Strengthening the Soul (2)

I really needed to slow down. In fact, I needed to tendingthesoul.JPG stop.

Just two weeks ago, I was in Ruth Haley Barton’s class, “Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership” at Wheaton College. The class was not only lecture but included times for prayer, worship, and silence.

It was an opportunity to slow down. In fact, it was an opportunity to stop.

After all, it is very, very easy to stay really busy. Have you noticed this?

  • Phone calls, texting, e-mailing, tweeting, and updating the Facebook status
  • Meetings (even meetings to plan the next meeting)
  • Projects
  • Talk and more talk
  • Squeezing in several activities in one evening

Yes, most of us are very busy. I certainly am.

Yet, I have have found that constant activity day after day can leave me feeling empty, cold, energy-less, and even resentful. This busyness is all about doing and achieving instead of living, really living from the inside-out.

On Friday, I awoke early. I read the “practice” section of chapter 2 from Ruth Haley Barton’s book Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership .

Take at least ten minutes to sit quietly in God’s presence with your growing awareness of what is drawing you into solitude at this time. Allow yourself to experience the hope that comes with knowing that there is a safe place for you to acknowledge what is true about you and to wait for God’s action in your life. (p. 45)

I went upstairs to our den and then outside to the little balcony overlooking our backyard. I sat still in the darkness, staring at a brightly lit moon. I sat in silence before God. After a few minutes, it became very clear what was weighing on my heart/mind. I brought this before God.

The point?

There is no substitute for tending to my soul.


Consider your own life. Now think about others who are around you. What is the constant (and even frantic) busyness doing to us?

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12 thoughts on “Strengthening the Soul (2)

  1. Thanks Jim for the sobering reminder. Can’t wait to hear about your journey with Ruth Haley Barton’s material and life.

  2. JIm,
    I have been forced to lay low, move slow and take it easy for the past few days in recuperation of a recent surgery and some complications. What I found in this time of forced reflection, is that activity….even holy causes….can distract attention from the need for nurturing the innermost places. I resolve myself, once again, to hasten glad and free back to the refreshment found only in the water drawn from the deepest part of the well. Thanks again for offering refreshment for parched souls….mine in particular.

    • Hi Gary,
      You express this so well. “Activity…even holy causes…can distract attention from the need for nurturing the innermost places.” How true! Sometimes, (at least this has been my experience) we don’t realize just how much activity has dominated our lives until we are forced, in some way, to slow down or stop. (I recall similar experiences after a couple of surgeries).

      Hope you are recovering well.

  3. Jim,
    I really appreciated the time I had with Ruth Haley Barton at a pastor’s conference she hosted in March in Chicago. It was very beneficial. Glad you got to go.
    Ironically I blogged about solitude as well today!

    • John,
      I look forward to reading your post! The time in Ruth Haley Barton’s class was a great experience for me in a number of ways.

      Hope you are doing well.

  4. So true. It is beneficial to make a habit of checking in with a person, a blog, whatever causes us to think and slow down. I am convinced that busyness is one of Satan sharpest and most deadly weapons. I look forward to more thoughts on this study that you are taking. Thanks!

    • Hi Deana,
      Yes, you are so right about busyness. I have asked myself on occasions, “What am I getting out of this?” What is being neglected or put off while I am so busy? What does this say about what is going on (or not going on) within me?

      Anyway, I have wrestled with this one.

    • L.L., you are right. Stillness, silence, and solitude before the Lord is a place where our hearts/minds find rest. I suspect that most of underestimate the toll that constant activity, noise, and mindlessness take on ourselves–body and soul.

  5. I am sitting on my porch as I write this, enjoying the breeze and the quiet. Love the image of “tending my soul.” The contemplative life has lost favor with the people,

  6. Karen,
    There is something about that image of sitting on the porch that feels calm and quiet. I too like the image of “tending my soul.” Not sure where that image came from. I just know that it communicates with me.

    And yes– unfortunately, the contemplative life has apparently lost favor with the people.

    Thanks Karen. (I read your blog regularly and love the way you write.)