youth worker, youth ministry, experiencing joy

Experiencing Joy

By Doug Franklin August 23, 2012

I was in a three hour church meeting yesterday and I didn’t experience joy. In fact I seldom experience joy in my church activities. I am sure the same is true for you. When I do have joy it’s usually through a relationship or when I get to spend time with Christ. I often confuse church with my relationship with Jesus. I have to constantly remind myself that Jesus calls me to a personal relationship with him and that church is how I live out my faith in community.

The late Henri Nouwen was a Catholic priest who wrote a classic essay, “Moving from Solitude to Community to Ministry.”  In Luke 6:12-19 Nouwen said that Jesus moved from solitude to community to ministry – in that order. “The night is for solitude; the morning for community; the afternoon for ministry,” he wrote.

Luke 6:12-13, 17-19
12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles … 17 He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there … 18 who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, 19 and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.”

Solitude is being alone with God and with only God. It is important to be in solitude regularly so we can listen to God’s voice in the center of our being.  Spiritual activity begins with solitude.  In solitude God leads us to connect everything together much like the hub of a wheel ties together the spokes to the rim.

We are alone in solitude.  But solitude reminds us that we long for relationships.  In solitude we experience God’s love personally; in community we give God’s love to and receive God’s love from others.  In community we experience both forgiveness and celebration.  Forgiveness results in the healing of our wounds; celebration leads to our acceptance of people as they are, including accepting ourselves.

Jesus called all His children to ministry.  But ministry is more about trusting in God than doing things for God.  Ministry is about trusting that God will use us to bring healing to others.  It is the expression of gratitude and compassion to others, and leading them to a place of healing where they also can express gratitude and compassion.

These three disciplines – solitude, community, and ministry – will help us live a life well lived.  As we practice these disciplines in the specific order listed, we will bear fruit, experience joy, and find balance in life.

Rate yourself on each discipline on a scale from 1 (low) to 5 (high).

Solitude ______    Community _____    Ministry _____

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More