In our last post, Now Is The Time For Radical Self-Care we introduced the concept of “radical self-care” for church leaders. A vitally important subset of radical self-care is “soul care,” especially for the church leader. What is soul care? Soul care is the nurturing your inner spiritual life, your soul.
Then what is “radical soul care?” Radical soul care includes at least two components. First, radical soul care involves ruthlessly protecting and prioritizing your own soul care over that of others. It’s necessary to fill your cup first, then to give to others from the overflow. Second, it must differ significantly from your usual routine of spiritual practices. At times you have to break your routine to keep growing and to stay motivated. Soul care with these two components is “radical” because it fundamentally alters how you make choices around your own spiritual growth and well-being.
Other Attributes of Radical Soul Care
Beyond these two foundational concepts, radical soul care might involve the following contrasts.
- Intentional rather than perfunctory.
- First on your list rather than secondary.
- Consistent rather than sporadic.
- Life-giving rather than boring.
- Varied rather than uniform.
- Personalized rather than prescribed.
- Multi-disciplined rather than one dimensional.
Mostly it’s about being daily present to your own soul care ‒ caring for your inner spiritual life in an intentional way.
Radical Soul Care Ideas
Below are some activities that might add the element of “radical” to your soul care practices.
Try spiritual disciplines and practices that are new to you. Look outside the preferred practices of your faith tradition. “The Sacred Way” by Tony Jones is an excellent resource for understanding the history, theology, and practice behind many ancient spiritual disciplines.
Plan a spiritual retreat. Set aside one day a month to go where you can be alone and spend a day with God. Once a year take a spiritual retreat week or weekend.
Practice silence and solitude. Silence and solitude are foundational to your soul care. Simply sit in your church’s sanctuary or chapel during the busiest time of your day. Find a go to place outdoors that is removed from the sound of traffic.
Understand your preferred spiritual pathways. Take John Ortberg’s assessment in his book “An Ordinary Day with Jesus,” or Gary Thomas’s assessment in “Sacred Pathways” to discover the ways you connect best with God. Prioritize these pathways in your soul care.
Experience a biblical Sabbath. Read Marva Dawn’s “Keeping the Sabbath Wholly” and Wayne Muller’s “Sabbath” for transforming ideas on how clergy can experience true Sabbath.
Take a pilgrimage. In the spirit of ancient believers, travel and spend time at a historical religious site, or to a place that had significant meaning in your spiritual journey.
Attend a small group that you do not lead. Rarely are church leaders in a prayer or bible study group that they do not lead. This may mean meeting with a group from another church or with leaders from other churches.
Always be reading a book on prayer or other spiritual disciplines. There are countless books on prayer and the spiritual disciplines. Reading from one daily will provide you fresh approaches to your spiritual growth regimen.
Meet with a spiritual director or mentor. As a spiritual leader you are typically ahead of those you are trying to lead. Meeting occasionally with someone who is ahead of you in your spiritual journey can be catalytic to continued growth.
Incorporate a diversity of spiritual reading. Besides the bible, reading of spiritual books from authors outside of your denomination, or even faith tradition, can provide insights you would not otherwise experience.
Create an Annual Soul Care Plan. Consider setting an annual plan of spiritual growth around spiritual disciplines, experiences, and relationships. Click HERE for an example and a blank template.
Complete a Spiritual Rule of Life Plan. Drawn from an ancient Jesuit practice, a Spiritual Rule of Life, similar to the above Annual Soul Care Plan, provides an outline of exactly how you will pursue your spiritual growth around practices, experiences and relationships. To learn more about establishing a Rule of Life Plan click HERE.
Radical soul care is unapologetically taking care of your spiritual growth needs first, however that may look. Radical soul care is the often difficult and time intensive inner work that means making decisions and taking actions that prioritize your own inner spiritual self, well-being and growth.
Posted on March 29, 2022