Tips on Taking Care of Your Soul
In the pace of a busy ministry life, it is so easy to forget to take time for our personal needs. Many times we justify not doing so because of the importance of our work. There are students to disciple, forms to complete and messages to plan. However, in not caring for our own spiritual wellness, we can become counterproductive. Ultimately it is the Holy Spirit in us which should inform our work and the results of it. If we ignore that Spirit in us, then our work can become based on our own efforts, rather than Christ’s efforts in us. Here are few tips on how to care for your soul, so you can be the servant Christ created you to be.
1. Know and maintain the distinction between your work and your devotional life
This is a matter of the heart. Some ministry leaders suggest using different material for our messages then we use for our personal devotional life. Others say it’s ok to let those things overlap. I’m all for double dipping, but I have to make sure I begin my devotional study with prayer first, asking God to center me on personal growth as opposed to intellectual comprehension. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you take some time before hand to determine your goals and ask God to allow his Spirit to give you a focused mindset. If you’re preparing a message, use your study time as an opportunity to focus on the content and context, specifically in relationship to teaching. If it’s time for devotional study, ask the Lord to use His word to speak to you, and listen with your own life in mind. Ultimately our work and devotional life should be acts of worship, so you might just gain something from each, for each. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 reminds us,
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
As I write this I’m sitting in a Mexican restaurant about 20 minutes from my church office.Later this week, I might go on a day trip with my wife to a nearby city, leaving my phone at home, (However, my church secretary will know where I am and my wife will have her phone if there’s a need). Whether single or married, in the middle of the work week or on a weekend, we must take time to detach. Sometimes that means working out of the office in a place where you won’t be bothered. Other times it means getting out of constant contact for a few hours. The point here isn’t necessarily to not work during these off times, or to have no contact at all. Those things are important too, but aren’t always doable week in and week out. However escaping allows you some time alone to refresh and recharge. Use this time to get some of your more challenging work accomplished, or read that book that you meant to read 3 years ago, or just go on a 15 minute walk and pray to Christ for clarity. In the gospels we consistently see Christ take time alone to pray, and I believe that’s a model for us. Make the time, and the Lord will meet you there.
3. A place to express yourself
This list isn’t comprehensive, but on any list about soul care I would always include the following: have a person in your life you can be transparent with totally. Now there are a lot of reasons for this, inclusive of the bible’s directive to confess our sins to one another. This allows for accountability and encouragement.
Along with that, sometimes the burden we bear can cause us to nearly explode. In your ministry work you have seen, or will see the best and worst of humanity; heartbreaks, great joys, struggles, and success. While God equips us for this call, we are still human, and sometimes that can become a lot to bear. Being transparent with someone gives us an outlet, and allows us to express our true feelings, which sometimes our work necessitates we withhold. Now I’m not saying sin in your anger by ripping it privately to a friend about old Mr. so and so who wouldn’t let you play the Lecrae album at the beginning of worship because he thinks the Gaither’s are contemporary. However, in sharing how we truly feel with a genuine brother or sister in Christ, we can find some relief and ultimately some wise counsel from a fellow struggling believer. These kinds of relationships take a while to cultivate and you have to make sure you’ve found someone you can trust to point you to Jesus. However, the effort is well worth it in the end for your soul’s sake.
I encourage you to take some time to evaluate your circumstance and see where you can add some of these practices in your life and work. You’ll be a better minister for it and a better Christ follower too. If you need some help, or you’ve got some good ideas yourself, contact me, I’d love to hear from you.
William Moore is the Associate Pastor of Youth, Outreach, and Discipleship at Starnes Cove Baptist Church in Asheville, N.C. He is the husband of one wife (Sheila) and father of one cat (via adoption). He enjoys hiking, history/civics, chocolate, and the beach. Connect with William via email or Facebook.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.