323 – The Blessing of Spirit-Led Ministry

This Week on Soul Talks

When we’re serving God with our gifts, it can be easier than we think to become overly dependent on our own abilities and energy without realizing it. 

In his graciousness, the Lord then often uses periods of trials or waiting to draw us into deeper intimacy with him and to cultivate a longing for his Spirit. And when we allow our work to be Spirit-led, we can be refreshed in Christ — relying on the presence and power of Jesus, and not on our own!

Tune into this episode of Soul Talks where Bill and Kristi unpack how you can lean into Spirit-led ministry. You’ll be encouraged and inspired to learn how you can experience a fresh awakening to God’s goodness and grace, leading you not only to doing your work for God, but with God.

Resources for this episode: 

The Blessing of Spirit-Led Ministry Transcript

Bill & Kristi Gaultiere

Kristi 

Hello friends. We especially wanna give a call out to some of our friends in St. Louis, MO at Harvester church. 

Bill and I so enjoyed our time with you at the Journey of the Soul Conference on Friday and Saturday, all day. 

It was a joy to meet many of you and talk with you. 

We love Terry Norris, and the ministry that you’re doing at Harvester.

It was such a joy to get to come alongside and be a part of that.

Bill

We got to train the leaders in Journey of the Soul and how to bring it into other groups and their discipleship ministries.

And, gosh, so many great people serving the Lord in community together, reaching out to their neighbors and beyond. 

So many good questions about how to really do this life with Jesus.

To be a more loving person and how to actually grow through these stages of faith, and growing emotionally and spiritually in the Journey of the Soul.

The Resurrection Gives Us the Spirit-Led Ministry

Kristi 

Well, it’s so fun to see the way that God is using Terry and the others there providing spiritual direction for people. 

Helping people on every stage of their journey, connecting with Jesus, being strengthened in him. 

And that’s so important. 

Especially in this season and time of our world, where there’s just so much temptation, so much going on in the world that is tempting people to stress, doubt, fear. 

To be able to have a safe place where you can come together and be strengthened in fellowship   and union with Christ is so important.

Bill 

We all need a spiritual director, a coach, a soul friend — someone that we can talk to about our own journey of the soul.

About where we are at with our stages of growing in the likeness of Jesus and in our discipleship. 

To have someone who understands the language of these stages of faith and understands the motions of the soul — the feelings, stress points, opportunities…

 And the different spiritual disciplines and soul care practices that can be helpful at different stages. 

So, yeah, Terry’s one of those people that is raising up leaders to give them this language. 

To give them this tool, to teach them about these stages of faith that we call the C.H.R.I.S.T. stages, with C.H.R.I.S.T. as an acronym for: 

  • Confidence in Christ (the C Stage) 
  • Help in Discipleship (the H Stage)
  • Responsibilities in Ministry (the R Stage) 

Then probably encountering 

  • The Wall (Transition) 

And that being the “soul pivot” into the second half with 

  • Inner Journey (the I Stage)
  • Spirit-Led Ministry (the S Stage)
  • Transforming Union (the T Stage)

Kristi 

This is all a part of our life with Jesus and all that he has for us and at each stage.

He is at work with us. 

At each stage we have special invitations and opportunities to respond and to cooperate with what God’s doing in our life.

Bill 

So if you are listening, you need someone to talk to. 

We have a staff of spiritual directors and coaches who are available to listen to you, to guide you, to pray with you in your life, in your ministry and your relationships and your leadership. 

And that’s a really important part of Soul Shepherding. 

And we also are training up and certifying spiritual directors and coaches for ministry to others. 

That’s part of the Soul Shepherding Institute, where you can earn a certificate in the ministry of spiritual direction or Christian coaching. 

And so it’s really fun to partner with people who are coming to us, Kristi, and our Institute retreats. 

And we just started a class.

It’s not too late if you want to jump into our latest class — the class of 2024, by getting a certificate in spiritual direction ministry.

Kristi 

It’s exciting to see more people who are really leaning in to growing in Christ and to be strengthened.

People who are being equipped to be Spirit-led ministers, who are really helping others along the journey. 

People that are at “The Wall” or in “Responsibilities in Ministry.” 

Helping them to be able to recognize that they don’t have to hit a burnout or a blowout.

