The Importance of Living and Leading with Two Emotions Simultaneously

How are you doing today?

You could get two different answers depending on when you ask me. I can look at a difficult situation and, in some moments, aggressively quote Scripture at the situation – “If God is for me, who can be against me?” Bring it on. And then in other moments, I can be filled with anxious thoughts and the Scriptures I quote are more like “Lord, why do you stand far off?” I am sure I am not the only one who is toggling between multiple emotions when leading in the midst of a global pandemic. You can admit it. We are in good company as the “man after God’s own heart” toggled too.

When David lived on the run from the narcissistic and egomaniac king Saul, he hid in a cave. From the cave David penned two Psalms – two very different Psalms. Psalm 142 is filled with despair as David brings a complaint before the Lord. Psalm 57 is filled with hope and confidence as he declares the Lord to be his refuge, the One worthy of waking up the dawn to sing to, and the One who is fulling His purpose for David. Same person. Same cave. Same situation. Two different prayers. What does this mean?

The fact that the Bible shows us different emotions from the same person in the same cave reminds us that the Lord knows and understands us. We are complex people. We can hold multiple emotions towards the same event in our lives. When living and leading in a challenging time we can experience both grief and peace, disappointment and faith-filled optimism, a sense of being overwhelmed and hope for the future. It is not only possible to hold multiple emotions at the same time; it is necessary in times like this. Here are three reasons it is important to live and lead with multiple emotions at the same time.

1. Prevents us from being plastic.

To force ourselves to only display positive emotions when a context is challenging is to force ourselves to lose credibility. Because we must be either heartless or dishonest. When a situation is difficult it is completely appropriate, and necessary, to acknowledge the challenge and to share our disappointment in the midst of the challenge. By doing so we are willing to be authentic and transparent with those we love and lead. This is true with anyone we are responsible to lead — our families, our teams, our churches, etc.

2. Positions us to lead into the future.

This is not to say that we should not express hope or point out exciting opportunities that exist. The opposite is true. When we are honest that “not everything is awesome,” then we can rally people towards what really is – towards the opportunities in front of us. As Christians we should be optimistic and excited for the future. We are the ones who grieve with hope. We are the ones who know the Lord is going to build His Church.

3. Helps us love others well.

By living with both grief and joy, we are better equipped to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” With authenticity we are able to celebrate with people as great moments are taking place in their lives and we are able to grieve with people who are struggling.

How are you doing today?