12 September 2017
Hello class members of “Soul Work – doing the unseen work in a leader’s life!” Welcome aboard…
I am looking forward to being with you and journeying alongside you on Tuesday afternoons this fall. We start Tuesday, September 19 at 1:30pm, meeting at Stone Creek Church, 2502 So. Race Street, Urbana, IL at 1:30pm.
The older I get the more important I feel it is to give attention to caring for our soul. When I think about the class before us this fall, this question of Jesus stirs in my heart and mind, “What does it profit you to gain the whole world and then lose your soul?”
Christian philosopher and writer Dallas Willard thought to lose the soul was more of a diagnosis than a destination. He said to lose the soul is to lose the healthy center that organizes and guides our lives. So, gaining the whole world will not help us, if our inside world is collapsing. Exactly!
I have been praying for the 15 who are signed up for the class. I wanted to write a few notes (essentially, the syllabus) today, telling you about the class that begins September 19.
After talking with some who are signed up for the class, I know most of us are committed to peeling back more layers of your soul and asking, “Who is that inside of me anyway?” and “What is that God wants from me?” “What is it that God has knit together in my mother’s womb?”
The class will be fun and painful and stretching as we explore those questions. Mostly I am just so glad you have chosen to jump on board. You have made a good decision!
Time: Tuesday September 19 through Tuesday October 24. 1:30-3:30pm for 6 consecutive weeks.
Location: Stone Creek Church, 2502 S. Race Street, Urbana, IL. (Enter through the double doors on the East wing).
The thrust of the entire 6-week class will center on exploring Christian Formation and Spiritual Direction, both crucial aspects when caring for the soul.
For years I have pondered and practiced spiritual disciplines that have helped me see more clearly what it means to have “Christ formed in me,” (a great 4-word description of Spiritual Formation) as the Apostle Paul says in Galatians. This past summer I got to spent 7 weeks in Phoenix, AZ, studying both Christian Formation and Spiritual Direction at Phoenix Seminary. It was a great change of pace for me, and fun.
For me, the biggest blessing, and the most interesting part of the class, was listening to other people tell their stories – how they desire to more deeply explore their soul, despite their many false starts, what happens when they feel they truly connect with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and why is it that I can feel totally connected with God one day and so far from him the next?
I listened to their stories; they listened to mine. What an honor to hear some of another person’s spiritual journey. Many times, I found myself saying to the other class members this summer at Phoenix Seminary, “I feel so honored to have heard more of your story. Thank you so much for being transparent, for being candid, and for sharing so openly. I will hold it in my heart.”
This summer’s experience reinforced what I have now come to believe through hundreds of appointments with pastors and leaders in the last few years: Every person has a beautiful and important story – unique in all the world really. A central part of every person’s spiritual formation is discovering, embracing and telling that story. Because deep down, every person wants to be known and to know others.
The class, then, has 2 objectives:
1. To get a firmer handle on cultivating our relationship with God.
2. To ask ourselves and each other, “What is God doing in our lives?”
** There are no required books for the class per se, although as we go along I will introduce you to lots of books that you might want to read. There are scores and scores of excellent books and web sites available, addressing spiritual formation and direction. I will suggest readings, prayers and web sites as we go. At the end of each class, I will give you something to think about for the next week.
** Mostly I want you to commit to coming to class for the whole 6 weeks. (You have a lot to offer the rest of us! Each person’s story is so crucial as together we consider what it means to be formed in Christ!) Try to arrive by 1:20pm so we can start at 1:30pm. I will dismiss us by 3:30pm.
** There is a little “homework” before class begins September 19. Take 10 or 15 minutes between now and next Tuesday, September 19, and think about what is it that draws you to the class. That is, when you think about title: “Soul Work – Doing the Unseen work in a leader’s life,” what is it that you find compelling and interesting? I’d like to know what that is.
Generally, the class will be divided into 2 sections:
1:30-2:20 Each week starts with a Scripture reading and time of reflection; I will then lead a short discussion of the day’s topic.
2:20-2:30 10-min. break.
2:30-3:10 Listening and reflecting
(Each week we will divide into groups of 3. I will give you the specifics when we meet the first week. One person will share while the others listen and respond… After meeting with pastors and leaders for many years, I am convinced this is one of the best ways for a person to hear God more deeply and the best way for those hearing to practice deep, genuine listening. A great spiritual director largely is a person practicing deep listening – listening to the one speaking, listening to your own thoughts and listening to the Holy Spirit. You will get to practice both speaking about an issue important to you and listening to others share what is one their mind!)
3:10-3:25 Q & A, and thoughts about the next week.
Week #1 – Introduction, What is the soul?; How do we care for the soul anyway?; Discussion: Who is responsible for doing our soul work? Group Listening; Q & A.
Week #2 – The heart of the soul: Praying the Daily Examen; Praying the creeds & other prayers; Discussion: What order of prayer and liturgy does your church practice? How about you personally? What do you practice during your “quiet times?” What practices and prayer always seem to speak to your heart? What needs to stay the same in your regular times with the Lord? What would you like to change? What practices would you like to explore?; Group Listening; Q & A.
Week #3 – Wisdom & Soul Care: How the 3 dimensions of our relationships — with God, with ourselves & with others — work in concert to penetrate the soul, compelling us to live godly, spirit-filled lives. Discussion: Practicing the full circle of Relational Wisdom (God-awareness, Self-awareness, other-awareness) helps up uncover the layers of the soul, prodding us to ask, “What do I know?” and “What will I do?”; Group Listening; Q & A.
Week #4 – Emotions: The Language of the soul; Discussion: Jesus’ emotional health [Luke 7] came from a well-cared for soul. How can we tell? How might be true for our own soul care?; Group Listening; Q & A.
Week #5 – Connecting with God through silence, solitude, liturgy, retreating; Discussion: How are we shaped through the practices of Lectio Divina, centering prayer, and our personal and corporate liturgies? How do we practice discernment using these methods? Group Listening; Q & A.
Week #6 – How do we fine-time walking the steps of Jesus in our 21-century world?; Discussion: What does God want each of us to do as we plan, practice and implement soul work into our lives?; Group Listening; Q & A.
605 E. Dodson Drive, Urbana, IL 61802