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  • Shawn Thornton

Joy, Not Grief

Wednesday - August 12th Scripture to Read for Today's Devotional: Hebrews 13:15-18

Today's Selection from our Sermon on the Mount Reading Plan: Matthew 6:25-34

Obey your leaders and submit

to them...allow them to lead

with joy and not with grief,

for that would be of no

advantage to you.

Hebrews 13:17 (NKJV)


Throughout the years our kids were at home and going to school, Lesli and I appreciated the many different teachers who spoke into Jon, Katie, and Megan. From time to time, one of them ended up with a teacher that wasn't that strong in classroom discipline, in a particular subject, or just had a personality that clashed with our child's personality. Sometimes one of our now 20-something kids was having a bad day or week, and the struggle in school had nothing to do with the teacher. As parents, we all have to coach our kids in these moments when school is "dumb," and the "teacher doesn't know what she is doing." If you are a parent, you know what I am talking about.

After we moved to California in 2008, the kids often rode with me to my office at Calvary Community Church since Oaks Christian School operates on the other half of the campus on which Calvary sits. I would drop them off at the appropriate place in the early morning. As we waited in the drop off line, somehow, and in some way, I worked in a phrase from the biblical, New Testament Book of Hebrews.

In Hebrews 13:17, Christians are urged to obey the leadership God has put in our lives. The verse says we are to follow leaders over us so that our submission to their authority causes them joy and not grief. Each morning I would slip that little phrase sometime during our wait in the drop-off line. "Remember to cause your teachers and school authorities joy and not grief today." I said it so much to them concerning teachers, coaches, pastors, and friends' parents that it might be a phrase they use as my epitaph on my headstone. "Here lies our Father. We hope he now causes the God of Heaven joy and not grief."

Think about how you respond to those God has put in authority over your life. Think about your behavior as you live out your role as an employee, a citizen, and a community member. We all answer to someone. We all are required to obey the laws of the land. Do you cause that police officer who pulled you over for speeding joy or grief? Would those above you on the corporate ladder say you give them encouragement or misery in how you adhere to company policies? When your name comes up with those who lead or manage your HOA, do they think of the joy you bring them or the grief you cause them?

If you are parenting children or teenagers right now, examine yourself before you criticize your son or daughter's response to you as a parent or to their teachers. Often, the attitudes children have toward their parents directly reflect the spirit by which the parents respond to and talk about authority figures in their lives. Before you remind your kids (or anyone else in your life) that they should submit to leaders, causing them joy and not grief, take a good look in the mirror!

We should NOT add grief to the lives of our leaders. We should add joy to their lives!

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