As well intentioned Christians and ministry leaders, many of us have bought into the idea, that if our work produces ‘fruit’ then it must be God’s will, no matter what it costs us and our families. Too often the seduction of public fruit causes us to offer up our body, our health and our souls for the sake of others in the name of God.
In this short podcast, and with courage and profound humility, Shauna Neiquist, holds up her own experience of living a life without silence, as an important model of what not to do and as a cautionary tale of what a life lived in fear of silence will reap in your life.
Shauna spoke of how we as Christian’s will often wreck ourselves in pursuit of building the Kingdom of God and in pursuit of the Christian life. She spoke of a year in which she traveled over 40 times to make speaking engagements at conferences, churches, and colleges. She spoke of a year in which she ran hard, to the point of great success, yet to the point of physical, emotional and spiritual burn out.
If running ourselves ragged produces ‘fruit’ in the lives of others, we will often overlook that raggedness, believing that surely if it was successful, then it was good, necessary and blessed by God to continue thriving in this way.
Shauna challenges us to consider that if your very self is not included in the Kingdom you serve, then your ministry is not thriving.
We often justify the noise and pace at which we live by assessing does it produce fruit in the life of others – never pausing to ask is it also producing fruit in our own lives. Now by no means, was Shauna’s message an invitation to become selfish or inward focused, rather – it felt like freedom. Freedom to accept the gift of our human limitations, the smallness of our capacity and the reality that it does no good to gain the whole world, if in the process we loose our very soul.
Matthew 16:26 begs the question, “Is anything worth more than your soul?”
The answer of course, is an emphatic no. Shauna beautifully surmised that at the end of the day, despite what the world or even the church may have us believe, we are limited. It is here – in this gentle realization that we are profoundly limited – that silence gets to enter in.
She eloquently shared that despite what others may expect of her, she is not a fire hose of constant work, energy and endless self giving. Rather, she is a small and steady steam. Trickling cool and clear into the world to give what only she can give, in the measure that protects her soul, because her soul is also part of the Kingdom God is trying to build.
Have you believed the lie that you are unlimited? That you have to press harder, faster, stronger to live out God’s calling in your life? If the outside of your cup is clean, yet the inside is exhausted and burned out, then we have sorely missed the point. It is God’s heart for you that you would resist the urge to burn yourself out to reach just one more goal.
May Shauna’s cautionary tale convict and encourage you into a rhythm of silence. May you realize in your heart of hearts that you too are part of God’s Kingdom, and caring for yourself is as important to God as the list of demands for your time and service.
*Taken in part from The Practice