Joshua Gagnon

thoughts on Jesus, leadership, and the Church.

Ep 166: Unlocking Strength from an Unlikely Source

Welcome to the 166th episode of the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast!

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You can read the full transcription of this episode below.


Roman Archer: Welcome to the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast. My name is Roman, thanks so much for tuning in today and I’m sitting down with the honorable Pastor Joshua Gagnon. How are you?

Josh Gagnon: Doing good.

R: Good, good, good. Talking today about what it takes to make it.

J: What it takes to make it.

R: In anything. The secret to life.

J: This is it. If you don’t listen to this episode of this podcast, you will miss out on the secret to life.

R: And then we’re going to just let it be quiet. Make people feel like they missed it. There’s something wrong with them. Well today we’re going to be talking about…

J: Strength.

R: Strength, but from an unlikely source. And you recently talked with our location pastors about this in our weekly huddle.

J: This is where I throw out an illegal substance (laughs).

R: You recently shared this with them. I was actually talking with one of them a little bit earlier on the phone...

J: Unlikely source.   

R: ...and they referenced this talk where they

J: Yeah, steroids have really been something (laughs).

R: The secret sauce. Strength.

J: I’ve been thinking a lot about this. This is going to be a short podcast because I really don’t have a whole lot to say other than what I’ve been thinking through in my mind. What has helped me recently when it comes to strength. The Bible tells us - for all of our Bible-believing, Bible people that listen to the podcast - the Bible tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength. The joy of the Lord is our strength. Nehemiah chapter 8, is it? Are you looking it up now?

R: I am.

J: Yeah, so just after they finished building the wall in chapter 7, Nehemiah chapter 8, we learn that, and I think I’m right, if I’m wrong I apologize, but right after they finish building the wall, Nehemiah talks about how the Lord is our strength. The joy of the Lord is our strength. And I was thinking about ministry sometimes and leadership sometimes and just work and life. I was thinking about how so often when we lack strength, we think that we need just to have greater persistence. We think that we just need to work harder. When we lack strength, we think we’re doing the wrong things. When we’re in a valley emotionally, we feel like we’re in the wrong place not doing the right thing. We feel like we’re failing. When things aren’t going well, we’re not good enough, we don’t measure up. There’s all sorts of emotions in this thing called life and this thing called ministry and this thing called work, marriage, parenting. Wherever you land in the spectrum of life, there are times when we just feel like we don’t have enough, we’re not good enough, and we’re in a pit, in a valley, and I was thinking about it because you and I were talking, and you were talking about how you were just discouraged.

R: Yeah. Absolutely, all of those things that you just said we feel like, man, life, and you’re just tired and the lack of motivation will be there, all sorts of things.

J: (laughs) Sorry. I started laughing because I remember when I called you this day, when I started thinking about this, I called you and I said, “What are you doing?” and you said,... we had this long talk and then you said something about bed or sleep and I said, “What are you thinking about when you wake up and you said, ‘Going back to sleep’”. (laughs).

R: Yeah, absolutely.

J: I was like, “Well, okay, this is a little bit more…”

R: That’s real talk.

J: And I was like, okay. And we started talking about life and that’s when I started thinking about, well, where do we find strength? We find it in joy. Where do we find joy? That becomes a good question, right? So the joy of the Lord is our strength, where do we find the joy of the Lord? And I kind of worked that back to gratitude. Gratitude sustains our joy. It’s really hard for me to be thankful for my wife, Jennifer, and to think about all the reasons I’m thankful for her. It’s hard for me to focus on all of the ways she blesses me and not feel joy. It’s hard for me to think about all the blessings God has given me and not feel joy. It’s really hard for me when I think about how I don’t deserve any of this. Now I feel like I am entitled to all of it, but the truth is I don’t deserve any of it.

R: So it’s a focus problem.

J: Yeah, and so when I focus on the reality that everything I have is a blessing from God, I start to unlock praise in my life. And when I start to unlock the presence of praise in my life, I start to feel joy, and when I feel joy, I’m unstoppable. Like, I never had joy without strength. Strength has always accompanied joy. When I feel joy, I feel like I have strength to keep going. I feel like I have strength to keep fighting. I feel like I have strength to keep thinking. I feel like I have strength to knock down barriers. It’s when I lack joy and strength I’m in trouble.

R: Absolutely. And I think there are multiple times where fear in ministry or you’re leading a team because you were constantly pouring out, where it’s easy to get there. And often times, I do, I find I’m lacking strength so you lean in more. You work harder. You get more serious. You dig your heels in more.

J: Like the antidote…

R: Yes. Yeah.

J: ...is things we fabricate, right? And so it becomes this warp for reality that we live in. Literally we live in a warped reality. It’s like trying to fix a weight problem with more meat lover’s pizza. And that’s what we do when we feel like we don’t have enough strength, or in a valley, or in a ditch, or discouraged, or depressed. We press into the things that haven’t been giving us what we hope they would give us, hoping that at some point we’ll break through and they’ll finally give us what it is we hope they will. It’s like attendance, right? In the church world. It’s like, man, we’re just discouraged over attendance, so what we’re going to do is we’re going to work harder, we’re going to think about it more, we’re going to fight about it more, we’re going to focus on it more.

R: And then we wonder why it makes you more miserable.

J: Yeah, it never gives you what it promises. It’s like money. Money always promises what only God can provide. And the same thing becomes true with these feelings of needing more strength, or finding our joy, or finding our hope, or finding freedom, finding fulfillment. It comes down to an identity issue that we found all the way back in the Garden with Adam and Eve. There’s an identity issue, right? Who told you? Who told you? There’s been this identity issue. And I think really born out of that is this chase for finding out who we are. This chase for finding freedom. This chase to find strength. This chase to find hope. This chase to find fulfillment. And really, I really believe, this sounds so simple, but I really believe that praise and gratitude unlock joy. An attitude of gratitude sustains joy. And if you have sustained gratitude, you’ll have sustained joy or continued gratitude, you’ll have sustained joy, and that joy will unlock the strength of God in your life in ways that resilience never would, focus never would, perseverance never would, hard work never would, a big church never would, a big business never would. The way to find true joy is to unlock the art of gratitude and ultimately it releases strengths to continue fighting the good race.

R: So I think for all of our listeners that the question we need to back up and ask is what brings us joy? And then go find time for that. Don’t just dig in, oh there are time

J: I would even say we have to ask what are we thankful for? What are we thankful for? I would even say after you get done listening to this podcast, here’s my challenge for you: Ask yourself, what do I have to be thankful for? If you like writing, write down the things you have to be thankful for. If you’re in ministry and you feel like you’re in a dry season, ask yourself, what do I have to be thankful for? And really look into what God has done through you that you were never deserving of, but you felt entitled to, write down the reasons you’re thankful for and then watch what happens. Because if you start focusing on the things you have to be thankful for, the blessings that God has given you, you’ll start to conjure up gratitude in your heart and I guarantee if you focus on the things you have to be thankful for, you will start to feel joyful. And I promise when you went to the office today, tomorrow, with a heart of gratitude and joy, people will see you as a person of more strength.

R: Yeah, and it’s magnetic. Absolutely.

J: The joy of the Lord is our strength. How do we find joy? We unlock the art of gratitude. Gratitude sustains joy, joy unlocks strengths. That’s the short version.

R: Awesome, thanks so much for tuning in!