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Soul Nourishing Soul Care

We plopped the blankets down in the semi-shade partially drenched by the sun and sat down by the lake. We had exactly 40 minutes in this team exercise to sit in silence with the Lord. Our assignment was to read an excerpted chapter from Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership and be attentive to what the Lord might want to say to each of us…an interesting exercise at the end of the academic semester when everyone is stretched so thin and could use this 40 minutes to finish the demands of their classes.


We plopped the blankets down in the semi-shade partially drenched by the sun and sat down by the lake. We had exactly 40 minutes in this team exercise to sit in silence with the Lord. Our assignment was to read an excerpted chapter from Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership and be attentive to what the Lord might want to say to each of us…an interesting exercise at the end of the academic semester when everyone is stretched so thin and could use this 40 minutes to finish the demands of their classes.

Inside of me, I wondered, can I really strengthen my soul in 40 minutes? Can my swirling thoughts settle down enough to even focus on and hear God’s voice? At least it would expose how thirsty my soul was and give me a taste of simply basking in His presence…40 minutes worth.

My eyes repeatedly fell on the author’s challenging comments –“…had been too busy and too out of touch with my own soul.”

“… if his soul was to be well, he could not afford to live his life driven blindly by unexamined inner dynamics.”

“…  how is one supposed to navigate the time commitment of ministry and one’s personal journey toward growth and wholeness. I find myself wondering if the two aren’t mutually exclusive?”

I’m thinking, no wonder Saint Benedict abandoned his culture to get away into the desert to nurture his spiritual life. And he didn’t even have the 21st century incessant pull of technology every nano second of his breathing.

Is the answer to pull away completely from life like the desert fathers and mothers? Jesus modeled pulling away for a time, a season, to be alone with the Father, to pray, to bask in His Presence, to strengthen His soul. Then, He returned to the pressures 24/7 of ministry fraught with all the people demands including preparing the disciples for the cross and His departure.

The author, Ruth Haley Barton, asks-  “How does spiritual leadership differ from other models of leadership? Spiritual leadership emerges from our willingness to stay involved with our own soul- that place where God’s Spirit is at work stirring up our deepest questions and longings to draw us deeper into relationship with Him. Living in the tension between being and doing; between the time it takes to love people and the need for expediency; the tension between the need for measurable goals and the difficulty of measuring that which is ultimately immeasurable by anyone but God Himself.”

Jesus modeled spiritual leadership- living in the tension of carrying for his own soul while nurturing the souls of others. And, He offers to us, in this century, knowing well what each of us is dealing with, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Come away with me
– even if it is just for 40 minutes.

Gail Seidel

Gail Seidel served as Mentor Advisor for Spiritual Formation in the Department of Spiritual Formation and Leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and as an Adjunct Professor in the D Min in Spiritual Formation in the D Min Department at Dallas Theological Seminary. She has a BA in English from the University of Texas, a Masters in Christian Education from Dallas Seminary and a D Min in Spiritual Formation from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is a contributor to the textbook, Foundations of Spiritual Formation, Kregel Academic. She served as co-director for Christian Women in Partnership Russia with Entrust, an international church leadership-training mission. She and her husband Andy live in Fredericksburg, Texas. They have 2 married children and 6 wonderful grandchildren--Kami, Kourtney, Katie, Mallory, Grayson, and Avery.

2 Comments

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    Doylene Brents

    Ruth Haley Barton

    I have noticed that you often quote people like Ruth Haley Barton from the Spiritual Formation Movement. Are you a part of this movement? Just thought I'd ask. Sometimes I find people quote these things and don't even know what the people who write them teaches. Doylene

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      Gail Seidel

      Actually, I have read her books.

      Thank you, Doylene, for your question. Ruth Haley Barton is a favorite author of mine. Her books are great for small group discussions, personal growth and have motivated me to look at my own life/soul while caring for the life/soul of others. Quotes are useful for emphasizing and validating a point, but are even better if you have had a chance to  read the orginal context.