Joy does not have to be mysterious

A management coach has this message for Christians: Don’t be frustrated. Be joyful.

“Joy does not have to be mysterious,” Jeff Spadafora told me. “God is mysterious. But the Master Plan, that’s the formula we see in Jesus’ discipleship.”the_joy_model

Spadafora is director of the Halftime Institute’s Global Coaching Services and Product Development. He trains and manages the staff there. Prior to that, he was a management consultant who focused on Fortune 500 companies. Spadafora is the author of the book “The Joy Model: A Step-By-Step Guide to Peace, Purpose, and Balance.” Nelson Books is the publisher of the title, which will be released Oct. 18.

In “The Joy Model,” Spadafora says that more and more adult Christians are frustrated. They read the Bible and do other Christian stuff but know that joy is missing. That causes some to give up on their faith and look to other sources for joy. Spadafora’s advice shows how to balance the practical and spiritual sides of the Christian life.

Jesus’ apostles stopped working long enough to spend some time with the Lord, he said. Jesus coached the apostles, he said. The parables are an example: Jesus would tell the tale and then stop. He never said what it was about. The unasked question was: “What do you think about that?”

“That’s what a good coach does,” Spadafora said. “It prompts the people to come up with their own response. I firmly believe Jesus was a great coach in the form of letting people come to discover what they should do next in their life.”

jeff_spadaforaThe Halftime Institute has 41 coaches in seven countries, he said. He has spoken to them about the calling in the second half of their lives and what they hope to feel. The common responses are contentment, peace, fulfillment and joy. He began to understand that people believed that figuring out God’s calling on his or her life was the way to find joy. Some of them were accomplishing good deeds for God’s Kingdom but were joyless. He decided that while they were doing the work part of their calling, they were not truly connected with God. They had not really received the intimacy and transformation offered by the Holy Spirit.

In fact, they were caught in a works-based theology, Spadafora said. They did not have strong convictions and instead had Sunday School answers on who God is and who they are.

Then, there were the people who were soaring spiritually and living out their calling. Spadafora said he realized their actions flowed from God’s love reshaping their hearts. That action is not human-powered, he said.

“It was fun,” he said. “It was energizing.”

Spadafora also has some thoughts on meditation. His book talks about people struggling with prayer and offers some advice. Find a balance between talking and listening.

“God gave you two ears and one mouth,” he said, paraphrasing a quote from a philosopher named Epictetus. “Listen twice as much.”

He mentioned to me Jesus’ parables of the widow bugging an official and a man banging on his neighbor’s door in the middle of the night to borrow food for a visitor.

“We are supposed to ask, but we are supposed to listen too.”

To meditate, take one piece of Scripture and focus on it. Romans 12:1-2 talks about the renewing of the mind and transformation. How do you do that? Put godly stuff in there. If you spend all your time thinking about work, relationships, sports, etc., you will not be changed. But if you take Scripture and meditate and memorize, you are replacing worldly thoughts with godly thinking. Spadafora also suggests reading Philippians 4:8, which urges Christians to think about things that are pure and praiseworthy. By memorizing those verses you are not just memorizing but internalizing the Scriptures.

“What does it really mean?” he said. “It should be a lifestyle conviction. What does it mean to me? What should I do about it?”

More information on “The Joy Model” is at ThomasNelson.com and TheJoyModel.com. More information on the Halftim

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