The guidance of souls is the art of arts!

Gregory of Nyssa (330-95 A.D.), a Cappadocian bishop and theologian, speaks of the importance of those doing "soul work" (i.e. physicians of the heart) being as qualified, if not more so, than medical physicians.

“No one ever attempts to teach any art unless he has learned it himself after much thought. With what stupidity, then, would the pastoral office be undertaken by the unqualified, seeing that the guidance of souls is the art of arts! Who does not recognize that the wounds of the mind are more concealed than the internal lesions of the body? Those who have no knowledge of the curing powers of drugs shrink from pretending to be physicians of the body. Nevertheless, persons who are totally ignorant of spiritual matters are often not afraid to present themselves as physicians of the heart."

in Jerome M. Neufelder and Mary C. Coelho, editors. Writings on Spiritual Direction. New York: The Seabury Press, 1982, p. 28.)

As a Soul Artisan™, or one who facilitates and instructs others in the art of living from the soul, I do not take lightly imparting the things that I do not possess or have not experienced. I am ignorant of much - but I do know that without God's love being experienced in the deepest corners of my being, I will remain flat, vapid, and uninteresting to a world longing to know there is a deeper Love that will meet their deepest ache. Caring for souls is an awesome task. It is a humbling task. It is mysterious and more often than I care to admit, seemingly unproductive. Those looking for quick fixes don't look for soul care... quick fixes change the externals, but rarely the core of one's being. Those who are unwilling to unhurryup!™ - to slow their pace and pay attention, cannot experience the lasting transformation that comes from accepting God's invitation to come close.

For most of us who have been chosen (rarely does someone choose such a demanding, difficult, unmeasurable job description) to be involved in the guidance of souls, it is an underpaid, undervalued, unrecognized calling. That's okay - I haven't met anyone yet who cares deeply about soul cure who stops doing it because they are not valued or paid well. There is a deeper understanding of the privilege of companioning others in an inward soul journey to listen to the "still, small, voice" of God within. As the angel of the Lord said to Elijah, "The Journey is too much for you..." (1 Kings 19:7) (and the journey, take note, was not to go out and do more ministry - but to journey to a place where Elijah could hear the gentle whispers of God.)

So often pastors and ministry leaders are trained in preaching, exegeting scripture and in systematic theology - all very wonderful, good and important things. But how often are spiritual leaders guided to listen to His gentle whispers - even in the midst of earthquakes, winds, and fires? Without also being led in the guidance of the soul, (Love encountering and healing those deep, hidden, bare-naked flabby portions of which we're deeply afraid or in denial) - the homilies, the acts of service, the serving on committees, the evangelism, is more an inauthentic exporting of our neuroses and biases, than of His heart.

Without daily experiencing and soaking in God's love (not just a one hour quiet time, but a being WITH Him throughout the day...being in step with His Spirit...being in sync with and joining the Father in what He is already doing vs. asking Him to bless the strategic and culturally relevant plans I'm making) I operate in the second command (of loving others) vs. letting the second command flow out of the First. (Matt 22:37-40). What does the First Command look like in your daily living - how are you letting God love you?

Do you have guidance for your soul? Are you interested in journeying with a soul companion or to discover, recover or deepen intimacy with God...with yourself...with others?

What questions does this arouse in you? What fears? What longings? Lean into His wooing you deeper, closer...He is for you, not against you (Romans 8:31-32).