I knew how to fill my tired physical body but did not know how to replenish my soul.
For me there were three principles in the process of renewal—it was personal, it was daily and it was relational. Renewal is a very personal process. For example, what replenished my wife’s soul was the very thing that drained me. She is an extrovert and I am an introvert. She is energized by people. She has to be out the door each morning and greet the world of people. Even though I love people and enjoy the interaction with them, I found it drains me. Time alone in my study each morning filled my tank. As for recreation, I had friends suggest I play golf but that was a disaster. It did nothing for my soul. It caused me to cheat, steal, and lie and that is not good for the soul. Through trial and error I gradually learn what worked to replenish my life.
I often wish I had a gauge on my soul like my truck has on the gas tank. It has a warning light and even talks to me when I get close to empty. That would have protected me from a lot of pain. However, I began monitoring my “inner man” to detect when my soul was beginning to run on empty. Rather than just kick in the adrenalin for energy, I made sure I allowed time to authentically replenish my soul. The Apostle is a great model for renewing the soul. He speaks to the second principle I found for renewal, “ …we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)
Renewal is a day by day process. Just as we cannot eat enough food at Sunday lunch to last all week (even though some of us try) we cannot fill our soul once a week and be adequately renewed. The daily grind on your soul is the reality of life- but the daily renewal can be just as real. A part of that daily process for me is to have a consistent time with God that is life-giving and not just routine. Yes, I know you already believe this and even teach it to each other. But this is one of my greatest challenges in life. It is not just the discipline of setting aside the time, but to keep it fresh and alive so it feeds my soul. When my dad sharpened his knife, he knew just the angle to hold the blade to put the razor’s edge on it.
For me the time alone with God each day is necessary to get my life at just the right angle (or we might say attitude) for the day. As basic as this is, it is vital to our life being sharpened by the grind rather than dulled. Allowing God to speak to me through the reading of his word and then reflecting and responding to what I have heard from God, sharpens my life. This time with God must focus on listening to him and not just talking to him.
The process of renewal is also relational. For David, Jonathan was a source of energy. There was an immediate bond of love between them, and they became the best of friends (1 Samuel 18:1). Have you noticed how some people drain your energy? You can feel the energy being sucked out of your system when you see them coming. On the other hand there are some individuals who give you energy. It is a delight to see them coming. Even an introvert like me finds close friends a source of great energy. At first I felt guilty about being selective on who I allowed to be close in my life. But then I remembered that Jesus had three of the twelve in his inner circle. I like the way Dan Reiland, executive of 12 Stone Church in Atlanta says it. “We should be close with a few, friendly with everyone, and conflict with none.”
Leading a church can be very lonely but it doesn’t have to be. First, make sure your spouse is your best friend. Then seek out one or two others that can be close enough to sharpen your life. “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (Proverbs 27:17). It might be two other pastors or friends outside the church or even someone in your church. Wherever it is, find a Jonathan for your life.
The grind is real! It is a part of life. It can and must become your friend rather than your enemy. It is the very tool that God uses to sharpen your life. Work diligently each day with the wisdom of God to detect what drains and what fills you up. The grind will provide you with the nourishment and exercise for being made whole.
What are things that you do to fill you spiritual and emotional bucket?
By: Vernon Armitage