This week we have tackled the topic of the pastor's soul care. And, this week, I (Jeff) have experienced the proverbial "death by a thousand paper cuts" in regards to my ministry soul. More than a dozen comments and conversations that, by themselves, would be fairly benign, have all landed in this week, and bundled together have dragged my soul down and caused my ministry enthusiasm and passion to wane.
I realized this was happening today, and I consciously determined I should figure out what to do about it. How could I restore my soul to a place of energy and passion in my pursuit of shepherding the flock - loving, leading, and teaching the people in my church? I realized tonight that I used 5 ways to nurture my pastoral soul:
1. I talked about it. This morning I had a significant conversation with my wife. After that, but just prior to Jonny and I having our final major prep session for our Sunday message, I shared my thoughts with him. It worked. My thoughts did disentangle themselves as they passed through my lips. My wife and my associate helped me to make sense of them as well. I was not crazy alone, I had two others join me!
2. I prayed about it. Talking to God allowed me to have some perspective on those "thousand paper cuts." Prayer reminds me who I am serving, who I am loving, who is helping and empowering me in ministry, and that I really should never rely on my own abilities or strengths - but his.
3. I disconnected those dozen comments/conversations. When all clumped together, they seem formidable and ugly, like a pack of wild dogs intent on taking me down. But when I mentally disconnect them, separate them, and put them into perspective, they lose their power. It's not as bad as I thought it was. His comment was hardly so caustic, her email not as biting.
4. I remembered why I was in ministry in the first place. God called me. He wired me for this. He promised to always walk with me through ministry. He pulled me out of an unlikely upbringing, and set my path on serving others, loving God, and giving my life for the Gospel. Sometimes you just have to live the "good news" in the form of patience, long-suffering, humility, and even just being willing to be dumped on now and then. God called me to love people and share truth. Oh yeah, that is why I'm in ministry. It's good to just remind yourself once in a while...
5. This may sound old-fashioned, but I consciously counted my blessings. I have so much to be thankful for, and when I focus on those things more than my "thousand paper cuts" of critical comments and conversations, my attitude changes and my soul is refreshed. In fact, I have EVERYTHING to live for, give thanks for, and get moving for. The question for me is - what am I going to focus on, some critical comments and conversations, or the really important stuff of life?
So those are the five things I did to nurture my ministry soul back to vibrancy today. I talked about it, prayed about it, tried to put things in perspective, reminded myself of God's calling on my life, and specifically counted my blessings.
How are YOU doing Pastor? Jonny and I hope you are doing well. We hope that you are being reminded again this week that your pastoral SOUL is so important - it's YOU. It's who you are on the inside. It's that beautiful person that God made you to be, to care for his wonderful, precious sheep that he's herded over to your pen for protection and provision.
Your soul is the reservoir, the repository, of your ministry energy, pastoral care giving, and preaching/teaching content. Feed it, nurture it, and prioritize it. Take time to sit in wonder of God. Allow him to love you and enthuse you with his grace and power. May your soul bask in the sunlight of the Spirit, and be filled to overflowing with the love and heart of Jesus.
Pastor - for this weekend, leave all your talents, gifts, and abilities at home. Go and preach and teach in the power of the Holy Spirit, the heart of Jesus, and the love of the Father. See what God is going to do through you in the lives of your congregation. No matter the size of your church - YOU and YOUR PEOPLE matter huge in the Kingdom of God!
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