Leadership #4, Emotion is Your Enemy - Bottom of the Ninth #142

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Bottom of the 9th - Emotion is Your Enemy

"Emotion is Your Enemy" John Wooden's Leadership Lesson #4 by Keith Wahl

John Wooden wrote 12 Leadership Lessons that enhance our understandings of leadership and success. These 12 lessons will be the focus of Bottom of the Ninth for 12 weeks.

We had a funny moment after our indoor practice on Saturday. Our pitchers had been throwing live to our hitters for live competition, and it was a strong practice. One of our coaches noted that a few of the pitchers got emotional after failure and that ended up in more failure. His encouragement to those pitchers was to remove the emotion, and recommended that the players speak to me if they wanted to learn how to remove emotion from a situation. He finished by saying, "Sometimes I wonder if Coach Wahl even has a heart," and the group gave a good chuckle.

It's funny how many times through the course of this John Wooden writing that life intersected with the topic for the week. A coach says that about me on Saturday, and this week I'm writing on "Emotion is Your Enemy." It's something beyond irony or coincidence - it has to be the Holy Spirit. I certainly have a heart, and was surprised someone thought I had such great control over my emotions. I still experience all of the emotions highlighted in the Pixar film Inside Out on a regular basis!

We know cliches like: "Manage your emotions. Don't let your emotions manage you." and "Emotional peaks lead to emotional valleys." I've attempted to live this way and keep a lid on my emotions as best as I can. Professionally as I teach and coach, I've grown exponentially in this area. This is certainly clear as the coach who made the comment has been around me for the better part of a decade. Personally as a husband and father, I still have my moments. There has been improvement there as well, but emotions can still get the best of me at home.

I've noticed two problems in the area of emotion. First, in our human flesh, we are incapable of controlling our emotions by ourselves. The Bible is clear on this. Second, Jesus showed a lot of emotions - maybe his mastery was having the right emotions in the right contexts.

Paul wrote this late in his letter to the Galatians (5:22-23):

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

As a fruit of the Holy Spirit, Paul's contention is that self-control, along with the rest of the list, are only available through the Spirit offered by Christ's death and resurrection. We are incapable of doing this on our own. Recognizing this is an incredibly important step in the process.

Second, and maybe most importantly, it's important to remember that Jesus experienced emotions. A lot of them. Anger - Jesus threw some tables around that one time. Grief - remember Jesus mourned Lazarus before raising him. Joy and Love - yes, Jesus had plenty of good times as well. The danger in over-controlling your emotions is losing the last two - Joy and Love. Life is full of great moments, blessing from the Lord, and we can commune with Him in those moments as readily as we can in the moments of Anger and Grief.

May we give ourselves the grace to recognize that we need to Holy Spirit to exhibit self-control, and express the right emotions in the right contexts. Emotions out of control from the Spirit and out of context are the enemy, but not emotions themselves.

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