Stewarding our Souls
In 1994, my world was rocked when I was in my fifth month of pregnancy and the doctor sent me to a genetic counselor. In 2006, our oldest son joined the Marines and was soon deployed to Iraq. In 2017, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
In each of these incidents God was present, and his grace was more than sufficient.
Now in 2020 a pandemic has hit our world and brought changes none of us could have imagined a month prior. I have the same confidence in the Lord as I have throughout my adult life. The world changes, but he does not.
Turbulent times are to be expected in our lives.
Turbulent times are to be expected in our lives. How do we stand and even move forward when the ground beneath us rumbles and we cannot see when it will end or how bad it will get before it ends?
The habits or disciplines we develop now will ground us when life throws us a curve ball. The beauty of establishing disciplines or routines is that they become a part of who we are. Disciplines may be difficult to establish in the beginning but as time moves on, they become life giving.
As Senior Vice President of Team Care and Culture at World Impact, what I do personally, directly correlates to how I lead, and the standard I want to see within our organization. If we are not healthy individually and as an organization, how can we be effective partners to those we serve?
Stewarding our souls can be compared to laying a foundation that will not only withstand the storm but will also help us live our lives with intentionality and purpose. Often, we are on autopilot, doing the next thing that needs to be done; meeting with that next person; writing that blog; leading that training; preaching that sermon, etc. without ever taking the time to evaluate whose yoke we are bearing. Is it truly from the Lord or self-imposed, laborious and draining?
This pandemic interrupted our lives, our work, and our ministry. We were not given time to prepare for the abrupt lifestyle change that was thrust upon us.
I propose that we establish routines providing a foundation that will support us whatever comes our way.
I propose that we establish routines providing a foundation that will support us whatever comes our way. These routines will ground us and strengthen us. We steward our souls so we can be healthy, and so we can be truly useful for building up others. It is not a selfish or a self-centered endeavor.
Routines that steward our own souls will also help us steward those whom we lead.
During times of chaos we, as leaders, need to stop and be intentional as to how we are leading others and how we are taking care of our own souls. Following are a few disciplines that are simple yet often difficult to live out consistently.
- Physical Health
- Go on walks, slow walks, and avoid ear buds. Listen to your thoughts, words from the Lord and sounds of traffic or nature – be present.
- Get seven to eight hours of sleep each day.
- Find a way to really sweat, get that heart pumping! Do that with all the gusto you have at least three times a week.
- Emotional/Spiritual Health
- Take time each day to be quiet with the Lord.
- Give yourself permission to spend extra time in studying God’s Word.
- Guard your Sabbath day.
- Leadership Health
- Listen to those around you. If you let them, they will be a mirror to you, showing you things about yourself that may remain out of your view.
- Remind yourself that it is not up to you to save the world, but to be found faithful.
- Trust those you lead, build your relationship with them – especially now when meeting in person is not always possible or prudent. Do not merely look at their output, go deeper. They need your encouragement and grace.
- Find one or two others that you can share deeply with from your heart – people you feel safe with.
- There is no simple plan that will help us weather the challenges of unexpected events or circumstances, but we can become resilient as we steward our souls through the consistent practice of disciplines. Remembering God’s faithfulness from the past will help reassure us as we look forward.
Lisa Entz, CCNL, is the Senior Vice President of Team Care and Culture at World Impact (www.worldimpact.org). She is responsible for fostering a healthy culture within World Impact as well as promoting staff health and wellness. She has been with World Impact since 1986. Lisa is a Credentialed Christian Nonprofit Leader through Christian Leadership Alliance, and a certified trainer in trauma healing.