When I think about the word “joy,” I think of scripty, feminine Instagram posts. You know, like those Proverbs 31-type posts. It seems most of the joy-related media I have consumed has been directed at women.
And when I see joy in real life, it often looks like that person at work or the grocery store walking around with a goofy smile plastered on their face… you know, that person who makes you say, “what are you so happy about?”
But that guy with the smile so big we question it?
That guy should be you and me.
Why should men be joyful?
Joy is just as important for men as it is for women, if not more so. As leaders in our homes, churches, workplaces, and communities, we can use joy to show Jesus to others. When we become that guy with the annoying smile as our usual expression, other guys will begin to ask questions: Why are you so happy? Why do you walk around smiling?
Because even though that kind of smile isn’t the norm for most of us, it’s a sign of a deeply rooted joy. The kind that is only found in Jesus.
If we aren’t walking around with a deep sense of joy by default, something is wrong. We’re broken.
Romans 15:13 tells us that the hope of the Lord should bring us joy and peace. So for us to walk around moping, complaining, worrying, and irritable is to lack hope and faith in Jesus.
We have been so abundantly blessed – from our wives and kids to running water and a roof to air conditioning to having at least one car to having a place to gather and worship. We have been saved by God from what we deserve.
If we truly believe that, deep in our hearts, then joy should come easy. But if it doesn’t, there’s hope. Which is good to hear if you’re a guy like me who struggles with this.
How can I become a man filled with joy?
Shifting our default behaviors is not an easy task. For some of us, we have been easily irritated, highly critical complainers for our entire lives. Changing that will take work – hollow advice nor complicated textbooks will not be helpful.
Here are five practical ways we can begin to shift our new normal and become a more joyful man.
- Hand-pick a playlist of songs that move you to deeply worship Jesus, and listen to it frequently. Listen to it on your commute, during breaks at work (or during work if you’re able). Your heart cannot help but be filled with a sense of joy while you are worshipping.
- Read the Psalms every day. The Psalms are filled with joy and gratitude. Reading them, praying through them, and meditating on them will move you closer to God in a joyful way.
- Pray. Pray for a heart, spirit, and mind that is filled with joy. Pray frequently. When we go before God, especially when we ask Him for things that he very much wants to give us, he will change us. And pray for others – when our minds are focused on others and how we can help them, we will have more joy.
- Rest. Spend one day a week resting – choose a day off, and plan to maneuver all the household tasks you might usually on that day to other days of the week. Clear your schedule for one day a week so that you can truly rest with your family. A day of rest is so good for the mind, spirit, heart, and body and is conducive to joy.
- Start a gratitude journal. I know, cliche and girly. Reminiscent of those daily “thankful” November Facebook posts. But it’s proven that expressing gratitude can make us happier and even more productive.
- Stop complaining. Easier said than done, especially if you are like me. But keep it in the forefront of your mind that you want to complain less. Set tangible goals like “I will refrain from complaining about other drivers for a week” and increase duration and stretch to new topics as you go.
- Put your phone down. Smartphones are thieves of joy because social media is a haven for comparison, gossip, and jealousy. Comments on news posts are quick to trigger negative emotions. Delete those apps and set a timer for yourself on how often you’ll be on your phone each day or week.
- Lay in the floor and play with your kids. If they’re little, of course. It’s the easiest way to change your mood from frustration or sadness or irritation to joy. If they aren’t little, go do something fun with them.
- Serve the others in your home in ways you normally don’t. If you don’t normally do the laundry, do that (and listen to worship music or a bible-based podcast while you’re at it). If you don’t normally give your wife a back massage, do that. Serving others gives us a profound sense of joy when we do it without motivation. In fact, increase the number of times you serve others in your house each week – count the acts of service if you have to, until you are continually looking for ways to serve your wife and kids.
- Do one or two new acts of community service each month. Go to the park and pick up trash, go to a food bank and serve, or help package food or clothes for the less fortunate.
- Tell your wife and kids “I love you” more.
- Purposefully smile more often. Especially in pictures. Let’s break that mold of men not smiling in photos – because a joy-filled man cannot help but smile all the time.
- Choose to overlook small offenses. If your wife or coworker says or does something that offends you, don’t get defensive, lash out, or dwell on how hurtful you feel. This breeds self-pity, pride, and divisiveness. Overlook small offenses and go on about your day.
Putting it all together
To summarize: Stop focusing on what others are doing wrong. Be present with your wife and kids. Serve and pray for others. Worship, pray, and read the Bible more. Be thankful. Start doing those things, and you’ll begin to have a heart that is truly joyful. And when you have that, you will begin to lead a joy-filled home. And when you have a joy-filled home, you will be able to affect joy in a church and a community that desperately need the joy that can be found in Jesus.
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