You can be happy no matter what happens in your life if you don’t let others control your attitude. This is a very deep statement. How can we live like this? How do we apply this theory to our life?
Over the last few months, I have seen a lot of unhappy people lash out on social media, because of what they believe is going on, not what they researched, not what they have facts on, just what they believe is going on from comments and gossip.
Recently over lunch a friend of mine said “you must have skin as thick as steel for all the things that get thrown at you.” I pondered on that the rest of the day. A Bible Study on the book Philippian that I recently completed came to mind.
In Philippians 1:15-17, Paul shares with us four kinds of people that were impacting his ministry while he was imprisoned in Rome. There were his friends and “co-workers” that supported and encouraged him in his work. Others were busy criticizing, competing, or conspiring against his ministry.
Paul wrote “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.” Philippians 1:15-17
There is nothing that robs your happiness faster than being criticized while working hard or feeling like others are working against us. Why? We want approval and to be liked. It is human nature.
Paul goes on to say in Philippians 1:18, “It does not matter! I am happy about it — just so Christ is preached in every way possible, whether from wrong or right motives. And I will continue to be happy.”
During the recent tornado, I made a post at the direction of another emergency management organization, regarding clothing donations. The post was posted, I logged off, and went on about my business. As I was sitting around a table with some new friends from Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief that were ministering to a woman who was at the brink of having a nervous breakdown, my phone rang, it was the EMD calling to chat with me about the post I made.
They explained to me that people complained I was not easy to work with. I was completely caught off guard, I had just finished hugging a sobbing woman, and building a plan to add more showers to a community without water and electricity. I took the “whipping” and hung up the phone. Still in shock. As I stood there for a moment my phone began to ding. Text message after text message with screenshots of horrible things being said about me. I was a dictator, a glory whore, someone who controls everything. It wasn’t me. Not really. I probably would have never made the post unless directed, but it was a post that needed to be made. Clothing can be a disaster within a disaster. I can share more another day on that.
This post has spiraled numerous times, grown wings and became another post, and brought on additional rumors and gossip about me. While many of those posting are declaring “they love Jesus.”
As my friend and I chatted about the critics in our community (hi critics), I thought about Paul’s message in Philippians 1:18, “It does not matter! I am happy about it — just so Christ is preached in every way possible, whether from wrong or right motives. And I will continue to be happy.”
I have adopted this motive for my community work over the past few months. It does not matter what others do, just so the good in my community is shown everywhere as much as possible, and as loud as possible.
Start fifty new Facebook pages with fifty new groups; maybe 50,000 new people will see something about our community and drive to our town and fall in love with it. Talk about me on threads and tell people what you think - every time you do, someone new comes into my shop to figure out who I am, and guess what, I get to show them the love of Jesus.
Happiness is Choice
I am happy as I choose to be! If others are unhappy with me, that’s their choice. If I don’t have someone’s approval now, I am probably not going to get it. And I am going to be miserable if I try to live for the approval of everybody else or those that simply don’t like me.
Paul explains in verses 29 and 30 of 1 Philippians why you can be happy no matter what: “For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it” (NLT).
Paul tells us it is a privilege to suffer when you’re doing the right thing because you’re most like Jesus nailing you to a cross and trying to get at you.
I can be happy no matter what happens if I look at every problem from God’s viewpoint and never let what other people say or do control my happiness.