In 2000 I was working part-time in my psychotherapy practice and part-time with my church as a pastor for Spiritual formation.
I found myself restless, resentful and angry; just sort of weary. Life didn’t feel right and so I began a process of discernment to determine the problem in my soul.
The Spirit brought to mind a sermon I had heard on the radio years ago. Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel fame was preaching on Leviticus or some other rather dry piece of scripture. The text was describing God’s instructions about how the priests should be clothed in linen when they were ministering in the temple. The point made by the preacher was that God wanted the priests to wear linen because God didn’t want them sweating while they were doing the work of the ministry. He went on to say that if we are doing the work of the ministry we shouldn’t be sweating. If we are doing “God’s work” and we are sweating, we need to ask whether or not the work we are doing is what God would have us do.
I asked myself, where was I sweating while I was doing the “work of God”? I realized it was in my psychotherapy practice. I dreaded going to work; I resented my clients (not a good attitude to have as a therapist). Working in my practice felt like work.
The work I was doing at the church felt like life. It gave me energy and joy. As a result of this awareness, I decided to give up my practice.
Second thing I learned is to follow my joy. True joy is the fruit of the Spirit, and can only be created by the Spirit’s activity. Love, joy, peace and the other qualities mentioned in Galatians are not ours to put on or put off, they are evidence of the Holy Spirit’s tending and guiding of our souls. Fruit is not manufactured, it is grown.
God has uniquely made you and if you follow your joy. Not your happiness, or what makes sense or what gives you relief, or what anyone else expects you to do, but your own personal joy, you will be journeying with the Spirit.