How’s that for a title?
Well, in keeping with my January promise to review books that impacted me in recent years, I am starting with this one. It is by no error that I have chosen this selection of books after last week’s discussion on mental health. These books were largely part of my getting a clear head and a reorientation of sorts after my last pastoral role (2 years ago this week), and my coming to grips with my own mental health needs. So where to begin…
The official title is Shattered Dreams: God’s Unexpected Path to Joy.
No, that does not sound very joyful. But it is. The underlying theme of the book is centred on what I recommend as a necessary step for everyone on the path to maturity, but especially for anyone with the status of leader. While it is human nature to strive for contentment and happiness, it is in the suffering and true challenges that we grow and are shaped for greater work.
We all must go through a moment of shattered dreams in order to define what our true joy can look like.
A few thoughts that struck me personally, and secondly as a leader through my year of being redefined:
- Life is not about doing what we are told, so ‘God will stack presents under the tree’. This is both a misnomer in faith and in secularism. We want suffering and hardship to be absent because we were good kids, therefore deserving some kind of reward.
- Then we are surprised when life hits us. The gut reaction is to remove ourselves from intimacy with God and our community, when really we were designed to move closer in.
- Hardship can breed intimacy for the sake of growth. But we have to stop expecting a quick temporal fix, feeding the addiction of happiness. Which means we need to…
- Lament and accept hurt in broken situations. No matter how small, or large. Grieve the loss of something that has shattered in our lives; live in it. Otherwise it will sit as a kernel of doubt and a barrier to true reliance on others and God himself.
Earthly joy is good, but mourn losses, grow because of them, and understand that not everything is meant to hang on to. Contentment is not found in holding on to things that were not meant to be, and some things are given to us for the sake of helping us see oiur purpose in a bigger picture.
A good leader makes his or her situation better; a great leader does not allow the situation get in the way of their becoming better.