I thought I would be more excited.
I met with our church’s women’s pastor for lunch. We talked and shared. And what she said at the end of our conversation brought tears to my eyes. “I want to champion you. Whatever you’d like to teach or lead, I want to give you the opportunity and freedom to do so.”
I had never experienced anyone being “on my side” so much, especially when it came to the church. My mouth gaped wide in disbelief and I fought back tears from years of feeling unseen and at the same time feeling way too much.
Later, pulling out of the parking lot, I was even more surprised by my spirit’s response. As the shock of her words wore off, I realized I wasn’t as excited as I thought I would be. Confused, I started to replay the conversation in my mind. But I was trying to use logic to figure out something that only the Holy Spirit could lead me through.
I had assumed that, with my background in leading other women through (in)courage, my podcast, and my marketing business, serving in women’s ministry would have been the perfect fit. But when given the opportunity I thought I wanted, God used my lack of enthusiasm to grab my attention and steer me where He had designed me to serve in this season.
Maybe you’re in a similar situation right now where there’s an opportunity you had hoped for, longed for, felt like you needed, but when it came along the joy of the Lord wasn’t in it for you?
It’s easy to ignore the lack of joy in those crossroads moments when we feel like we should do what seems logical or even good. But I’ve learned to not ignore the absence of joy and excitement — the Holy Spirit uses both to lead us.
You might be thinking, “My faith and walk with Jesus aren’t always fun. What about the call to sacrifice and suffering at times?” Please hear me say I’m not advocating you base every decision on emotions. There have been long seasons where God called me to hard things and obedience without understanding. Ultimately our decisions should be based on the Word of God. But I think as Christians, a lot of us have programmed ourselves to discount the way God designed us; we are quick to dismiss the joy in our lives and quick to place greater importance on areas of ministry because we believe they are more significant to the Lord.
We have been fooled to think that joy isn’t a signal that God is at work in us. Many focus on the suffering of Christ and sharing in that but forget why the suffering took place — for the joy set before Jesus.
The excitement you feel for the job you’re doing, the children you’re raising, the place where you give in your community, the unseen ways you serve, that is the joy of the Holy Spirit in you.
Receiving joy isn’t only at the moment of salvation, it also happens as God’s Holy Spirit works in us and through us. Jesus said we’re to love and obey Him, “so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11 NIV).
Our joy and excitement are part of God fulfilling the desires He planted long ago in each of us, even if we aren’t aware. As we partner with Him, there may be hard decisions, grieving of expectations, and dying to ourselves. But when we make Holy Spirit-directed choices in our lives, there will also be a subtle hint of joy and excitement that can’t be explained.
So, how am I serving at my church? Teaching other women isn’t out of the question, but for now, excitement and joy have come in the form of teaching third and fourth-grade girls every Sunday morning. The Holy Spirit has prepared me for it and I absolutely love it.
Do you pay attention to the joy and excitement in your life? These two elements in your faith can be the signposts of the Holy Spirit’s leading. So, listen to the intermingling of your response and God’s together to know where He is leading you next. Please don’t discount your joy.
robert marison says
that was very interesting thank you
Ruth Mills says
20 years ago I was asked to teach the 3-4th grade Sunday school class. I, not a teacher by profession nor having any children of my own was sure they’d asked the wrong person to fill that spot!!! But because I knew I could not do it on my own said yes. 20 years later I still can’t do it on my own but it is one of my greatest joys to teach these precious ones. Even when as yesterday 1 of them is interrupting & talking off topic. God overrides the distraction & the lightbulbs go on over other heads. It is exciting to be a part of what God has for me even when it’s not logical that I be in this role. Blessings & joy in each of your walks with Jesus! Thank you for your encouragement, Stephanie!
Wow- you really have me thinking! And, of course, once again, so timely.
Stephanie Bryant says
I love that you’re thinking about important things.
Ariel Krienke says
Great lesson. God always blesses me no matter what the season even if I may not realize it at first. He works miracles on his own and I may not get to see how he uses me for benefit but he definitely does.
Melissa Ens says
Amen, amen, amen. Thank you for this reminder, Stephanie!
Jessie Honegger says
Wow! Such a good reminder. It is so easy to get caught in the trap of false humility and make ourselves serve where we aren’t joyful. I think the Lord would much rather have us delight in our service than moan and groan and do it because we “should.” I’m looking for a place to serve in my church right now and this is the tension I’m working through, so thank you for your words!
Stephanie Bryant says
I pray you find the spot God has planned for you in your local church. Follow the joy He brings, even in the most unexpected places.
Terri Scharn says
This is such an encouragement to me! I think it has helped me to not be afraid of my feelings, instead ask God, Holy Spirit what they mean. Thank you again so much
Stephanie Bryant says
I know God gives us feelings sometimes to match His plans. No reason to feel guilty for those. The fruits of the Spirit are always a good signal that He is active in your life – like joy, patience and love.
Kathy Cheek says
I so appreciate these words today! I need to let some joy out that is bubbling under the surface as I consider what to do next in an area of ministry.
Stephanie Bryant says
Please share your joy with the rest of us!
Beth Williams says
Joy is a feeling of great pleasure & happiness. My joy comes from serving with Loaves & Fishes Food Bank. I go on Fridays & whenever else I can to do whatever they need done. Deep down I know I’m making an impact for Christ in someone’s life. Also get joy serving (working) in hospital-that may sound weird I know. Sure mostly I stock rooms with supplies. Occasionally I get to interact with patients or their families. Maybe walk family to bathroom, or tell them I’ll pray for them, just converse with them about the patient. I feel good about what I do because I’ve been in the family’s shoes. Waiting for doctors, wondering what to do next, praying patient will get better. While stocking 29 rooms in 3 separate ICU Units is hard, I get immense pleasure knowing I’m helping CNAs, RNs, patients & families.