For many years I have known that my call has been to minister to “the soul life” of men. The “care of souls” has defined much of what motivates me in men’s ministry. I started using the word “soul” intentionally, when others were shying away from “soul talk.” So I was thrilled to see a bestselling author like John Ortberg, talking about soul in his new book “Soul Keeping.”
Ortberg compares the soul to a car. “If you want to care for your car, you have to know what the parts do.” You need to look at what is under the hood. We not only have a soul but we are a soul; we are “embodied souls“. Genesis 2:7 reminds us that God, “formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive – a living soul.” – The Message). The soul observes Ortberg, “is what holds us all together, what connects our will and our minds, our bodies and connects us to God.” A healthy soul is whole and integrated, connected to God, at peace with God, with himself and with others. To have an unhealthy soul is to live in denial with what is going on inside. “One of the worst parts about having an unhealthy soul is we’re able to keep ourselves from seeing how unhealthy it is,” observes Ortberg.
Men, how is the health of your soul? This comes to you as a “soul alert. From my experience men need to become “soulful”, not neglecting their souls, but listening to what the soul has to tell them. Men naturally want to stay in “the control tower” of reason and control. But remember the soul is the deepest part of who we are – a mystery to befriend rather than neglect. It is shy, needing to be welcomed into awareness. Soul is the most personal term we have to describe our life with God. Eugene Peterson reminds us that “soul has given way to ‘self’ as the term of choice to designate who and what we are. Self is the soul minus God.” A lot of “self talk” needs to be replace with “soul talk.”
So, men here are some tips on being more soulful, while maintain a healthy soul. 1) Ask for grace to accept what is going on in your soul, the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is the real you. Hiding is unhealthy. 2) Admit your neglect of your inner life – living in illusions not reality. 3) Admit your fear of listening to your soul. It takes courage to see what is really in your “tank.” A lot has been stored there waiting to come into the light. 4) Have courage to face the pain . You need to “get to” and “through” the pain. 5) Keep your eyes on Jesus, to find help in separating the good from the bad. You might need a “spiritual friend.”
Remember this comes to you as a “soul alert.” Most men are uncomfortable with “soul talk.” I am asking each of you to consider the healthy of your soul. It is your center. Don’t neglect it. “And what do you benefit if you gain to whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matt 16:26)