You would be hard-pressed to find any pastor, priest, or Christian leader who would suggest that spiritual care for our souls is not necessary. However:
Proclamation and practice are not synonymous!
In preparation for a 4-week class, I was teaching recently at a church; Jesus’ words recorded in John 15 caught my attention. He uses the image of a vine, allowing us to connect with an important message visually.
He makes clear that the source of life is in the vine, he is the vine, and that God the Father is the vine-grower. In the first five verses, the word “abide” is recorded five times (something most grammar instructors would frown on as being redundant). Apparently, Jesus sees it as necessary!
One of the outreaches of DISCOVER HOPE is to offer spiritual care to pastors and church leaders. The spiritual directors in our ministry often hear the heart-felt-longing of these men and women who express how they often feel as if they are dying on the vine!
The demands, expectations, and on-going emphasis to “do more,” compete with what’s most important: To abide in the vine. And, according to Jesus’ words, that is our primary task; to stay connected to him. Our task is to connect. God’s task is to produce.
We know this. We preach this. But proclamation and practice are not synonymous!
Jesus’ words seem nice – even inviting. However, they are counter-intuitive to a culture that views productivity as our responsibility. We have to do and create more. But according to Jesus’ image of the vine (and the message embedded in the picture), producing fruit is God’s work, not ours.
Make no mistake: apart from Jesus, you or I can do (produce) nothing!
We’ve all heard that actions speak louder than words. It’s not what we say that reveals who we are. When I strive to get things done, I’m prone to believe I’m the one responsible. Striving intensifies my stress and distracts me from what’s most important: abiding in Christ.
When I abide, I become surprised at how much we accomplish (Jesus and me). Our work is more productive and plentiful because life is discovered and produced in the vine.
I want to take time to re-evaluate my practice so that I can determine if my proclamation is what I “really” believe! How about you?
Here’s a free resource that will remind us of some spiritual practices to help us stay connected: CONNECTING WITH GOD