First, the easy part. It died because I didn’t write anything. Why didn’t I write anything? Because it is time consuming. Why do I find it time consuming? Simple. I can speak faster than I can write. What takes 5 minutes to say takes 45-60 minutes to write, edit, rewrite, correct, proof read, re-edit, take a deep breath and hit “publish.”

What am I doing about it? I am meeting with a friend of mine who is a “spiritual director” but not as a New Age guru and definitely not as a martial arts sensei. My friend is a former pastor who served in one church for 23 years. He is gifted and trained as a spiritual director. He specializes in asking questions and waiting for answers. Recently I showed him my list of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual spiritual growth goals. He asked me, “Which of these are you actually doing?” I replied, “Only one or two.” I told him I had memorized Psalm 145. However, it took me longer than my “one psalm every quarter” goal. This is because I am easily distracted. Also, the time it takes to memorize chunks of Scripture has evaporated from my schedule–along with the time it takes to blog. The solution?

Over coffee this morning, my friend asked if I would like his help to accomplish my goals. Admitting that I was ignoring my goals was one thing. Asking my friend to probe beneath the surface to find out what was happening was not so easy. To pay for his spiritual direction seems like a novel idea. I pay an auto mechanic to do major repair work on my car. I pay house repair specialists (like a plumber). I pay the cable guy to connect or disconnect stuff. I even pay the garbage company to empty cans weekly. But why would I pay a spiritual director? According to him, spiritual direction is for those “hungry for something more.” That’s me.

The only annual goal that I had written down was to take a personal spiritual retreat once each year for at least three and not more than seven days. As it turns out, my friend has taken such retreats and is wiling to lead one for me. Just the two of us. How scary is that? How cool is that?

It is both scary and cool. The scary part is admitting that I do not have time to step away from the pressing needs of family, church, friends, even strangers. (I know I’m not indispensable, but who is going to get all the stuff done?) The cool part is taking time away to read God’s Word and actually expect Him to speak to me–not just through me to others on Sunday morning. The saying “Never trust a skinny cook” is applicable to pastors who always prepare spiritual meals for others and neglect to feed their own souls.

The idea of a personal spiritual retreat is biblical. Jesus often withdrew from the press of ministry to spend time in private prayer, even praying all night (Luke 4:42; 6:12; 9:18, 28; 11:1; 21:37). Accepting spiritual direction means inviting someone else to speak into my life. That happens frequently over coffee with my friends. And, it’s free! However, while I value their advice, prayer, perspective, and friendship, I promptly (spoiler alert) forget most of what we talked about. Not so strangely, it is easier to remember advice when we are paying for it.

I have recommended personal spiritual retreats to others. I have one colleague in ministry who makes it a habit. It is time for me to slow down. Get away. Draw near to God. Enjoy friendship. Submit to a brother speaking into my life. Before the end of 2017 I will go on my first personal spiritual retreat in nine years since coming to FBC-Silverton. Ask me about it.

Will it make me a better husband, father, son, and pastor? I hope so. At least I should be able to slow down and blog more often :-) John Ortberg wrote an article that describes his experience with spiritual direction called “The Uncluttered Soul” in Christianity Today. I will be glad to give you a copy to read. Just ask.

Tom

One Thought on “Why this blog died (and what I’m doing about it)

  1. Keith Baldwin on July 8, 2017 at 9:39 pm said:

    Thanks for being vulnerable and leading with humility.

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