Have you ever experienced driving on the road and everything is well and fine. Then all of a sudden, you look down and your heart sinks to the bottom of your feet. The check engine light goes on. What do you do? Do you pull over? Maybe you drive straight to the mechanic? Can you just ignore it?
I can tell you what I’ve done…I’ve ignored it. I had a 1996 Nissan sentra and I had the check engine light go on. At first I was nervous, but I got busy and thought, “I can’t afford to fix this.” So I kept driving more and more and more. For FIVE YEARS I drove with the light on! Everything seemed to be working…until it was no longer working.
Then my car literally fell apart. Piece by piece, because I didn’t want to pull over, get it checked out. In the same way, those of us that are preachers and teachers have the capacity to keep preaching and teaching and leading and counseling until we literally destroy ourselves. When we’ve gotten to the point of emotional exhaustion or burn-out we end up doing terrible damage to ourselves and others. That is why it is so important to develop habits and rhythms of Soul Care in our lives.
Over the next few weeks, I want to explore the idea of SOUL CARE for preachers. Soul care is the care of the spiritual side of us for the sake of others. It is developing habits, rhythms and boundaries so that we can function the way God has designed us to function. Steven Covey uses this example:
If you had 3 hours to chop down a section of forest, how would you spend your time? Most people would just start cutting down until their three hours was up. Covey, says to spend the first hour sharpening the saw then you’ll cut more trees and be more effective.
I think he’s right. When I spend time investing and caring for my soul, I get a better return on investment. I am peaceful; less harried. I am more sensitive to God’s voice; and less driven by the urgent. I can hear from God clearly; and am able to share it more boldly.
The first anchor is self-awareness. At all times, there are underground influences that determine our thoughts, beliefs and behaviors that we aren’t aware of. These come from a variety of sources: family of origin, presuppositions, unforgiveness, unprocessed pain, and broken expectations.
In order to properly care for our soul, we need to have an idea of where we are. And self-awareness helps us do that. I recently listened to a podcast by Michael Hyatt on this topic.
Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you. – 1 Timothy 4:16
In my journey I went to see a counselor and it was an incredible experience. I had someone that I could speak to that was neutral who I could pour everything out with and was able to reflect back what I was thinking but also able to give me correctives as well. If I ran a seminary or Christian college I would make going to a counselor part of the curriculum.
Healing prayer or transformational prayer has many versions. It has been called the healing of memories, emotional healing, inner healing, theophostic healing. This is healing of the emotions and the heart not just the body. I’ve gone under a few of these experiences and have always left feeling set-free, empowered and lighter. I can’t say enough about being able to enter into healing and freedom in Christ through this avenue. This is about identifying and destroying the lies that we may have believed.
Emotional Healthy Spirituality by Pete and Gerri Scazzero- This series of books is phenomenal and has been the beginning point for many on the journey. Emotionally Healthy Church was the first and was all about how your church can grow in emotional health. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality is about the integration of emotional health and contemplative prayer. Then there is the Emotionally Healthy Woman and Emotionally Healthy Leaders. All of them are phenomenal books.
Personal Spiritual Formation by Ron Walborn – This is small group curriculum for a group to go through to learn the spiritual disciplines of going deeper in our relationship with Jesus.
The Bondage Breaker by Neil Anderson – This is a book about how we can incorporate the Truth of Jesus in our lives. We need a Truth encounter to experience life change through Christ.
Next week we’ll explore Spiritual Disciplines as part of soul care.