“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.” –Psalm 23:1-3
A common greeting we tend to share with one another almost out of habit is, “How are you?” Most of the time, our common response is, “Fine,” whether we are truly doing well or not. Our founder of Methodism, John Wesley would ask a different question. In fact, he would open most of his small group meetings, known as ‘classes,’ with the question, “How is it with your soul?” That is a much deeper question than, “How are you?” and requires us to think a bit deeper about our own spirit and how we are really doing. It is a question that we perhaps avoid, especially when the busyness of life is on the rise, because it forces us to really take a look at our own heart and soul.
I am thankful to our church and Staff Parish Relations Committee, to afford me the time in August to be on a renewal leave. I look forward to asking myself the John Wesley question…How is it with your soul? And then spend some time in a variety of ways reflecting on that question. I am not feeling ‘burned out’ in ministry, but two years into my appointment at SPUMC feels like a good time to take time to reflect. And, sometimes the best way to do that is to give heart and soul a little rest.
I tend to be a person with daily disciplines and routines that work well for me and help me navigate the demands of ministry and life. But, it is also easy to get wrapped up in those disciplines, routines and demands and not take the time to really ask and answer the question that John Wesley opened groups and meetings with…How is it with your soul?
This question can help us think about other questions such as, “What are the things that I’m engaging in that bring my soul closer God?” “What am I doing that brings joy to my life and the lives of others?” “What am I doing that drains the life out of my soul?” And, “Am I confusing disciplines and routines with commitment?”
The How is it with your soul? question can help make sure that we still find life in things that we may have taken for granted because of our daily disciplines and routines. It has been said that prayer is to our souls as breathing is to our bodies. Wesley’s question can help us make sure our soul is still breathing. I am looking forward to pausing in August and spending some intentional time with family and friends and my own soul, breathing, praying, laughing, and sharing time.
I invite us all to find time to ask, “How is it with your soul?” to ourselves and to someone else, and then genuinely take time to listen. It’s an important question and I thank John Wesley for it!