The longer I am in ministry the more convinced I become that any God honoring effectiveness I experience is a direct result of the cultivation of my inner spiritual life. Most in ministry would say the same, but few of us believe it enough to incorporate the spiritual disciplines, practices and habits necessary to consistently maintain our inner spiritual life.
What results for most of us is an accumulation of knowledge without discernment and wisdom, and charisma and hard work instead of spiritual power and strength. But, when we lead from our inner spiritual life, our own resources are multiplied and combined with God’s resources for transformation and Kingdom growth.
Cultivating the Care of Your Soul
Cultivating a piece of land involves plowing, weeding, cutting, digging, raking and planting. Cultivating our inner spiritual life, our soul, requires not shovels and saws but the tools of worship, contemplation, prayer, reflection and dozens of soul nourishing disciplines and practices shared in books by Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, Dallas Willard, Gary Thomas, and Donald Whitney, to name a few.
After several years of living in the high desert of Northern New Mexico I am still surprised by the beauty that occurs seemingly overnight after a rainfall. Wildflowers pop up in the most unlikely of places, cactus begin to bloom, and wildlife appear to sip from the pools of water. When our inner spiritual lives are similarly nourished, the fruits of God’s Spirit and love blooms in our outer lives.
Every church leadership conference I attend or read about seems to emphasize organizational leadership: mission, vision, values, cutting edge technology, church structure, and generation relevant programming. All of which I believe are necessary and I am passionate about. But, all too often what is missing is the mention that the cultivation of a leader’s inner spiritual life must precede church building and multiplication. How do you grow a church and God’s Kingdom without first growing the soul of church leaders? Thomas Merton wisely reminds us that “our rushing river of doing for God must be fed by a still lake of being with God.”
Therefore, if our ministry is to be reflective of God’s character and purposes, cultivating our inner spiritual lives is the primary work of the church leader, and Paul’s words to Timothy in I Timothy 4:7-8, should be our guide: “Train yourself to be godly……”
Posted on September 12, 2017