“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” – Oprah Winfrey
Jesus performed a lot of miracles, and one of his first and most famous was when he turned water into wine. As his following grew, he was invited to many more dinners and celebrations (and he attended whenever he could, it seems). Even the last supper was a celebration. Jesus loved to feed people. He didn’t like people to go away hungry. The Bible is full of stories about how Jesus fed people, even when he had to turn a little food into a lot of food (see John 6:9-13).
He also told a lot of stories that involved feasts. In the story of the prodigal son, there was a huge feast to celebrate the lost son’s return! The feast was the main reaction to the son’s return home. And, after Jesus returned from the dead, what did he do? He prepared a meal of fish on the shore for his disciples! Obviously, Jesus was going out of his way to show us the importance of celebration and feast…
Even when Jesus talks about the afterlife, he gives a vision of a celebration by stating “I go to prepare a place setting for you”. It is more than obvious that Jesus made it a repeated point to show us that plentiful celebration is both appropriate and good.
Last week, we discussed gratitude, and gratitude is a close cousin of celebration. Gratitude is often a direct precursor of celebration. Jesus was grateful, and he was happy. And, he knew that he would eventually be returning to an even happier place. So, why not celebrate?!
In the United States (and like many other countries), we have a culture that demands progress.
From this culture, we attribute celebration to people who are productive. One of the drawbacks to this is an exhausting pace at which we move from task to task. The feeling that we need to constantly produce to maintain a sense of ourselves can be very draining. Leaders must be very aware of this fact, for themselves, but also for the people they are leading.
Jesus showed us that an important discipline is to not being consumed by “production”. We need the ability to recognize when to stop and celebrate.
In your own life, how often do you stop to celebrate your accomplishments? What is your built in plan to celebrate achieving goals? Incorporating celebration is an important part of leading yourself and others!
Beyond just having fun, I believe Jesus was trying to teach the power of celebration for the following reasons:
- It relieves stress. In the race to achieve, anxiety builds up, often in the background while we are completing tasks. Taking time that is not task or goal oriented gives a release of stress in a way that is good and healthy.
- It motivates. If you know something good is on the horizon, there is motivation to pursue the reward. Celebrating provides a powerful reminder of why you are pursuing your goals in the first place. Everyone loves to celebrate!
- It emphasizes excellence. As human beings, unfortunately, we are drawn to the negative. News is mostly negative; our self-talk tends to be overly negative. Taking the time to celebrate gives our psyche strong evidence of excellence.
- It shows appreciation. Particularly important when leading a group of people, taking the time to reflect and celebrate shows that you think about and appreciate the contributions that others are making. Want to have people continue to work hard? Don’t take them for granted.
- It creates energy (see week 6). Going from task to task, being dictated by deadlines, and knowing you must constantly produce to meet expectations can be very draining. Celebration stands in contrast. It means that the battle was won!
- It allows for a time of reflection and appreciation. Evaluation is paramount to achievement. In the moment, it is good to look at what went well – what allowed for the positive result and what can be improved upon? While celebrating, brainstorming about ways to improve is free of judgment, and that can be a very powerful time to generate new ideas.
- It can be “a moment”. As you press on and experience the ups and downs of life, you can enjoy reflecting on a moment marked by celebration to give yourself a psychological boost. Think of that celebration you had because you reached a goal. Good things are happening!
Celebration should be part of our lives. It is a habit, lives in your heart, and it needs to be planned.
How will you celebrate? How often?
I heard a pastor in Guatemala once state that “The antidote of envy is celebration.” So, don’t just celebrate yourself, celebrate others! It will be hard for you to be jealous or negative if you are constantly celebrating.
Jesus taught us to celebrate often, and he showed us that it was right and good! He set an example for other leaders to follow…you should follow it too.