What is soul care?
We all have a soul, whether we recognize it or not. In fact, it's the deepest part of who we are, the part that goes on living forever. Even though you can't see your soul functioning, you can see the results.
"Your soul is what integrates your will (your intentions), your mind (your thoughts and feelings, your values and conscience), and your body (your face, body language, and actions) into a single life. A soul is healthly - well-ordered - when there is harmony between these three entities and God's intent for all creation. When you are connected with God and other people in life, you have a healthy soul." [John Ortberg, Soul Keeping (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), 37.]
Soul care is a Christian ministry that helps you pay attention to your soul, to recognize and to partner with God in the work already taking place, and to function in ways that lead to flourishing within and without.
Soul Care is tied into Christian Spiritual Formation in the sense that we are all called to the life-long process of partnering with the Holy Spirit to allow the fullness of God's love to transform us more and more into the image of Jesus Christ for the sake of others. We are not saved for the sole purpose of leaving this earth to spend an eternity with God. Rather, we are forgiven and set free from the bondage of sin (the primary cause of our soul's dis-integration) so that we can experience the fullness of life the way God intended - at peace with ourselves, with the world, and with God. Jesus modeled this way of life even as he modeled God to us, just as Colossians 1:15 so eloquently states: "Christ is the visible image of the invisible God..."
We do not believe that soul care replaces the free gift of salvation. That gift came at a great price, which has already been paid by Christ on the cross. "For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross." (Col. 1:19-20 NLT)
"But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:4-7 NLT)
What a wonderful reminder of God's mercy, love, grace and kindness! Soul Care is really nothing more than clearing the way for those attributes of God to once again resonate and bear fruit in our lives.
Who Needs Soul Care?
Soul care is for all who are tired, weary and broken. Those who minister and care for others in a church or through a non-profit organization, as well as those who lead in the marketplace, are especially susceptible to burn-out and in desperate need of care. We were not created to always be "on the go" yet we have packed our lives so full that we no longer have time to rest and recover.
Soul care is for everyone who recognizes their own deficiency of resources necessary to resist the constant pressures and demands of the world which is constantly saying "Prove yourself...Do more...You're only as good as your next great achievement." Soul care is for the courageous ones who are willing to go against the pull and the pace of the crowd and run a different sort of race. Soul care is for those who would like to be restored back to health from the inside out and grow closer to God so that life can be lived to its fullest!
Why Should I care for my soul?
Stories of burn-out and moral failure often include an awareness, after the fact, that the person was so busy "doing" and "producing" that they did not know how sick their soul had become. If we neglect the care of our souls, we will begin to fall apart bit by bit. We can only keep busying ourselves and pretending to be okay for so long until one day we can't. If our soul dis-integrates, we no longer have the ability to function (work, serve, lead, love) from a healthy center.