Quick! Think of a list of the top ten characteristics of a spiritual person. No doubt your list included love and humility. Perhaps you thought of the gift of being a good listener or the trait of patience. Here’s a vital one that is sometimes missed: The ability to throw a good party!
That ought to be on everyone’s top ten list. Spiritual people know how to have a good time. They are full of joy. In fact, the Bible commands people to be joyful: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4
In Richard Foster’s awesome book, Celebration of Discipline, he discusses the disciplines, the practices that people have used down through the ages to draw close to God and to grow in their spiritual lives. He discusses classics like meditation, solitude, and worship. And he saves for last one of my favorites: Celebration.
Spiritual people know how to celebrate. They know how to give thanks and let their joy overflow. To say it again, they know how to throw a good party.
But how exactly do you throw a good party? How do you really let loose and give thanks? After some research and thought, here are several ideas.
First, include others in your good times. Norton, a professor at the Harvard Business School, co-wrote a book titled “Happy Money: The Science Of Smarter Spending.” One of his basic conclusions was that buying more and more stuff is not the way to be happy. Spending money having experiences with others was. Real joy isn’t about stuff. It’s about relationships.
Second, focus on others. Real joy happens with others, and also for others. A good party happens when the host focuses on his guests. So, for example, the Malibu Beach Recovery Center has a webpage devoted to how to throw a sober party that the recovering alcoholic could attend and enjoy. Focus on others. The Bible suggests that that is one way to find some joy in even our darkest times and struggles. When we realize that what we are going through will allow us to help others in the same situation that brings purpose and with it, some joy.
Third, focus on faith and the long view. Foster notes in his book that few things stop celebration as quickly as worry. We need a faith in a loving God who will provide and will see us through the deepest valleys. On the other side we will have grown and we will be one step closer to our true home with him.
Alan Cohen in his book “The Dragon Doesn’t Live Here Anymore: Loving Freely, Living” says this: “When we see life in clear focus, it is always giving us enough.” He goes on to talk of a potluck at his house where, by accident, everyone brought a dessert. “’Perfect!’ we declared. ‘This is our opportunity to celebrate.’ Celebrate what? I don’t exactly remember. We just celebrated.’”
So celebrate! Throw a party filled with laughter and good times and good people. All the spiritual people are doing it.
Rick Cupp is Minister of the Kenai Fellowship. Sunday Bible classes are at 10:00 a.m., coffee at 10:45 a.m. and worship at 11:15 a.m. The Wednesday meal is at 6:15 p.m., Bible classes and worship 7-7:30 p.m.