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“The reason I share my junk with you is because you’re not a monkish spiritual formation guy,” a pastor told me. “I can’t relate to the contemplative spiritual direction types.”

Do you resonate with this pastor’s words? I know I do.

I’m a workaholic who has been in recovery for many years. Drivenness and intensity are natural for me. My wife and a close friend tell me I can do the work of three people.

I know what it’s like to be a Type A leader.

If you’re anything like me, you know the dangers even good things can present. Spiritual disciplines and ministry projects can turn into drugs that get us high but leave us disconnected from relationships—including our friendship with Christ.

We can all relate to losing sight of Jesus while serving Jesus. And when our doing for Jesus outweighs our being with Jesus, we might be serving our own ego more than we realize.

I didn’t see this as a young leader. I was more present to ministry than to my two small children, who needed time and emotional attentiveness from their Daddy. My wife was frazzled and drained to the breaking point.

Thankfully God pierced my heart. I want to say it was through a Bible revelation or a time of repentant solitude. But Holy Spirit got my attention through my wife’s emotional meltdowns over my addiction to ministry success.

Kristi watched me give the best of myself during counseling sessions, work too many hours at the church, and then devote the rest of my energy to writing books during my “free time.” Meanwhile, she held a young boy in her right arm and a younger girl in her left.

Sadly, an inner sense of inadequacy and shame fueled my workaholism and left my priorities in shambles.

I sobered up quickly the day she confronted me by asking, “Will you co-author the lives of our three children with me?” That’s how I learned she was pregnant with our third child!

God arrested my heart. I stopped writing books. I stopped doing media appearances. I stopped speaking in public outside of my local church for fourteen years.

Obeying God against the ambitions of my flesh took me to “rock bottom.” I spiraled into a dark abyss of depression and felt empty without the attention brought by ministry success. It seemed like my dreams had died. And all of this spilled into my career as a counselor.

I felt like a zero.

And this was exactly the medicine my soul needed.

Whenever we hit a wall in life, ministry, or relationships, Jesus extends a hidden invitation to healing and wholeness. He draws out our wounded emotions and unseen sin so we can get honest with him and ourselves about our needs.

It took a while, but I finally learned to really rest my body and soul in Christ. My joy started to come from loving Jesus and the people around me. That’s when God led us to care for pastors and leaders by starting Soul Shepherding.

Thankfully, our Good Shepherd doesn’t hold our leadership failures and flaws over our heads. Instead, he leads us down right paths to find rest for our souls (Psalm 23:3) and brings purified and powerful seasons of Spirit-filled ministry out of us!

I pray that you will know Jesus’ loving care as he forms you into his image and builds his kingdom through you.

With love,

(Our book, Journey of the Soul: A Practical Guide to Emotional and Spiritual Healthhelps all types of leaders discover health in their spiritual, emotional, and relational lives)