Friday, September 12, 2008

The Pastor's Spiritual Life

I found an article on the The Pastor's Spiritual Life I encourage you to link to. I really appreciated the article and couldn't agree more!

I have been a pastor for 19 years. About halfway through that journey, a series of experiences cracked open the hard outer shell of my heart and I realized how empty I was on the inside. I was functioning well and doing a good job, but not attentive to the hidden cave of my own soul. I found spiritual formation experiences to be lifegiving water, first through retreats at the monastery and then through the Academy for Spiritual Formation. There was an immense and intense cavern of emptiness within me that I was trying to deny and hide from my own consciousness, yet it was just waiting to be explored. When Christ's healing light began to shine on that hidden space, it became quite a beautiful journey of discovery.

We live in such a functional, success-driven culture that I think pastors unfortunately do not discover this deep truth unless they make it through a time of heartache or struggle and rediscover their thirst for God.

We are so much more prone to "doing" than "being". The key is growing to abide in Christ, the true vine, and trust in him for the fruit. We abide through making time and space for God to do soul work in us.

I would add one thing to what they have written in the article. They note the important disciplines of prayer, scripture meditation, and silence. These are indeed means of grace, but I would add authentic, honest community (through a covenant group, spiritual direction, etc.) as a necessary ingredient. This was the power of the Methodist society, so we should be the first to recognize its importance in our spiritual formation. Our spirituality can not burn brightly when void of relationship and loving, mutual accountability.

There is much focus on effectiveness in ministry, but the article has rightly shown that we define that effectiveness so narrowly, and usually in merely functional ways. Perhaps our lack of fuller vision is a byproduct of our denominational anxiety about institutional loss. For me, it is all about finding my holy center in God.