A key component of spiritual leadership is helping others tap into what nourishes their soul… Learning to be present to the One who is always present.
“Behold God is my helper; the Lord is the sustainer of my soul.” Psalm 54: 4 NASB
“The great malady of 20th century implicated in all of our trouble and affecting us individually and socially is ‘loss of soul.” Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul,xi
1. What is soul and what is soul care? 2. What do the ancient practices of Israel and ritual have to do with the forming of my soul? 3. What is the current state of your soul? What nourishes your soul? 4. How will you respond to the Lord’s invitation?
Soul, most common translation of Hebrew nephesh and Greek word psyche, connoting self or person. Soul is “..the whole person, including the body, but with particular focus on the inner world of thinking, feeling and willing.” David G. Benner, Care of Souls,22
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5 “Then he answered and said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26
“What is running your life at any given moment is your soul. Not external circumstances, or your thoughts, or your intentions, or even your feelings, but your soul. The soul is that aspect of your whole being that correlates, integrates, and enlivens everything going on in the various dimensions of the self….”
It is the life‑center of the human being. It regulates whatever is occurring in each of those dimensions and how they interact with each other and respond to surrounding events in the overall governance of your life. The soul is ‘deep’in the sense of being basic or foundational and also in the sense that it lies almost totally beyond conscious awareness.” Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart, 199.
Soul Conscious Often unconscious but all the time gathering soul forming data
The English phrase “care of souls” that from the Latin curaanimarumcarries the idea of both care and cure.
“Soul care is the care of persons in their totality, with particular attention to their inner lives.” David G. Benner, Care of Souls, 22
Soul Care- the essence of soul care is about strengthening our personal presence in the presence of Christ – immersion in the Trinitarian Presence. Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart, 250
“ …that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me… I in them and you in me to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17: 21, 23
“Care of the soul begins with observance of how the soul operates. We can’t care for the soul unless we are familiar with how it operates.” Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul 5
Often the soul is hiding because it is not safe to come out because of all the distractions and defenses to keep the soul from speaking. The soul will speak when given an opportunity and enough time in silence and solitude.
Symptoms are often the voice of the soul. The disruptions we experience from the thirst we try to satisfy with illegitimate things- anything we do or use to make our lives work apart from God.
Where do you go, or to what do you turn, to soothe or silence your soul pain?
2. What do the ancient practices of Israel and ritual have to do with the forming of my soul?
God formed the soul of Israel through daily, weekly, monthly, yearly rituals, sacrifices, offerings and feasts. Jesus modeled obedience to these practices as a way of caring for his own soul. He withdrew in solitude to commune with the Father. He prayed. He fasted. He engaged the scriptures.
These historic spiritual disciplines make space in our lives for God to form our souls- solitude and silence, scriptures, prayer, spiritual friendship, fasting, corporate worship…
What has been your experience with spiritual practices in the past? What form did they take?
“Jesus did not give us a plan for spiritual formation that will fail and He has resources to see to it that it does not.” Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart, 250
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more that watchmen wait for the morning.” Psalm 130:5-6 NIV “…continue to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in you both to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13 “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Romans 12:2
Curt Thompson M.D., Christian Psychiatrist, in Anatomy of the Soul, 2010 discusses the structuring of the neuropathways, the plasticity of the brain and the connection to ritual, repetitive activities that influence the formation of our souls. Soul includes emotion, cognition, spirit, behavior, will.
“New findings in the fields of neuroscience and attachment offer a fresh means…these new discoveries about how the brain and interpersonal relationships shape each other are a reflection of what has been passed down in the oral tradition; written in the stories, poetry, and instruction of the Scriptures; and experienced by the people of God for nearly four thousand years.” Thompson, Anatomy of the Soul, (4-5).
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
Thompson references Dr. Daniel Siegel, The Developing Mind 1999. “In his articulation of interpersonal neurobiology [Seigel’s model proposed for understanding the mind], Seigel sheds further light on the significance of the intersection of neuroscience and mindful spirituality. Integrating our understanding of the mind and behavioral development, along with our spirituality, is now becoming a well-accepted, necessary paradigm for engaging our interpersonal and cultural problems.” Thompson, Anatomy of the Soul,(7).
The question of the early Wesleyan Methodists’ small cell bands of accountability when they greeted each other: “How is it with your soul?”
American adults receive 16,000 sensory images per day. In the year 2000 – estimated *new web site every 2 sec; *new products every 30 min; *world’s knowledge doubles every 18 mos.
According to the New York Times (August 1, 2010) “Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs is they could.”
H.B. London, Pastors at Great Risk 33% felt burned out in their first 5 years of ministry 40% of pastors and 47% of pastor’s wives – greatest danger to them is physical, emotional, mental and spiritual burnout. 70% - no close friends 1,500 pastors leave their ministries each month due to burnout, conflict or moral failure
What is the impact on our souls of living in the fast lane? the speed of technology? the volume of sound? multiple sensory images?
Symptoms of soul neglect: self- absorption, shame, apathy, toxic anger, physical fatigue, isolation, stronger temptation to sin, drivenness, feelings of desperation, panic, insecurity, callousness, a judgmental attitude, cynicism and lack of desire for God.
Signs of soul health: love, joy, compassion, giving and receiving grace, generosity of spirit, peace, ability to trust, discernment, humility, creativity, visions, balance and focus. Mindy Caliquire, Discovering Soul Health, 14
“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.” Psalm 42:8 “Examine me, O Lord, and try me; Test my mind and my heart.” Psalm 26:2
4. How will you respond to the Lord’s invitation? A key component of spiritual leadership is helping others tap into what nourishes their soul. Learning to be present to the One who is always present.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest from your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me besides quiet waters, he restores my soul.” Psalm 23:1-3 “But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.” Psalm 130:2