What do you hate the most about yourself? What is the thing about you that most frustrates and embarrasses you? The thing you wish you could change but can’t?

At Soul Shepherding we care for pastors and recently they’ve confessed:

  • “My ambition is causing me to neglect my wife.”
  • “We keep pumping up our successes because our church isn’t growing.”
  • “I’m overeating and drinking too much and I can’t remember the last time I exercised.”

As for me, I judge myself. 

Worse, sometimes I judge other people and then I judge myself for not being more loving! It’s a hall of mirrors: everywhere I look there I am and I’m pointing the finger at myself.

So mostly I judge myself so I don’t judge other people. I hate that judge, which is to say that I hate myself.

When I was a boy I saw criticism and anger hurt the people I loved and I vowed to never say or do anything that would hurt other people.

It’s how I avoid conflict. It’s how I avoid the hard work of facing my feelings of hurt and anger and speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

Of course, this strategy doesn’t work! It leads to fear, anxiety, leakages of anger, depression, and mostly shame. When you internalize anger you’re converting it into self-condemnation and self-hatred.

Here I stand, emotionally naked before God and you. “I do the bad I do not want to do. I do not do the good I want to do. Who will rescue me from this death?” (Romans 7:15, 24, paraphrased)

When I cry out in prayer with Paul then I hear the voice he heard, a voice that’s ancient and yet new, overpowering and yet gentle, from way up in heaven and yet somehow deep in my soul:

Come, my beloved,
My lovely one, come.

See, winter is past,
The rains are over and gone.
Flowers are appearing on the earth.
The season of glad songs has come.
The cooing of the turtledove is heard in our land.
The fig tree is forming it’s first figs
And the blossoming vines give out their fragrance.

Come, my beloved.
My lovely one, come.
(Song of Songs 2:10-13, NJB)

“Come, my beloved.”

Most of us don’t pray with fervor until we realize we’re desperate to know we’re loved, chosen, and delighted in — as we are, not as we should be. Like the prodigal son, the persistent widow, and the pearl merchant in Jesus’ famous parables it’s when we seek the Lord with all our heart that we’re best able to hear the Abba of Jesus call us his beloved.

“Come, my beloved.”

A lot of Christians think that reading their Bible is enough to hear the voice of Love. It’s not enough. God’s Word is essential, but we also need God’s Spirit and God’s people.

When was the last time you heard heaven’s sweet whisper through a brother or sister?

Today I heard that voice from a mentor and then in the Bible and it warmed my heart and moistened my eyes. I couldn’t help but share this with my wife and my daughter and then with you.

“Come, my beloved.”

When I was a college student the voice called me into meeting with a therapist to seek empathy and pray for my soul sickness. I never stopped going. 

Over the years I’ve met with different counselors, pastors, mentors, and soul friends to spill my guts, confess my sins, submit myself to another’s care and wisdom, cry out for my Abba’s love…

And listen for the voice of Love.

A pastor who has himself or herself for a pastor has a fool for a pastor. That’s why Kristi and I don’t just give Soul Shepherding care to others — we get it for ourselves.

“Come, my beloved.” That voice, that word, that grace has changed me. I’ve become less judgmental and more tender-hearted and compassionate with others and myself.

This is why I’ve devoted my life to shepherding the souls of pastors, leaders, servants, people like you. I want us all to hear and trust the voice of Love and share it with as many people as we can.

 

Feeling Inadequate at Prayer

Have you ever found yourself feeling that you are falling short in your prayer life? It’s so easy to end up in a place of self-condemnation and discouragement. Bill & Kristi lead us to discover the beauty of surrendering to the Lord in prayer, allowing him to be our shepherd, and leaning into our dependance on Him.
Listen to this week’s podcast here.

 

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