Why Soul Care is Essential
How can I care for the souls of others when I am not caring for my own soul?
In my many years of ministry, I’ve learned that I cannot thrive or last in ministry if I’m neglecting the care of my own soul.
So what exactly does “soul care” mean?
Soul Care is the daily process of nurturing and renewing our souls under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The soul involves our thoughts, emotions, and how we interact with God on a spiritual level. As Larry Crabb defines it, "Soul Care focuses on the inner life, who we were intended to be."
Soul Care is NOT:
- Making life work through discipline and following rules
- Making life work on the surface
- Shallow relationships
- A formula
Soul care is about deep personal renewal so that we treasure God as the ultimate satisfaction for our souls and become who we were truly created to be in Christ.
Many of us find soul care challenging because it requires depth. We cannot skim through soul care on the surface. There is no formula for it-there is no rule in soul care that says, "If you do this, this will be the result." Soul care also requires community-not just community with the Triune God, but with other believers who are also concerned with their inner life and knowing and exploring the souls of others.
Sometimes caring for our own souls becomes challenging in ministry. It is easy to do ministry in the urgent and put others before our own care. It is important to remember why we need to care for our souls.
Soul care is essential for life and ministry for many reasons. Here are Five:
1. Jesus modeled soul care.
Luke tells us that before Jesus began his ministry, he grew in wisdom (Luke 2:40, 52). He spent 40 days in the wilderness praying to his Father, resisting temptation, and caring for his soul (Luke 5:17). Jesus often withdrew to a quiet place to commune with his Father and ask for direction (Luke 5:42-22).
Because Jesus cared for his own soul, he knew his purpose (Luke 4:17-21). He didn’t let others dictate his ministry and he had the wisdom to pour out love, patience, and truth where necessary.
2. We cannot help others if we are drowning.
Neglecting the soul is like slowly drowning. We don’t realize we are drowning until we’re gasping for air. We can offer little help to others in this state-we might drag them down with us.
When you fly in an airplane, they always instruct you that, in case of emergency, you must secure your own oxygen mask first before you help others. We cannot help others breathe deeply in the Spirit if we ourselves are not breathing deeply in the Spirit.
We may be able to make ministry work for a while (by the grace of God and work of the Spirit), but eventually our ministry will become shallow and hollow. It might become a mere movement through the motions. God can still use us because he is gracious and sovereign, but we lose out on the blessing of serving him in abundance.
3. The soul is one of the few things that are eternal.
Almost everything in this world will pass away, but three things are eternal: God, His Word, and the souls of people.
In ministry, we are often concerned with the souls of others, but our soul is also eternal and needs nurturing. It is never a waste of time to care for your soul. It is the one thing you will carry with you into eternity.
4. It grows our intimacy with God.
Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that he could produce a bunch of drones. He died for us because he loves us and he wants us with him. He wants us to know him deeply and let our worship be an overflow of that intimacy.
Our ultimate satisfaction must be found in the Lord. Nothing else can truly deeply satisfy us. We fail to cultivate that satisfaction when we fail to care for our souls.
5. It reminds us that our worth is not in ministry.
The Lord is more concerned with our hearts and souls than with all the things we are doing for him. The Christian life is essentially about knowing God deeply and worshipping him out of an overflow of this intimacy. Ministry and serving others is a part of that overflow, but we easily forget that. We are guilty of elevating ministry to our ultimate goal, of finding our worth and definition in the work we do for God.
Ministry will ebb and flow. Sometimes it will appear fruitful and satisfying. Other times it will be hard, fruitless, and painful. If we put our worth in ministry, our feelings of worthiness will also ebb and flow. Our so
uls will shrivel when ministry is hard. However, if we are consistently caring for our souls, we are reminded that our worth is in Christ. Our souls will thrive no matter the state of our ministry.
One way you can care for your soul is by knowing the state your soul is in. I am offering a resource for determining the state of your soul. It is filled with questions you can reflect on and pray through to help guide you through the process of evaluating your soul. You can receive this resource for free when you sign up for my monthly newsletter. My prayer is that my newsletter will be a resource and companion as you care for your soul.
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