The Practice of Spiritual Friendships {The LIFT Project}

In week 3 of the LIFT Course on The Leader’s Soul, Mindy Caliguire gave us 6 spiritual practices leaders must consider in terms of soul care:

Prayer {Central to everything, the language of our relationship with God, the most direct and obvious way our soul opens up to God – His person, His grace, His healing}

Use of Scripture {Not one particular but all… study, memorization, meditation, praying scriptures, etc.}

Spiritual Friendship {One that often gets left off the charts because we want to protect ourselves.  People in ministry tend to isolate themselves.}

Solitude {connecting to the idea of silence to exempt ourselves from the demands of life where we can hear from God}

Soul Searching {Examining your heart in the spirit of Psalm 139: “Search me Oh God and know my heart…”}

Simplicity {NOT about making your life more manageable but a focused life on Jesus, living with integrity and faithfulness to the life He has called you to}

Mindy says the biggest enemy to simplicity is actually duplicity.  Where we are one person in one environment {church, small group, Bible study} and another person in a different environment {school, work, at home}.    It occurred to me that in order to live a life of Biblical simplicity, one cannot avoid the call to live in and through Spiritual Friendships.  Sometimes called “fellowship,” spiritual friends are those who you can be your authentic self with, who you can go to when you need prayer for the deepest, darkest parts of your life, those who you have invited to hold you accountable to walking in the way of Jesus and those who spur you on to love and good deeds, who encourage you, who help you maximize your strengths but are not afraid to walk alongside you in your weakness.

It is through spiritual friendships that we can come face to face with the living God, when we can actually touch, see and feel the work of Jesus in this broken world.  Through spiritual friendship we learn, are stretched and are even broken by community. 

Authentic spiritual friendships are where the temptation to live in duplicity is broken down and the joy of living in simplicity is ushered in.

We were asked at the end of this session to discuss two questions:

1. What has been the biggest challenge for you as a leader in engaging in spiritual practices?

2. What is one spiritual practice that you most depend on these days?

My answers… number 1… prayer and silence.  A mom of 4 has little time for silence and I see now why it’s called a discipline.  Discipline is difficult and it requires a will with intention and perseverance.  Honestly, I’m tired most of the time and when it’s silent I tend to fall asleep.  On a good day I will wake up early and take a few moments to myself that include silence and prayer.  This requires the discipline of setting the alarm and not being distracted by housework, emails, Facebook etc.  But the practice of prayer… really consistently going to the face down with own life and the lives of those I love and shepherd is one that I need to set aside time for.  Sure, I pray all day long…quick popcorn prayers that I believe whole heartedly God hears, loves and answers.  But the kind of prayer you take a considerable time for, the kind that nurtures your soul is one I crave.

Secondly the discipline I rely most on is that of spiritual friendships.  For me as a leader, I’m thankful that I’ve never been tempted to isolate from the few who I know love me despite all my shortcomings.  Without these friends, first and foremost my husband, I don’t think I could survive.  Yet the fear of disappointment, the fear of of not measuring up, the balance of loving my family as much as I love my friends are all distractions that have their way of creeping in.

Practice makes perfect they say.  So spiritual practices or disciplines if you will, are a necessary part of sanctification that God so desires for us.

“And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” ~ James 1:4

What about you?

1. What has been the biggest challenge for you as a leader in engaging in spiritual practices?

2. What is one spiritual practice that you most depend on these days?

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