Last week at the Young Life All-Staff Celebration I learned that pastoral leaders:
- Experience emotion more deeply than others
- Offer a defensive, superlative self (a.k.a. they need to be liked)
- Carry a depressive trait (twice the national average)
- Know shame intimately
- Like to have their own thoughts, do their own thing, and go their own way
- Have an insatiable, addictive trait
- Embody emotion and spiritual unhealth as physical (rather than emotional) symptoms
YIKES! Sitting there, trying to take in these 7 fairly simple statements was like being challenged to a stare-0ff against my own soul – creepy! – and then discovering its dark and terrifying power over me.
The doctor leading this seminar pointed out three ways of finding health as a pastoral leader in the midst of these potentially consuming traits. The first – living in, rather than solving, tension – I loved (for obvious reasons if you regularly read this blog). The third involves engaging your inner critic. But the second I found especially interesting as it had never crossed my conscious radar.
The second way involves creating an INNER SPACE that is: large, loving, secure, vital, at peace, communal, welcoming, flexible, constructive, and patient. I can best describe this as my capacity to carry the weight of myself and other people; something resembling C.S. Lewis’s “weight-of-glory.” (The article is long but one of Lewis’s best; definitely a worthwhile read.)
Inner space is fleeting, vaporous even. But as we believe in a spacious, roomy, and consistent God, we will discover our identities – our inner spaces – can become spacious, roomy, and consistent as well.
This involves intentional cultivation: eating well, sleeping deeply, playing hard, reading scripture, laughing easily, fellowship, wonder, prayer, and being still. Are you doing any of these? Are you doing them well? What’s your inner space like these days? Spacious, roomy, and consistent? Are you able to carry the weight of your own glory? What about your neighbor’s? What about your enemy’s?
I’m seeking to become more aware (but not critical) of my own inner space.