THE WHOLE-HEARTED LEADER
PILLAR 2: INTIMACY
The Fastest Way to Access Your Joy Connection
It’s not good for us to be alone. God decided that at creation. God created us to be in relationship with one another, and especially with Him. We must have people in our lives to be whole, and we have to be in a relationship of intimacy with Him.
What helps to build a whole heart?
You don’t have to have five hundred best friends, but you need two or three people who are close to you. Now, people come and go in our relationships. They may be here for a season, but they may not be here for extended seasons. Your best friend in high school may not be your best friend in college. They may not be lifelong friends. But in each season, you need two or three intimate friends.
These people in your little circle are the ones you can grow with, that you can be safe with, and that you can build trusting, intimate relationships with. That intimacy helps to build a whole heart, because it brings healing, and it defeats shame, depression, and loneliness. All of those are killers to being wholehearted. We’re able to get past a lot of our wounds when we’re able to build an intimate circle of relationships.
What two things does my brain require?
According to science, our brains must have two things: joy and peace. We want to build our joy capacity. The more joy capacity we have, the healthier we are mentally, because we must be able to return to joy. You must have some sort of capacity for joy to be able to return to it. If you have a whole lot of pain and little joy, you’re going to have a hard time with your mental and emotional health.
Why do I need to grow my joy capacity?
We’ve got to grow our joy capacity because the pain is going to come. We’re all going to go through those seasons of sadness and hurt and testing. Peter warned us, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12 NIV).
The stronger our joy capacity is, the better we can deal with the pain. We don’t feel the pain as much. It doesn’t affect us as much. That’s why the joy of the Lord is our strength because when we go through difficult times and trials, we’re able to embrace that refining fire and still stand really strong, declaring the truth of God and who He is.
Overflowing with the joy of the Lord helps heal our hearts and keeps us restored because we’re connected to Him. We build those places of bonding with Him in building that joy capacity. That’s why it’s vitally important that we grow our joy capacity, and you can do it in worship with God.
How do praise and thanksgiving connect us with God?
Worship is probably the fastest way that I know of to enter into that place of intimacy with God and make that joyful connection. Why? It’s because you are entering in with adoration and thanksgiving, and this is automatically turning on that part of your brain for joy capacity.
Now, God also works through our interactions with people to build joy in us. But anytime you enter into worship, the music itself is therapeutic. Music connects with your emotional processing center and enhances memory. Lots of studies have been done on Mozart, especially Sonata 448, and the amazing effect of the sound waves on our brains. They’ve found that it enhances spatial reasoning and even calms seizure activity in people with epilepsy.
When we connect with God in worship, we’re in thankfulness and joy and appreciation. We’re combining that with music, which activates a wide distribution of our brain area and emotions, and it’s so powerful. We’re building all that joy as we worship. We’re declaring that we enter into His courts with thanksgiving and praise.
If you want to build joy, all you’ve got to do is to stay grateful. Stay thankful! Begin to count your blessings. Name them one by one. When you’re struggling, especially, move into thankfulness quickly, returning to joy as quickly as you can. It’s not about ignoring the bad stuff, but about getting back into this connection with joy. The fastest way I know is in worship.
“God, You’re so good, and I’m so thankful, Lord. I’m grateful for the air that I breathe, for the lungs that I have, I’m so thankful, Lord…” Bit by bit you start building this gratitude list of all the things you are thankful for. Because, I promise you, no matter how dire your circumstances, someone out there has less than you, or is dealing with something that is worse than you, so you always have room for thankfulness. Always.
How do I open my heart to the Lord?
You just move into a place of gratefulness, thankfulness, praise, and worship. You let your heart open. You let those emotions begin to connect with God. You allow yourself to be open to the Lord. We’ve got to tap into every place in our heart, to open every door, and let Him into every single place. And remember to not try to hide anything from God. In fact, He’s the first person we should run to. Taking it all to God is the first place we’ve got to go.
How do we grow as a whole-hearted leader? We need that inner circle of friends who can bring healing and help build joy and peace. And we need to be entering that place of intimacy with God through worship. We need to be growing in intimacy and hearing the voice of the Lord for ourselves.
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