Emotional Contagion

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Ever noticed how contagious yawns can be? Recently, a church singer told me he accidentally yawned on stage and subsequently counted 23 congregants yawning immediately afterward!

No surprise, perhaps, that emotions spread from person to person just as easily. That’s exactly why you and I tend to avoid those negative, continuously depressed family members. They bring us down!

It’s also the reason everyone loves to be around energetic and optimistic people: they pump us up!

There’s even a body of research devoted to the phenomenon which is called “emotional contagion.”

Here’s why I believe this reality matters to you as a pastor. People pick up on and are influenced by your emotional state - energy, optimism, pessimism, excitement, depression - whether you intend for them to or not. Your emotions influence others.

That’s exactly you and I as leaders should monitor and master our emotional thermostat. Otherwise, we will not affect others the way we want.

I’m not talking about stifling or suppressing emotions. Fact is, try to do that and your real emotions “leak out” anyway.

I am saying we have the power to regulate our emotional state in concrete ways: release resentments, examine and correct our self-talk, encourage ourselves in the Lord, take our discouragements to God in prayer.

Romans 12:15 seems to imply something similar: love enables us to regulate our emotions in consideration of others. The New Living Translation presents it as, “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.”

My challenge to you this week: stay aware of your emotional state and if it becomes sour and dour, find prayerful ways to change your thinking and exert the energy and optimism of a godly leader!

Dr. JeannieComment