I came across this article in my Facebook newsfeed this morning from the West Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church (you should like their Facebook page if you haven’t, btw). While the article reflects directly on the cause of clergy burnout, this article by Anne Dilenschneider speaks to an audience broader than just clergy.
Many of us live in a state of spiritual poverty (not to be confused with what Jesus meant by “poor in spirit” in the beatitudes, but that is a different conversation). We have forgotten the practices and disciplines that the church has practiced throughout the ages that lead us into deeper knowledge and love of God. How often do we fast? How often do we sit down in silence and assess the state of our souls? How often do we pray in a way that offers up more than a laundry list of things that we want God to do? How often do we sit and listen to God? How often do we meditate on Scripture, and let the words sink into our hearts? How often do we confess our sin to God? How often do we receive the sacrament of Holy Communion recognizing that it is a means of grace whereby Christ is actually present with us in a unique way?
It is not just laity that have this problem. It is pastors too. We have become so focused on “being effective” that we forget what it means to become spiritually formed people and to care for and nurture the soul.
Anne Dilenschneider quotes John Wesley in her article today, as he offers important words that we all need to hear:
[This is] what has exceedingly hurt you in times past, nay, and I fear, to this day … Whether you like it or no, read and pray daily. It is for your life; there is no other way … Do justice to your own soul; give it time and means to grow. Do not starve yourself any longer.
We are a starving generation of laity and clergy and we need to seek out the practices and disciplines that will allow us to do justice to our own souls.
To read all of Dilenschneider’s article, go here.