I was countlessly praised for “doing it all.” Every time I would hear this, I would wear it as a badge of honor. I felt I was “doing” a lot and doing it well. In reality, I was exhausted. If I’m really honest, those closest to me got the short end of the stick.
In the beginning, God created, and God rested. I am not suggesting we follow this exact pattern rigorously, but rather that God Himself found the value in rest and set an example for us to follow. The Greek translated as “rest” can also be translated as: cause to cease, relief, remain silent, revive, and more.
Instead of finding worth in the things we do, it’s time to find worth in “being.” The ministry God is doing in you impacts the ministry God is doing through you. Therefore, it is essential that we are intentional in developing healthy rhythms in caring for our souls.
I have people in my sphere of influence who I permit to speak truth into my life. I once had someone tell me that she filters things by reminding herself that “no one will die if I don’t send this email today.” There is always more to be done, so if you are not intentional about stopping, you never will.
Who are the people around you who can help hold you accountable for turning off your computer, putting your phone down, or going for a walk? These need to be people who are with you regularly—family members, close friends, or colleagues.
Right now, name five people who could help you be accountable. Reach out to those people and let them know your tipping points. If they notice that you are short with those around you, would they ask you how you are caring for your soul?
Human relationships are hard, and this isn’t any different working in ministry. I remember before I stepped onto staff at our church, thinking that the work environment would be filled with Christian love and joy every minute of every day—after all, it’s a church.
I quickly realized that my naïve idea of kumbaya was not reality. The church is made of people who are sinners and are tempted in their flesh just as anyone else is. There will be people you don’t like, times when meetings get heated, and disagreements with leadership that will arise.
We can be really good at sweeping things under the rug and not dealing with them. This is not the example we see in Scripture. Lament is a practice that leads us to a place of acknowledging the pains, hurts, and losses while remembering who God is and the hope and promises He provides.
When we create space for soul care, we acknowledge and create space to name the pains of ministry. Peter Scazzero warns, “When we deny our pain, losses, and feelings year after year, we become less and less human. We transform slowly into empty shells with smiley faces painted on them.”
“Let’s go around, and everyone share one thing you do to care for yourself.” My friend, Sarah, started and one by one, a group of five women answered the question. For some, the answer was easy, and for others, it was a realization that something needed to change.
Rich Villodas warns that “… unless we live with an intentional commitment to slow down, we have no hope for a quality of life that allows Jesus to form us into his image.” God delights in us and wants us to find space to delight in His creation and in others. This will look different for each person.
For some, it is going out for breakfast with a good friend, a walk with your significant other, attending a concert, taking a nap, going away for a weekend, practicing weekly sabbath, taking a silent retreat, or even writing a rule of life. What is something you do to care for yourself? If you are not intentional about creating this practice, you can easily fall into the temptation to continue to be a “human doer.”
Does it feel like you don’t know where to begin? Here are a few of my favorite books on caring for your soul:
- Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton
- Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero
- The Deeply Formed Life by Rich Villodas
May the God who created the Heavens and the earth remind you to steward the time He gives you to “be.” And may that space of soul care be a blessing to you as a child of the most high God.