“I have a hunch that we often unintentionally miss these practices. As you read each one, ask yourself when you last practiced it.”
The terms spiritual disciplines and spiritual formation have taken center stage in many churches and pastor conversations today.
Essentially, they refer to what we do to build healthy souls. And we all want that. They serve as means to an end—to become more like Jesus—not as ends in themselves. And the most common ones include Bible reading, fasting and prayer.
While I believe that most pastors somewhat regularly practice the main ones, I have a hunch that we may often unintentionally miss the following four. As you read each one, ask yourself when you last practiced it.
1. Not having to have the last word.
Keith Meyer, pastor and author, tells a story about a student in one of Dallas Willard’s classes. At the end of one class, a student rudely challenged him with a question. With Dallas’ keen mind he could have crushed him with an answer. Yet, he gently responded with, “Well, that’s a great question and a good time to end class.”
After the class, several angry and supportive students came up to him asked why he didn’t answer. He said, “I was practicing the discipline of not having to have the last word.”
2. Solitude for the extrovert and community for the introvert.
Introverts usually practice solitude easily, yet may find it difficult to intentionally break their alone time to be with others. The opposite holds true for the extrovert. Silence and solitude can feel excruciating for an extrovert.
Yet, we often need to do the opposite of what comes easy for the greatest impact on our souls.
3. Submission for a Type-A personality.
This reflects my personality. I like to be in charge and lead the way. It’s hard for me to take the back seat. Yet when I do so with a right heart, it counters the temptation to become prideful.
No one likes to be wrong. But when we do wrong—when we sin—Scripture tells us to confess it. It is easier to confess it to God in private. It’s hard to confess it to others against whom we’ve sinned. Yet when we appropriately confess our sin to others, God gives us a deep sense of cleansing and peace in our souls.
What other disciplines do pastors often miss?
Charles Stone is the senior pastor of West Park Church in London, Ontario, Canada, the founder of StoneWell Ministries and the author of several books, including most recently Brain-Savvy Leaders: The Science of Significant Ministry. This post was originally published on CharlesStone.com.