And recognize that they also don’t need to be afraid of “The Wall.” 

That when they hit “The Wall,” to trust that the Spirit is their spiritual director. 

The Holy Spirit is leading and guiding and that Wall is actually a gateway, a grace, an invitation to the “Soul Pivot” into the second half of the journey.

Bill 

As he brings us through the inner journey of a deepening self-awareness, a deepening emotional honesty, a deepening working through of conflicts and questions, we can come into a deepening intimacy with God in a renewal. 

A renewal which then can lead into “the S stage” of “Spirit-Led Ministry”, which really fits in with this season, the Easter season.

Easter is not only a day, it’s actually a season on the church calendar, leading up to the next season of Pentecost. 

We have 50 days of Easter, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, which is the high point and theme of the Bible and of our lives. 

What we are learning to do in “the S stage” of “Spirit-Led Ministry” is to not only believe in the resurrection, but actually live in the context of the resurrection.

By seeking to stay attuned with the presence of the Risen Jesus in all that we do.

Including in our work and in our service.

The Disciples Learned to Be Spirit-Led

Kristi 

And the disciples had to learn this too. 

They didn’t just instantly live all of their life and ministry in “Spirit-Led Ministry.”

Bill 

When Jesus died, the disciples had a big problem because they were all about bringing people to Jesus for healing, for teaching and in their ministry. 

During the Gospels, we see Jesus send them out on mission.

But then they come back to Jesus, and they report back to him.

And they get encouragement and guidance. 

So they liked having Jesus with them, in the flesh, and they were pretty dependent on that. 

So the idea of Jesus leaving the earth without them was not something they imagined was part of the program for the Messiah. 

They didn’t understand this idea of the Holy Spirit and the resurrection from the dead and all this. 

So when Jesus died they were depressed. 

They were despairing and they thought it was all over. 

Even though he had told them he was gonna die then raise from the dead.

It was so far from what they imagined to be possible in what they believed the Messiah to be.

But then when Jesus rose from the dead and it all came back to them, it was amazing. 

But then the disciples wanted to hold on to Jesus and keep him there because they had this thing around Jesus’ body. 

“We need you here, Jesus. We need you to lead us and we need you to do the healing and do the saving.”

And Jesus said “No, it’s better for you that I go away and I’m gonna send you another friend, another advocate, another teacher, another comforter, the Holy Spirit.” 

God is a Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. 

And so in Acts, we see the disciples figuring this out, not only conceptually, but pragmatically in terms of how they’re living.

At the very beginning of Acts, Luke tells us that Jesus spoke to the disciples in the flesh, but then also through the Holy Spirit. 

During this time after the resurrection — which is where we are on the church calendar now before Pentecost — Jesus alternates between being physically with them and being with them only spiritually.

Which is what it’s like for us! 

It’s a reminder of something that we teach in our Institute — that we are bi-habitable creatures. 

God has actually created and designed us to live in two habitats: the physical and the spiritual.

The seen — what’s visible, and what’s unseen — what’s not visible. 

We’re actually designed for both of these worlds and the unseen world is just as real as the physical.

And in one sense even more real and lasting. 

So the disciples were learning how to hear Jesus talk to them when he wasn’t physically with them.

And how to be led and empowered by his Spirit, the Holy Spirit.

Getting Stuck Leads to a Deeper Relationship With God

Kristi 

The disciples learned how to be expectant too. 

I was thinking, in reading Matthew recently, I noticed that there were three times that Jesus told the disciples that he would see them again in Galilee. 

He told them to “Go to Galilee and there, they would see” him three times. He told them!

Bill 

He wanted them to know “After I die, I’m not gone. I’m coming back.”

Kristi 

Yes. And I think we need that constant reminder and repetition that Jesus goes before us and that we will see him. 

We will see and encounter his Spirit with us as we go. 

But it is a learning experience for us. 

I think I relate to the disciples. 

Sometimes I can tend to think, 

“Oh man, if I had been alive when Jesus was, and I’d been with him in body, you know, it would’ve made my discipleship so much easier!

I would’ve been just so much better equipped for life!

And my faith would be so much stronger!”

Now, I don’t think so. [Laughter]

I think even now there’s times when I have the opportunity to wake up to the realization, “Well, wait a second. I am in the presence of Jesus and I’m taking him for granted right now.”

