by guest blogger, Bill Allison
Are You Controlling Your Emotions or Are Your Emotions Controlling You?
It is very important to note that before David had victory over his outward circumstances, he first had victory over his own emotions. Controlling our emotions, whether we feel like it or not, is a very biblical idea: “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls” (Proverbs 25:28, KJ21). A city without walls is a sitting duck for invaders. Talk about trouble! This is why God tells us: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). When we encourage ourselves in the Lord, like David did, we are guarding our hearts.
David’s Self-Encouragement Cycle: A Model for YOU!
Instead of letting depression, despair and discouragement rule his behavior, David ignored his discouraged emotions and did what he knew to be right, prayed to God, listened to what God said and then immediately did what God told him to do. Would you like to start a journey out of the pit of despair and discouragement? Would you like to experience God’s power in the midst of a heavy heart? Would you like to learn the skill of encouraging yourself in the Lord so that you can defeat the discouraging darts the enemy is throwing at you to keep you from effective ministry to others? Then I would challenge you to follow David’s example:
- Do what you know is right, whether you feel like it or not.
- Ask God to help you in very specific terms, whether you feel like it or not.
- Listen to what God says to you, whether you feel like it or not.
- Obey what God says to you immediately, whether you feel like it or not.
The Ray of Hope that Can Keep You Swimming in Discouraging Waters
In the book, Becoming a Person of Influence, John Maxwell and Jim Dornan tell of a fascinating experiment performed on laboratory rats to measure their motivation to live under different circumstances. Scientists placed a rat into a jar of water that was in total darkness. The scientists found that the rat could swim a little more than three minutes in complete darkness before it gave up and drowned. Then the scientists tried the exact same experiment with one minor variation: they allowed one tiny ray of light to shine into the jar of water where the rat was swimming. With one tiny ray of light, the rat kept swimming for thirty-six hours, over 700 times longer than the rat in complete darkness.
I totally understand that we, as humans, are not laboratory animals. However, I still think there is a lesson in here for us as youth leaders. When you follow David’s example and allow the sources of your discouragement to drive you to seeking God, praying to God, listening to God and obeying God, you unleash God’s power to shine one little tiny ray of hope into your discouraging situation. And that one tiny ray of hope can keep you swimming 700 times longer than if you opted to let the darkness of discouragement consume you.
A Final Challenge to Encourage Yourself in the Lord
The research conducted by Dr. Robert Clinton, Professor of Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary, has absolutely frightening implications for us as Christian leaders. Clinton says, “Seventy percent of leaders don’t finish well.” It seems that most of us will not finish the race well. If Dan Webster is correct, the majority of us who do not finish well will eventually be sucked under by currents of discouragement until we are finally so exhausted that we just can’t come up for one more breath of hope.
However, my message to you is that we can experience hope in the midst of our deepest discouragement if we dare to be like David, a man after God’s own heart, and do something radical, simple and childlike. Pray. If we learn to encourage ourselves in the Lord, in the spirit of David, we can eventually deal the deathblow to discouragement.
Get this series in PDF format for FREE
If you’ve read all parts of this series, I’d love to bless you with a FREE PDF that includes the entire series and application pages. All you have to do is email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, put I’M NOT QUITTING in the subject line, and write me a brief email telling me how God used this series to encourage you. Then I’ll send you the FREE PDF!
Who is Bill Allison? When he became a youth pastor, Bill Allison (center in picture below) had six keys to effective youth ministry. Now, twenty-five years later, Bill has six kids of his own and no keys. His kids are ages six to sixteen, including two in junior high and two in high school, so pray for him. Some of Bill’s lifetime goals are to drive in a smash-up derby, ride a Harley on Route 66 from Chicago to LA, and chase a tornado. He’s madly in love with his wife, Stacy, and dates her every week, even after 20 years of marriage. When Bill is not dating his wife or doing life with his kids (and their friends), he is the Executive Director for Cadre Ministries, a faith-based missionary team (with almost 100 years of combined youth ministry experience) who pour their lives out to help churches equip students and volunteers to do ministry in Ephesians 4:11-12 fashion. Cadre has trained and certified many youth pastors to take training back to their students and volunteers. For information on becoming a certified trainer, or to bring Cadre training to your ministry, contact email@example.com. By the way, even as an old guy, Bill continues to serve as a volunteer in the high school youth ministry of his church and wants to spend the rest of his life training, coaching, and mentoring the next generation of volunteer and vocational youth workers.