“How are you doing?” is a very common greeting, but when was the last time someone asked, “How is your soul doing?” Would you have even known how to answer or would you have wondered what exactly was meant by that?
Knowing God and knowing yourself are intricately intertwined in determining how your soul is doing, and there are definitely ways of determining if your soul is healthy or unhealthy.
Giant Leadership materials says it well: “Know yourself to lead yourself to be a leader worth following.” The number one priority of any leader is to determine reality, and that begins in the leader’s own life and soul.
The soul of man is the spiritual element that binds together all aspects of who you are as a human being into one person. In Genesis 2:7, the Creator of all life formed man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into him, making him a living soul.
John Ortberg captures this well in Soul Keeping: “The soul is the capacity to integrate all parts into a single, whole life. It is something like a program that runs a computer; you don’t usually notice it unless it messes up.” How do you know if your soul is unhealthy?
Psalm 63:1 declares, “My soul thirsts for thee (God) and my flesh longs for you.” Your soul longs for satisfaction that can only be found in your Creator. You may look for contentment and fulfillment elsewhere, but it will be short-lived and temporary.
There are five dimensions to your soul and who you are. Remember, these “selfs” are very intricately interwoven:
If any one of these five it is out of alignment it can impact the others as well. The scriptures speak very clearly to all five of these as they make up who you are.
Do you have a clear sense of where you are the most vulnerable? Do you have a good understanding of where you are struggling the most right now? Everyone has challenges in their lives and ministries, and it is wise to normalize that reality. Many were raised in a theology of I Chronicles 4:10, that if you pray the prayer of Jabez, God will bless your life, grow your church (enlarge your borders) and keep you free from pain and suffering. To persevere as a believer and as a leader in the church you must have a biblical theology and foundation that there will be pain, hurts, scars, and difficulties. You can not just bulldoze through the despair and betrayal.
In today’s culture, you may have heard people say they are “deconstructing” their beliefs, going back to scratch, and starting all over again. Usually when you hear this statement, it is because they have been hurt by someone in church. Their disappointment, and even mistreatment, has caused them to say they do not believe the truth anymore. Love them instead of scoffing then remind them they must first heal the hurt before properly evaluating their values and belief systems. Hurting people hurt people and that is true of you as a leader as well. Have you honestly slowed down to allow the Lord to heal your hurts?
You cannot just press forward through the battles without processing the hurt and the need for forgiveness. When you ignore soul care in the area of emotional baggage you will begin reacting to situations instead of being proactive. One leadership axiom says to expect the best and plan for the worst. But with ministry wounds it is very easy to dwell on the “worst,” and if you are not careful you will play a big part in making the “worst” case scenario become the reality. You need seasons to refresh and recharge. Do you practice a regular day off and routinely disengage from the ministry grind?
What boundaries have you built around your life to protect your soul, health, and well-being? Do you set your phone aside during meals and in the evenings? What part of the five areas are you neglecting the most (physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, relational)? Ken Nabi’s leadership axiom is this: “I must do what only I can do, that if I don’t do it, it won’t get done.”
Only you can take care of your walk with God.
Only you can be the husband to your wife that she needs you to be.
Only you can be the father to your children as their spiritual guardian.
Only you can take the needed steps in each one of these five areas to ensure your soul is healthy.
Here are some self-assessment evaluation questions from Ken Nabi. Grade yourself on a scale of 1 – 5.
- Without feeling guilty, I freely take time to care for my whole being.
- My pace of life is manageable and sustainable with margin to reflect and be quiet while rarely feeling overwhelmed.
- My physical health is good, and I routinely exercise to stimulate my heart and lungs to build endurance and strength.
- I live a reflective life where I am able to know what is going on inside my heart and mind at the end of every day.
- I have life-giving friendships that go beyond surface level conversation.
- I routinely take time to read Scripture, reflect, and apply its truths to myself, not as part of a sermon prep or board meeting agenda.
- I have a routine scheduled weekly day off and I know when my next vacation is planned.
What one thing could you begin doing today to significantly contribute to the overall health of your soul? Be sure to check out Psalm 103 . . .