Ministries, families, churches, and businesses have been ruined by the close examination of their leaders’ inner lives. As Kevin Harney writes in his book, Leadership From The Inside Out, you need someone who can check your back. It’s like having skin troubles. Those who are prone to them wear sunscreen, hats and long sleeves; and schedule regular doctor visits to make sure their troubles aren’t progressing. Taking precautions helps them to live healthy lives from the inside out.
Kevin Harney’s book, Leadership from the Inside Out: Examining the Inner Life of a Healthy Church Leader, dives into the inner life of a leader and would be great for any small group of ministry leaders to study. The “Leader’s Funny Bone” chapter reminded me how important laughter is for leaders.
Laughter sustains our sanity. When Leaders and speakers talk about balance, it’s often serious and mostly about time at home vs. work, the legacy we leave, and things like delegation and work flow habits. While those are important, I don’t hear much about the balance of joy and laughter. Leaders need to laugh.
There’s power and health in laughter. It changes your attitude mentally and physically. It affirms people. It sets a good mood. It helps diffuse issues. Laughter creates memories. It opens doors. It makes a person more approachable. And it’s free.
Christians should be more prone to laughter than anyone. The church should overflow with joy and laughter. Somber and serious moments have their place, but a balance is needed. Humor helps people connect with other people. We can grow our souls, relationships, and ministries by spending time with people who can make us laugh.
“Grace leads to laughter and laughter leads to grace” (page 147).
How does grace lead to laughter and laughter lead to grace? When we walk strongly in the grace of Jesus, we see ourselves more clearly. We can admit our failures and frailties. When things don’t go right, we can laugh with others and ourselves because we know we are God’s adopted children, loved and precious in His sight. Jesus is near when our souls are overflowing with laughter.
Leaders must learn to laugh. As Reba McEntire once quipped, “To succeed in life you need three things: a backbone, a wishbone, and a funny bone.” Find ways to laugh at church and at home. Develop ways to play and laugh with your team, your spouse, and your children. Have fun. Let yourself go without thinking about it. With Jesus, we can live life to the fullest no matter what curve balls may be thrown.
Years ago, our family was on a one hour trip. During the first twenty minutes, I was telling a sad, yet happy, animal story to my wife. At the end, I got choked up and could barely finish. My wife started laughing at the way I finished the story. That made me start laughing and I couldn’t stop. We laughed in major waves and spurts for the next 30 miles. One thing that sticks with me from those moments is how many times I’ve heard my daughter tell other people the story of her mom and dad laughing hard, using up every Kleenex tissue in the car, and not being able to say what was so funny without laughing more.
Raising kids is just one example of where laughter is important. We need laughter to balance the stern and serious moments. If we take everything too seriously, we will wither away.
Laughter is a gift. Receive it. Practice it. Enjoy it.
Pick up a copy of Leadership from the Inside Out: Examining the Inner Life of a Healthy Church Leader.