Servant leadership is a noble path, one that calls individuals to put the needs of others before their own. While this leadership style is deeply rewarding, it can also be emotionally taxing and draining. That's why it's crucial for servant leaders to prioritize self-care and make space for joy in their lives. In this blog post, we'll explore the importance of creating space for joy as servant leaders and how joy can be a form of self-care, drawing inspiration from the Bible and its teachings on cultivating joy.
The Role of Joy in Servant Leadership
Servant leadership is rooted in the idea of leading through service and humility. It involves taking care of others' needs, empathizing with their struggles, and working towards their betterment. While this approach to leadership is fulfilling, it can also be demanding and challenging. This is where joy comes into play as a vital component of effective servant leadership.
1. Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV) - "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law."
This verse highlights joy as one of the fruits of the Spirit, emphasizing its importance in the Christian life. As servant leaders, embodying the fruit of joy can inspire and uplift those we serve, creating a positive and supportive atmosphere.
2. Nehemiah 8:10 (ESV) - "Then he said to them, 'Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.'"
Nehemiah reminds us that the joy of the Lord is our strength. As servant leaders, our strength and endurance come from our connection with God, and nurturing our joy can be a source of spiritual fortitude.
Joy as a Form of Self-Care
Self-care is often associated with activities that promote relaxation and reduce stress. While these practices are undoubtedly important, cultivating joy is a powerful form of self-care that can nourish our souls and renew our strength as servant leaders.
1. Psalm 16:11(ESV) - "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
Spending time in God's presence can bring immense joy. As servant leaders, taking moments to seek God's presence through prayer, worship, and meditation can rejuvenate our spirits and provide the strength needed for our leadership roles. This can be going to a quiet secluded place that you have designated as a prayer corner or room or spending a little extra time in the shower listening to affirmations and your favorite uplifting gospel track.
2. Proverbs 17:22 (ESV) - "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."
Joy has a healing and rejuvenating effect on our physical and emotional well-being. By prioritizing joy in our lives, we can combat the burnout and exhaustion that often accompany servant leadership. For me, spending time with young children makes me SUPER happy. They remind me to stay hopeful, curious, and agile.
Practical Steps to Cultivate Joy
Now that we understand the importance of joy in servant leadership and self-care, here are some practical steps to cultivate joy in your life:
1. Practice Gratitude: Regularly express gratitude for the blessings in your life, both big and small. A short list of five things you are grateful for per day goes a long way.
2. Connect with Loved Ones: Spend time with family and friends who bring joy to your life.
3. Serve with a Joyful Heart: Approach your leadership role with enthusiasm and a sense of purpose, focusing on the positive impact you can make. If you find yourself struggling to generate joy about the work you are doing on a consistent basis, it may be time to consider a job or career change.
4. Celebrate Achievements: Recognize and celebrate the successes and milestones, no matter how small they may seem. I like to believe that thanking God for what I already have clears the way for more great things to come into my life.
5. Embrace Hobbies and Passions: Engage in activities that bring you joy outside of your leadership responsibilities. It's OK to do something simply because you enjoy it. It doesn't have to become a side hustle.
In the world of servant leadership, where the focus is on others, it's easy to neglect self-care and joy. However, by embracing joy as a vital aspect of your leadership and self-care journey, you can become a more effective and resilient servant leader. Remember the wisdom of the Bible, which teaches us that joy is not only a fruit of the Spirit but also a source of strength and healing. Cultivating joy in your life will not only benefit you but also the people you serve, creating a positive and uplifting environment that reflects the true spirit of servant leadership.
Issata Oluwadare is a dynamic leader and innovative systems thinker with fifteen years of leadership experience in the private and non-profit sectors. She is also a content creator, four-time #1 best-selling author, entrepreneur, motivational speaker, certified life coach & consultant for women in leadership and business, and the founder of The EZ Breezy Life. Issata is happily married with two children. Deeply rooted in Christ, she believes in transforming the lives of imperfect women through the grace of a perfect God. She is also the founder of The EZ Breezy Life, Manny's Village, and Issata O. Inc. Learn more about Issata O. by visiting www.issatao.com.