Are You a Happy Leader? | Terry A. Smith

Are You a Happy Leader?

"There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy."
- Robert Lewis Stevenson


Have you ever worked on a team with an unhappy leader? Not just a leader who is having a bad day, or even a bad week, but one who seems to – day in, day out – project an overall feeling of just plain misery.

It's no fun.

And, what's worse, it has a way of affecting the whole team. Unhappiness is contagious. But the good news is that happiness is contagious too. And that's why it’s so incredibly vital for us, as leaders, to make sure our spirit is in the right place.

For years, I undervalued happiness. It seemed fleeting and fickle. I didn't understand the value God places on this emotion. Jesus even said that the reward for a life well-lived would be to "come and share your master's happiness!"

This is a big deal to God – because he is an eternally happy being and he wants to share that with us. The Apostle Paul referred to the "glory of the blessed God" and called him a "blissful God."

He wants us to be happy – in the true meaning of the word. It's the feeling you have when you're living life in view of its ultimate meaning. Or, as Paul says in Romans 5: "Since we have been made right with God by our faith, we have peace with God. This happened through our Lord Jesus Christ, who through our faith has brought us into that blessing of God’s grace that we now enjoy. And we are happy because of the hope we have of sharing God’s glory.”

As leaders, the happiness stakes are even higher. Our attitude will ultimately affect the attitude of every single person on our team. Daniel Goleman puts it this way: "Like secondhand smoke, the leakage of emotions can make a bystander an innocent casualty to someone else's toxic state." Ouch.

Many people think they'll be happy when something good happens to them. But it's actually the opposite. Good things tend to happen because we're happy. Isn't it truer that a happy person will create a happy marriage, rather than becoming happy through a good marriage?

Happiness is putting the horse before the cart. And real happiness, the kind that comes from God, can only be found when we have hope – the anticipation that something good is coming. It’s the happy feeling we get when we think about the good things God has planned for our future, especially in the context of his plans for the redeemed world.

When we’re in that state of mind, we're better leaders, better spouses, and just better people in general. In addition, we're in a much healthier place that allows us to positively influence everyone around us. And that's exactly what God has called hospitable leaders to do.


Terry A. Smith is the author of the new book The Hospitable Leader: Create Environments Where People And Dreams Flourish. He has served as Lead Pastor of The Life Christian Church for twenty-seven years. TLCC - a non-denominational faith community with campuses in West Orange and Paramus, New Jersey – is known for its vibrant diversity and robust leadership culture with people from more than 132 distinct communities in the New York City Metro area participating in the life of the church.