Spiritual Practices

September 06, 2018

by Rev. Kathie Sherrill, Retired Elder

Early in my ministry I was reminded of the importance of the spiritual practices nurtured in my childhood by my parents. Daily prayer and scripture reading are things that my parents modeled as individuals and included as daily family time together. I carried these practices into my life and continue them today.

Spiritual formation is important in the ongoing journey of ministry and leadership as those set apart to lead others to a deeper relationship with God, Jesus Christ, and all of humankind. From the beginning of creation God demonstrated the importance of discipline in one’s life when setting apart a day of rest after days of the work of creating. The life-giving patterns of scripture are in the times, ways, and places that gathered to focus on and worship God and learn to love one another. When persons chose to move away from those patterns they found themselves in trouble and distant from life-giving relationships.

One of the reasons spiritual practices are important for clergy and leaders in the church is because it is easy to become busy and distracted as the needs and responsibilities pile on. There are times when it is easy to forget the most important parts of life, hard to stop and ground one’s self in the love that called us to leadership in the beginning.

Another reason it is important to develop spiritual practices is to be an example to those we love and serve. Jesus took time to go apart from the crowds and his disciples. That time gave him time to remember the source of love and power that sustained him. He modeled for the disciples and the crowds that it is important to find space to connect with God.

There are many spiritual disciplines that one can develop and practice. No one practice is going to be for everyone. Two books that have been important for me are Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life by Majorie J. Thompson and Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. These books provide an explanation of the spiritual practice and examples of how to incorporate the practice in your daily life. I have also found the Companions with Christ Series from Upper Room Books an excellent study for small groups.

During my years of active ministry, I had opportunities to share with individuals and groups why I found practicing spiritual disciplines important. I also reminded them that no one practice will sustain one throughout the full journey of life. Find the practices that nurture your relationship with God and others. Some of us are comfortable with silence and others need to be active and involved, that’s a good thing, just don’t let anything stand in the way of establishing a practice.

As a child I would walk through the woods down by a creek near our house. I would climb my favorite tree and sit as the sun shone through the leaves. There I would sit and talk to Jesus. That closeness with him has made all the difference in my life.
Follow Jesus. Make Disciples. Transform the World.