By Doug Talley
We had excellent in-person attendance at our recent annual meeting and had several people who joined us online. I am so thankful to the Indiana Ministries staff for all their hard work on the ordination service and the annual meeting, as well as the Madison Park Church Staff for their assistance and for extending such a warm welcome to all who attended. Every year when I drive home from our annual meeting, I have a deep sense of gratitude that God allows me to serve such incredible churches, pastors, ministers, church staffs, and lay people.
Our speaker, Ruth Haley Barton, helped all of us slow down, look at the health of our souls, and seriously consider how to deepen our personal connection with God. The theme for the day was “Strengthening The Soul of Your Leadership,” and that is certainly what happened for me. I was fortunate to spend a second incredible day with Ruth and the pastors who are participating in Thrive. Allow me to share some of my take-aways from my time with Ruth. Why not take a break and reflect on them?
- The soul is the part of you that knows God. It transcends who you are. It is where God is present to you and in you. It longs for more of God. If our leadership is not from where God is present to us, it will not be transformational for us or anyone else.
- If a leader loses his or her soul (Jesus in Matthew 16:26), where does he or she lead from? There are far reaching consequences when we ignore our souls and what it longs for. If a leader loses his or her soul, so does the congregation he or she leads.
- Your soul has things it wants to say to you. Can you hear it speak? Are you aware of what it longs for? It is nigh impossible to hear your soul if your life is chaotic. Your soul needs quiet to speak and be heard.
- Prayer is not a time to be fixed – although God does a great work in us when we are with Him. It is time to just be with Him, much like we would be with someone who is a close and trusted friend.
- The pandemic is one of the hardest things we’ve gone through. It has left us all so tired that it is difficult for us to discern the times. Maybe even so tired we cannot discern the voice of our souls. We are at a different place now with the pandemic, but we are not through it yet. Take time to listen to God. What is God saying to you as you journey through this season?
- When is the last time you felt a heart longing for God and for His transformation? We need to get in touch with our longings because they are so central to who we are. Do you long for God to do something in you that you cannot do for yourself? What is that? How do you need to reorder your life so you can pursue what you say you really want?
- We tend to deny our longings – demonize them, downplay them, despiritualize them, ignore them, fear them. What desires are at the core of my longings? What is the real need they reflect? Do your longings cry out to God like Bartimaeus, or do you silence them?
- Are you in touch with yourself and your longings enough to know what you want Jesus to do for you? What do you want…what do you need in your deepest soul?
- Desires are like threads hanging from a piece of cloth. If you pull on the thread, it unravels the cloth and exposes its bare essence. As we pull on the threads of our desires, our deepest needs are exposed. Perhaps that is part of the reason why we hesitate or are fearful about pulling on that thread. We are afraid of what is underneath. God already knows and wants to help you face it so you can discover His help.
- The safest thing to do with desire is spend time with God and unravel it, rather than act out. So much damage is done to us and others when we act out. It is such an unhealthy and destructive way to release the power of our desires.
- There are desires within us that God has placed. He is present in those desires. He stirs them up. Will you get in touch with your true, real desires? Will you peel your soul down to its core need… its core longing? Will you surrender your desires to God? Surrender opens up so many options.
Following the annual meeting and the second day I got to spend with Ruth, Cindy and I got away for a few days. The time I made for God was so rich. It was like my soul was feasting on a banquet. I am so grateful to God for times like that.
When was the last time you got away, slowed down and listened to your soul? Another time like that won’t happen unless you intentionally plan and prepare for it.
Thank you for the privilege of serving God with you.