Bill 

I’m sure that’s one of the main reasons why God gave us the apostle Paul in the scriptures. 

Paul did not have a life with Jesus, like Peter, James, John, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Martha, and all the others. 

He wasn’t with Jesus in the flesh. 

He came as a follower and disciple of Jesus after Jesus’ death and resurrection, some years after. 

So he learned to relate with Jesus the same way that we do, through the Scriptures, through the Holy Spirit, and through the community of other disciples. 

So as we’re celebrating this season of Easter and the ministry of the Risen Spirit of Jesus that’s all around us all the time, this really ties into what we’ve been teaching at churches.

Like Harvester and all over the place where we get to do training and speak to people. 

The stage of Spirit-Led Ministry, “the S stage” in the C.H.R.I.S.T. stages. 

It’s just really powerful for people as we talk to people.

When they get the language of these stages and the map, and they learn to differentiate between “the R stage of responsibilities in ministry.”

Pretty much everybody we talk to, certainly pastors, missionaries, leaders, ministry spouses, they know about “the R stage” because they’re living in that and it’s a good stage. 

We’re serving God with our gifts and we’re on team Jesus to move the ball forward.

Kristi 

Getting a lot done.

Bill 

And what we’re getting done is works of love. 

It’s sharing the Gospel. 

It’s caring for people in need.

It’s teaching and training. 

But along the way, we can get overly dependent on our own abilities and energy, our own ideas about even realizing it. 

And even though we teach about God’s grace, God’s unconditional love, and the power of the Holy Spirit, we don’t realize how slippery it is that we can find ourselves relying on our own selves — even our own ego and ambition — not on the presence of the Holy Spirit with us. 

What we learned through the challenges, the questions, the pain at “the wall,” …

The tiredness, the wrestling through spiritual dryness —  these different expressions of “the Wall” experiences where we feel stuck is then we come into a new deepening in our relationship with God.

Cultivate a Longing for the Spirit

Bill 

And this happens in cycles. 

So we might experience “the Pivot” from “the R stage,” hitting “the Wall,” then into “the Inner Journey.” 

We might have that sequence happen a few times in our life. 

Then the opportunity there from “the I stage,” as we work through the wrestlings and we come into this deeper experience of God’s love and grace. 

Because we’re letting God’s truth get deeper into some places where we’ve been stuck or broken, or had these unanswered questions. 

We’re peeling back the layers of the onion in our soul. 

That’s what God is doing with trials in our life, especially when there’s a season of big trials that becomes a “Wall” experience where we feel stuck.

God is deepening us so that God’s grace and God’s truth can get deeper into the nooks and crannies of our personality. 

Through that process, we can experience a spiritual renewal and increased intimacy with God.

That God then can use, in God’s time and God’s wisdom, to lead us into a season of “Spirit-Led Ministry.” 

Maybe for the first time, or maybe returning again. 

And there’s a fresh anointing that comes on us.

Kristi 

As we’re talking about being in this Easter time and season, I think about after Christ’s resurrection when he tells the disciples to go and to wait for the Holy Spirit, there in the upper room.

That is something that is important too.

During that “Inner Journey” season, there is that season of waiting, being still, and knocking off all of the dependency on our own efforts and activities. 

Really living expectedly while cultivating this longing for more of God.

And doing the grief work too, as well as the work of hope of this longing for God. 

And I think that the timing of the Holy Spirit’s coming at Pentecost, I think that was God-designed. 

I think the disciples needed that time of waiting and cultivating that longing to be ready. 

And we do too.

Bill 

They needed the stillness. 

They needed a season of less activity, of rest, of praying through some issues, of talking through things together in community. 

They needed a season of waiting to see what God was going to do.

And waiting is not easy. 

So when we’re quiet, when we’re having time alone, when we’re in a room with other people for a long time in prayer, worship, and periods of quiet, we have some stress in that. 

We have some emotions that come up like boredom, impatience, frustration, conflict or anxiety. 

We have memories that come to us because we’ve got all this space and some of the memories are sad and we’re grieving. 

So these negative emotions are being wrestled through by the disciples early on, after the resurrection of Jesus as they’re waiting for Pentecost to come.

