Many would refer to this as soul searching. The misconception of this terminology is the assumption that the object of one’s search has never been found. In other words, the very use of the word searching implies that, like an archeological dig, one is searching for something that has never been seen or found before in our lifetime. This would mislead us in believing that the soul is something that most of us have never possessed. I’d like to open a different door of discovery to suggest that instead of soul searching I have been soul connecting.
I would think that it may be of interest to know what the pastor of your church, the journey of your friend, or the passion of your “spiritual leader” has been up to these days. In addition to the daily schedule and administrative responsibilities of serving a large church, where is my current focus and the “treasure of my heart.” I’m glad that you asked.
I have been soul connecting. According to the scriptures, I was born with one: “…the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7). Psalm 139 speaks of God’s intimate knowledge of us, “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 138:13). The funny thing about babies, they are born with a lot of inner and outer parts that they have no clue what to do with or how to make them work properly. If we do not have a parent to guide us or a mentor to educate us then the idea that our legs were made to stand on might be a foreign concept. So too with one’s soul. Ruth Haley Barton defines the soul as “the place where we connect/find God most personally.”
I recently had the opportunity to hear Barton speak and I bought and just finished her book, “Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry.” What have I been up to? I have been learning to walk on my soul’s legs with her guidance. I have happened upon a conduit between myself and God that has been lacking. I have discovered what an incredible experience it is to be fed with God’s wholeness of Spirit which has awakened my preexisting condition as a soul owner.
I am far from done. I am far from being an authority. I simply share as a way to communicate that my reception to spiritual food has given me a deeper strength and energy than I had previously. Quietness, stillness, listening for God’s voice, and meditation do not come easy or naturally for me but I am sure learning to love it.
A couple of months ago I was asked by a member of the church what I was reading. She had come to the conclusion that based on what she was seeing, hearing and experiencing from my leadership that I must have been resourced in some way. She was right. It was a great observation to discern that it is not my own brain power and skills that allow me to lead and preach and do what I do. I have read countless books on leadership and continue to read, attend seminars and dialogue with colleagues about leadership. But, I realized that I neglected to acknowledge that my greatest resource, which I have recently re-discovered, has come when I have connected with my soul, retreated with God, and taken time to be with God. I highly recommend it but more importantly, I am actively working on doing it myself.
I also read C.S. Lewis, H.G. Wells “War of the Worlds” (l love the classics too such as Charles Dickens, Homer, and Shakespeare) Shane Claiborne, Tony Campolo, and Martin Luther King Jr. At night I like to read less theological stuff and enjoy mythology and historical fiction. In addition to my recent completion of “The Short Stories of Jesus; the parables of an Enigmatic rabbi” by Dr. Levine for our Lenten study, I am finishing my first Stephen King book, “11/22/63″!
I would love to hear what you have been reading and what has been feeding your soul. We are on this journey together.