Soul Food

Peace by aotaro

This month I’m doing quite a bit of teaching around Leading Yourself, what we used to call Personal Management in LEAD 365. We work with a lot of successful, growing leaders, some of whom have great boundaries and limits, and some of whom struggle to do anything but work. I tend to fall into the second camp. I like to achieve—to a fault—so even if I’m not working toward something in my career, you can be sure that I’m working toward something, even if that something is simply all the laundry washed, dried, and put away.

This is a great trait, right? Except when it’s not. What is often missing for me is time to nurture my spirit—time for a different kind of soul food. I believe that all of us need time to connect to something greater than ourselves in order to be our best selves. For me, it’s the Christian God. For others, it might be nature, or art, or philosophy, or another religion or worldview. Whatever it is, exercising our spirit is just as important as exercising our mind and body. Sometimes work provides that exercise, but it often does not. Often, in fact, time for spiritual pursuits is perpetually on the back burner unless we bring some intentionality to it. I so admire people who take daily time to connect with God, who start their day with a time of devotion and prayer. I am much more likely to start my day with a dog that needs to go out, a child demanding breakfast, and a husband yelling that I forgot to turn off the alarm clock once again. Mornings are not such a natural time for spiritual nourishment for me and for many of the parents of young children who I work with. So instead, I nourish my spirit in the cracks of time that open up in my day.

I spend a lot of time in my car, and podcasts have gone a long way to help me connect to God. It’s one of the only times in my life that I am truly alone, and so on that half hour drive from Grand Rapids to Zeeland, I use the Pray as You Go app. If you are a Christian, it’s a really peaceful way to nurture your soul while driving, running, or in whatever other cracks of time you might have (it has bells! and English accents!). I also love to keep a mindset of minimalism and simplicity in my life, which is really hard to do in our consumer culture. I love the Becoming Minimalist blog and The Simple Show podcast. I also try to get outside as much as possible, because that’s a great way for me to connect with God while also getting some physical exercise. A two-for-one, which this achiever loves.

What about you? How do you take time to nurture your spirit and care for yourself in your busy life? How do you model this for the people you lead? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Meredith

Image by aotaro. Used under CC BY 2.0 license.

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