“Soul Care. The definition of soul care is vast and varied. Soul care, according to the strictest sense of the words, involves literally caring for and curing the very breath that gives us life. It is tending to the deepest needs of the soul.”
- American Association of Christian Counselors
My tank was pretty much on empty. I was showing up to work every day and was pretty proud of how I showed up to every game, practice, or other children’s event for my first 3 children who were 13, 10, and 7 at the time. I was super present in my children’s lives, but knew in my heart that I didn’t really have much to offer.
At a men’s weekend in Colorado a little over 15 years ago, we were forced to take a hard look at our lives, our parenting, and our marriage. It wasn’t a “beat down” like I had experienced at so many faith-based men’s events, but an open and inspiring invitation to reach for more.
I wanted more of that, but even as I heard what was being offered, I countered with my perfect attendance record in my own defense. I was flooded with the sobering reality that ALL I had to offer was my attendance. I wasn’t bringing any life, joy, abundance, adventure, or even the hope of a better or transformed life.
I was merely showing up because that is all I could do.
I not only was never gone, I was never away in the ways I need to be to recharge, replenish, fill my tanks, and do the things I need to do to be a source of life for my family. I was just surviving.
And despite all the rhetoric from me and others about an abundant life, restoration, freedom, and all those other inspiring deliverables the gospel offered, the reality of my life wasn’t much of a billboard to sell anything to anyone. I wasn’t even buying it. The reality that my kids wouldn’t either and would make different choices one day, was terrifying to me.
I began to model what I had been taught at that event. They offered a priority of relationships and time spent that has become even more refined and clear. It is increasingly poignant and necessary in the increasingly chaotic times we live.
In order to live a healthy, abundant, and fulfilling life, they offered this hierarchy:
- SOUL CARE
- A FEW (friends)
- EVERYTHING ELSE
The first is pretty obvious, but it gets pretty challenging from there. Soul Care? It felt touchy-feely, selfish, and in conflict with my desire to honor my wife and my kids. But honoring this priority of relationships and time has changed everything in my life. Spending time on soul care was the missing ingredient that changed everything else.
When I started honoring what God created in me, the deepest things, everything else started to find its’ proper order. While my attendance record was no longer as perfect, I no longer just attended when I was there, I showed up. I brought abundant life, joy, adventure, and proof of the restoration that was offered. As I was claiming more, they were all finding the same.
Prioritizing my marriage first before my children got easier. Our children actually felt more loved as our marriage relationship strengthened.
I came to understand that dozens of “friends” in the way I had known them paled in comparison to a few deep and lasting ones over time.
And when I showed up to work or engaged in the avocational things I felt called to, I showed up more powerfully there as well. Prioritizing God and Soul Care above all else actually made me more effective in every way.
Permissioning other leaders to prioritize Soul Care has been one of the more disruptive and transformative things we do with leaders.
- Are you operating with a full tank?
- Are you bringing abundant life, joy, energy, adventure, or purpose to those you love and lead?
- How much time are you spending on soul care?
- Are you doing the things you need to do to take care of yourself so that you are really able to take care of others?