Dallas Willard has written about the importance of soul care for those of us in ministry. He says,
The call of God to minister the gospel is a high honor and a noble challenge. It carries with it unique opportunities as well as special burdens and dangers for members of the clergy as well as their families. These burdens can be fruitfully born and the dangers triumphantly overcome. But that will not happen unless the minister's "inner person" (2 Cor. 4:16) is constantly renewed by accessing the riches of God and His kingdom in the inner person.
Willard's words are beautifully optimistic, but how exactly does a minister "access the riches of God and His kingdom in the inner person"? I don't recall that class being offered in seminary. Perhaps that's why spiritual directors are becoming so popular, but a good spiritual director can be difficult to find. It's not as easy as putting a personal ad in the paper:
SWM (Soul Weary Minister) seeks SMF (Spiritually Mature Friend) to help my inner person access God's riches and experience triumph in my soul. I like long prayer walks in the park, guided sabbatical retreats, and reciting the daily offices. My turn offs are elder board meetings, church budgets, and Mrs. Clark's mystery casserole. Please respond quickly, my soul needs urgent care.
Because the pastor's soul is a vital component of ministry, and caring for it can be a challenging responsibility, we'll be tackling the subject in an upcoming issue of Leadership. What keeps our souls fueled for ministry? What bleeds them dry? And what can we do to maintain our soul's health and vitality? These are questions many of us might ask a spiritual director, but they are also questions pastors should be asking each other.
So, we are inviting you to share the practices you engage to keep your soul healthy and equipped for ministry. Tell us about the practice, how it nourishes your soul, and why other pastors should consider it for themselves. Be sure to include your name, your church, and your city. We'll be compiling the list of soul-feeding spiritual practices in the spring issue of Leadership.