who is the one that is really behind all the trouble and, with God’s help, you can make it through the trouble!

So, even when you suffer the injustice and mean-spirited actions of people… you are still in charge of your own happiness, and it is possible for you to be happy!

People who disagree doctrinally with me are not in control of my happiness!

Some people in the church think it is their God-given duty to challenge and correct what a minister or leader preaches or teaches. Often these people offer their own doctrinal ideas (usually based upon what so-and-so said or what they found on the Internet instead of their own Bible study reflecting the whole counsel of Scripture).

Let’s face it, not everyone believes the same when it comes to spiritual things or the Bible. Sooner or later these doctrine police are going to inform you that they do not believe some of the things you teach, and some will even try to tell you what they think you ought to preach.

Preaching and teaching are areas that I work hard to make sure I am accurate and scriptural. I spend hours striving to rightly divide the Word of God and bring a balanced message. So when someone informs me that they do not agree with what I am teaching, it hurts, and I could easily get unhappy.

But, when these doctrinal police challenge you, remind yourself that they are not in charge of your happiness. If they are going to be unhappy with your teaching and preaching, you can choose to be happy anyway.

Those who leave my church don’t rule my happiness!

At any given time there seems to be a certain segment of Christians in transition from one church to another. It’s not just people who quit coming to church who endanger your happiness. Sometimes someone you have trained and prepared for a position or responsibility in your church informs you they are leaving your church. You’ve invested time and money into these individuals, seemingly all to no avail, and now you have to start training another person. What a great opportunity to get unhappy!

Someone pointed out that it is easier when we know that people leave our church for different reasons.

On a positive note: people leave because they are relocating, because their family members living somewhere else need help, or God calls them to another church. On the negative side: people leave because they’re unhappy with the preacher, they’re not happy with the way things are done at the church, they get offended or hurt, or they just simply quit coming to church. However, as a minister or leader who has the well being of people at heart, it is difficult to let them go for whatever reason.

The challenge is to not take credit for people coming to your church or blame yourself for them leaving your church. People coming and leaving our churches is often as natural as the ebb and flow of the ocean tides. Be grateful when they come, and be happy in spite of them leaving. We’re in charge of our own happiness!

People telling me “I’m the greatest” won’t cause me to be happy!

Sooner or later your ministry will touch some person’s life and they come to you with praise and thanksgiving. That is a natural response of gratefulness to someone who truly reached out and helped them. As ministers we are certainly grateful for those genuine acknowledgements of our efforts to help them.

However, there are also people who figure out that giving praise to you may be a way to get a position, gain a favor, or to get something they want. This is simply a form of flattery, and they are trying to take advantage of you. I have seen people giving praises to the leaders of a church and to their staff until the leaders are convinced that these people are a hundred percent for them and really able to help them. After these same people get their foot in the door of the organization, they go after what the leader and staff have, and actually try to take it from them!

Beware of letting people who praise or flatter you be the cause of your happiness.

Some of the same people who brag on you will also turn around and bite you later on. Some of the same people who cried “Hosanna” when Jesus came into Jerusalem a short time later also cried “Crucify Him!”

When someone offers genuine praise for what you do, receive it with thanksgiving. However, if you’re waiting on a person’s praise to become happy, you are setting yourself up for the enemy to manipulate your emotions and feelings. So, whether people praise you or not, decide to be happy anyway.

While none of us want to go through difficulties, whether we like to admit it or not, we do receive benefits from going through various difficulties.

It creates a greater capacity in us to lead others, builds new skills and abilities to minister to people, enables a greater capacity to handle pressure, and accelerates our spiritual growth. Keep in mind what Pastor James said in James 1:3-4 (NLT) “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” This indicates that we should endeavor to find the good in the things that we are facing, and to keep our focus on the fact that we are in charge of our own happiness.

When we recognize that we are in charge of our own happiness, and decide to maintain an attitude of joy and gladness in the midst of trials, we are showing an example to the people as their leader, showing our people how to conduct themselves in the various circumstances of life that they may find themselves, and hopefully people will place their confidence in us to lead them in the things of the Lord.

Former US President Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest leaders this country has ever had, but he had many difficulties and trials to overcome in his life. He grew up in the direst conditions of poverty and inconveniences. While a young child, his mother died. His first fiancée died before they could get married. His political career was one of many disappointments as he lost numerous political races. After he became the President of the United States, the nation was divided and the ensuing Civil War became one of the bloodiest and costliest wars in our history in terms of human life. Yet it is said that Abraham Lincoln commented that, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”3

Yes, it is true that you’re about as happy as you decide to be. Remember, you’re in charge of your own happiness–don’t let someone else decide your unhappiness without your permission. Amen!

3 http://ezinearticles.com/?As-Happy-As-You-Wanna

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