That’s an important point that the Easter season, in many ways, is consistent with this “Inner-Journey-spirituality.” 

This season of waiting.

And the season of renewal that then can fuel a new expression of “Spirit-Led Ministry,” where we learn how to minister in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. 

Which on the church calendars may be best expressed by the Pentecost season as the coming of the Holy Spirit after 50 days of Easter. 

And the disciples are preaching sermons, healing people, and discipling people. 

And the Church is growing by dozens, hundreds, thousands of people to become the mightiest force on earth, the Church of Jesus Christ.

When Our Habitual Orientation Is Toward God We Enter Spirit-Led Ministry

Kristi 

Now, sometimes people get confused and they think that when we’re talking about “Spirit-Led Ministry,” that we’re talking about gifts of the Holy Spirit in our ministry. 

Or we’re talking about manifestations of the Holy Spirit in our ministry. 

And they’re thinking, “I think I had those when my home stage was an earlier stage.” 

So they get a little bit confused there, but that’s not what we mean when we’re talking about the C.H.R.I.S.T. stage of “Spirit-Led Ministry.”

Bill 

Yeah, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we actually talk about this, are related to “the R stage” and spiritual gifts that we call “joy gifts.” 

But from an earlier stage, we do get touches into Spirit-led, Spirit-empowered ministry. 

Where we have these learnings and these experiences of seeing what we’re doing, in our church work or in a small group that we’re leading.

Or in a relationship with somebody that we’re caring for and praying for, we see that there’s more here than my abilities. 

It’s more than me plus this other person or me plus these other people that I’m serving. 

God is at work. 

God is doing something. 

God is speaking. 

God is moving. 

At the heart of it, that is “Spirit-Led Ministry.” 

We definitely get experiences and touches in that before it’s really our home stage.

It becomes our home stage when it’s our habitual orientation. 

When the normal way that we’re operating is in the presence and joy of the Lord. 

It’s not a strain and it’s not just me setting my goals and making something happen. 

It’s me following the leadership of the Spirit of Jesus. 

And there’s probably some spontaneity in there. 

There’s probably some course correction. 

We’re learning better to practice God’s presence and to pray while we work.

And to sing praise songs during our day. 

We’re integrating our life now.

Being Spirit-Led Is Like Falling in Love With Jesus All Over Again

Kristi 

And our will, our spirit, is so much more surrendered to the Holy Spirit. 

To where we’ve really learned that is the best life. 

That is our greatest joy. 

In the earlier stages, we’re not as quick to yield or as able to yield.

Or be expected or able to move with the Spirit as quickly, as easily. 

We’re more resistant. 

We have our own resistances and defenses more in place in some of those earlier stages.

Bill 

Because of “the Wall.” 

What’s happening is our ego and our self-will is being deconstructed. 

It’s being torn apart and we’re dying to that. 

We’re coming to the end of that. 

We’re discovering a deeper Holy-will. 

The Holy Spirit’s will, God’s will, and we’re learning to live into that. 

When we become a Christian we’re surrendering to the Lord, but there is an upping of the surrender, a deepening of it that happens at “the Wall” as “the Wall” merges into the stage of “the Inner Journey.” 

It’s because of that deeper self-denial, that deeper offering of ourselves to God, that God’s grace comes in a deepening way. 

So the inner journey season can also be a renewal time that’s like falling in love with Jesus all over again.

Because sometimes, as the church in Revelations, we can lose our first love that we had in “the C stage” when we first came to Christ, in those early years of loving and serving Jesus. 

This is like coming back again, all over. 

Now we have this fresh awakening of God’s grace and goodness, and a deepening reliance upon the person of Jesus with us in the moment. 

So not only are we doing our work for God, like we characteristically do in “the R stage.” 

We’re doing our work with God. 

And that’s where the joy is. 

That’s where the peace is. 

That’s where the power is. 

When we’re able to do our service, our leadership, our preaching, our teaching, our listening, and caring for people, our parenting…

When we’re able to do these activities not just in our own strength, but appreciative that God is with us. 

Jesus is smiling over us and interspersing our work with little prayers, little praises that help us tap into the presence and power of the Spirit of Jesus.

Kristi 

Better able to listen, better able to hear, better able to rely on the presence of power of Jesus and less on our own.

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