I thought I was beyond this by now. After almost five years of ordained pastoral ministry, I thought I had a handle on my calling and rhythm for ministry. But fall has just begun and I’m already feeling tired! So I spent considerable time in solitude and silence with the Lord yesterday as I sought to rest and renew. Part of my plan for renewal was to consult with one of my spiritual mentors in writing, Dallas Willard. So I pulled The Great Omission (HarperOne, 2006) off the shelf, and reviewed his chapter on “Personal Soul Care for Ministers . . . and Others.” This was exactly what I needed, so I thought I’d share a couple of quotes with you.
The call of God to minister the gospel is both 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 dangers triumphantly overcome. But that will not happen unless the minister’s “inner person” (2 Corinthians 4:16) is constantly renewed by accessing the riches of God and His Kingdom in the inner person. (122)
The first and most basic thing we can and must do is to keep God before our minds. David knew this secret and wrote, “I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure” (Psalm 16:8-9). (125)
Among the practices that can help us attend to soul care at a basic level are solitude and silence. We practice these by finding ways to be alone and away from talk and noise. We rest, we observe, we “smell the roses”–dare we say it?–we do nothing. This discipline can be used as a means of grace. In it we may even find another reminder of grace–that we are saved, justified by His redeeming power, not by our strivings and achievements (129-130)
I thank the Lord for Willard, who has reminded me of the importance of practicing solitude and silence. May the Lord help us to do what is in our power to care for our souls, so that we can minister out of His fullness.