You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern. – 1 Peter 5:7 (J.B. Philips)
After reading this, would you be willing to share this and offer a comment below? I respond to each comment.
LET JESUS CARE FOR YOUR SOUL
This morning I had the honor of spending some time with a group of high school and middle school ministry team leaders. These men and women lead and shepherd teams of volunteer leaders who are tirelessly pouring themselves out to introduce kids to Jesus in our local community. Longevity in ministry leadership depends on how deeply you believe that the main reason God has you involved in ministry is first of all because he wants your soul. If you are leading students, if you are on a team, if you are on staff with a church or organization, if you are a parent, it is first of all because Jesus thinks this is the best place to have you right now to get at your heart. He has not called you to serve in leadership because he wants to get something out of you. He has invited you in because he wants to pour into you and apprentice your heart towards himself. When we understand this, then we begin to gain a more long-term perspective on ministry and we are less likely to burn out or put too much pressure on those we are leading which will burn them out.
Each time I get on the plane, the flight attendance say the same thing: “In the event that the cabin loses air pressure, please put your oxygen mask on first and then after you have secured your own mask, help your child to put on their mask.” This is a great metaphor for leadership. Putting on the oxygen mask is like letting Jesus care for our soul. If we understand that this is the priority, the main thing, the first thing… then with our mask on we can offer a lot of help and guidance to others. But the problem is that many of us take off the mask and forget that we need to let Jesus care for our soul first. Letting Jesus care for your soul requires attentiveness:
If you keep the Sabbath, you start to see creation not as somewhere to get away from your ordinary life, but a place to frame an attentiveness to your life. – Eugene H. Peterson
Satan loves to see leaders “take their masks off” and become oxygen starved and unaware. When he sees us take off the mask, get busy and start skimping on our own soul’s need to be with Jesus, in his Word, in prayer… then he smiles like an evil predator and must say to himself… “Ahhh… its only a matter of time before they will be vulnerable for me to attack.”
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. -1 Peter 5:8
Jesus is our Shepherd, our protector… but we need to surrender to him daily and let him shepherd and care for our soul… then as we are in his fold, under his loving authority, we become more resilient and full of him, which enables us to “put the mask” on those near to us, on our teams, etc. If we as under shepherds get taken out because we aren’t letting our soul be cared for, then when the shepherds are struck, the flock scatters. (Zechariah 13:7)
It often seems like the right/compassionate thing to do is to care for the soul of someone else in need even at the expense of our own soul, but this is not the pattern we see in Scripture. Rather, let the Gardner tend to you first… let Jesus tend to your soul’s thirst for God. Then you can attend to the needs of others (leaders on your team and kids) with much more grace.
JESUS TENDS TO YOUR SOUL AS YOU SATURATE YOURSELF IN SCRIPTURE
How are you letting Jesus for your soul these days? I’d encourage you to take a walk out in God’s beautiful creation for a while and consider some of these passages that reflect on our soul’s deepest desires and needs that Jesus is concerned for:
- You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. -Psalm 63:1 (Remember, these Psalms are not the cry of an unhealthy soul, these passages are actually prayers that reflect what a healthy soul longs for…. our soul is always thirsty like a dry land that wants water… this is the normal state of our soul… so let’s let Jesus satisfy us daily)
- Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. -Psalm 63:3
- On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. -Psalm 63:6
- The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. -Psalm 23:1
- Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. -Isaiah 55:1
- Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. -Isaiah 55:2
- As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. -Isaiah 55:10-11
- You are my portion, O LORD… -Psalm 119:57
- Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. -Psalm 119:37
- You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern. – 1 Peter 5:7 (J.B. Philips)
TO THINK ABOUT
- According to these passages, what are some of your soul’s deepest desires?
- How will letting Jesus care for your own soul help you care for the souls of others with more grace?
- What implications do these passages about our soul’s desires have for your ministry team? Your church community? Your family?