“The reason I share my junk with you,” a pastor disclosed. “Is because you’re not a monkish spiritual formation guy. I can’t relate to the contemplative spiritual direction types.”
We hear this a lot from pastors. This is one reason why in last week’s Soul Shepherding blog/email I blurted out, “Spiritual Disciplines are Dung!”
I get Type A leaders.
I understand being intense and driven to reach the goal. That’s putting it mildly — I’m a workaholic. I’ve been in recovery for many years, but I’m still Type A and my wife and a close friend tell me I can do the work of three people.
For people like me, ministry projects and spiritual disciplines are drugs that get us high but leave us disconnected from relationships — including the Christ we’re intending to serve. We can take pride in what we’re doing “for God”, not realizing that if we’re not appreciating being “with God” in the moment then we’re probably serving our own ego more than we realize.
As a young and rising leader I was short-changing two small children the time and emotional presence they needed from their Daddy. My wife was frazzled and drained to the breaking point.
Thankfully the word of the Lord pierced my heart. I’d like to say it came through Bible-reading or prayer in solitude, but it mostly came through my wife’s emotional meltdowns over my addiction to ministry success.
She was watching me give my best to counseling too many people, working too many hours at the church, and writing books in my “free time”. All the while she was pregnant and holding a little boy in her right hand and a littler girl in her left! (In those years my inner sense of inadequacy and shame drove me into selfish ambition, which is what underlies workaholism.)
I sobered up fast the day she asked, “Will you co-author the lives of our three children with me?” That’s how I learned we were having another baby!
God arrested my heart. I stopped writing books. I stopped doing media appearances. I stopped speaking in public outside of my local church — for fourteen years!
Obeying God, against the ambitions of my flesh, caused me to “hit bottom” — the bottom of a dark abyss of depression. No success and no attention for all the great things I could make with my words left me empty.
I felt like a zero.
Looking back I see this was just the medicine my soul needed. The pain of withdrawal from the highs of ministry success pushed into therapy. It was depressing to feel like writing books and having a public ministry was over.
But once I learned to rest — really rest my body and soul in Christ and find my joy and my identity in loving God and the people around me — that’s when God birthed a new ministry to pastors and leaders and Soul Shepherding, Inc. was born.
On our weekly podcast, “Soul Talks With Bill and Kristi Gaultiere”, we’re in the middle of a series on “Rest”. To learn to rest means:
- Stopping our work.
- Ceasing achievement-oriented spiritual disciplines.
- Stepping out of the swirl of stuff that keeps suffocating our souls by sucking us out of being relational with God and others.
We’re talking about weekly Sabbath rest for all of us and Sabbaticals of 30-days or more for pastors and other men and women in ministry.
A new offering from Bill & Kristi
Our first “Selah” podcast! 5-minute meditations to shepherd your soul and the people you minister to. Check out “Breathing Selah.”
We love to hear from you!
“You have taught me how to be still in Gods presence that was so hard for me!”