I think Ortberg does us a great service by focusing our attention inward. As a leader, it is the easiest thing in the world to be caught up with activity and getting things done, with always looking forward, making plans, and working to execute them, evaluating the results, and then doing it again. And in the process we lose our souls.
Part of the value of Soul Keeping, for me, was simply the focus. It’s a good reminder of what is most important—my being rather than my doing. Ironically, I talk about that often, as I’m sure many of us do, but when I stepped back to look at the state of my soul, I found that my reality didn’t always line up with my words.
I have long believed that in ministry, and in life, we reproduce who we are. We teach what we know, but ultimately we reproduce who we are. That is true in our churches, our families, our businesses, and everywhere else we relate to people. And that means that taking the time to care for our souls is important not just for us, but for those around us.
Like all of us, I face the challenge of busy-ness. Leading a church and building a business challenge me continually—I always have a longer to-do list than I can get through in a day. I have to discipline myself to take time away, to close the computer and turn off the phone in order to take time alone and take time with God. It never seems to just happen—I have to be intentional about it.
One practice I recommend is actually doing a time log. Keep track of how you spend your time for a week. Get a calendar or log and write down what you actually do in 15- or 30-minute increments. It’s an eye-opening experience. It reveals how we actually spend our time as opposed to how we think we spend it. I often find that I waste more time than I’m aware of and spend less time with God than I give myself credit for. The good news is that keeping a time log allows us to correct our course and do the things that are really important.
One other note: I really liked the way Ortberg described freedom. There are two aspects to freedom: freedom from and freedom for. Most of the time I think we put the emphasis on freedom from, but it is having freedom for that enables us to accomplish things and press into new areas. I talk to people all the time who don’t have that kind of freedom, usually because they have accepted a way of thinking about themselves that limits them. They have embraced a ceiling to their accomplishments or to the quality of life they could have that stops them from ever trying to go beyond that invisible line. And they end up living a lesser life than they could have.
One of the most powerful and important things we can do as leaders is help people recognize that limiting thinking and break free from it. When we do, we will see the people around us accomplish more and have more joy—and that is what I call a real win, all from paying attention to one particular aspect of our soul.
What do you think? How have you cared for your soul? Any suggestions or warnings for the rest of us?