Soul Care

Dear Church Family,

Wanted you to know that as you give to CHS, the tithe we give to Christ Our Hope Diocese includes an amount that is invested in the spiritual care of our clergy. One statistic often cited states that 80% of clergy who enter ministry do not finish in ministry. Burnout is a very real concern.

The article below was written by Bishop Thad Barnum who heads up the Clergy Care for our Diocese. It was written for clergy, but as your pastor, I know that many of you would also benefit from these words of truth about living a grace-driven vs. performance-driven life.



Soul Care

Is that you, dear Christian friend – performance driven?

It’s not our gospel, is it? We know we are saved by grace — the gift of God — “not as a result of works” (Eph 2:8-9) We say: His grace is sufficient; His “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9); and, apart from Him we “can do nothing” (Jn 15:6).

It makes for a great sermon.

But there’s another sermon ringing in our ears.

It declares: We can. We can do all things. We can do all things through the power, wisdom, and ability that’s inside us. We are the “Little Engine that Could.” No mountain too high. No enemy too big. No battle too strong. We say: “I think I can, I think I can” and we can. Nothing is impossible for us. Hard work. Determination. Perseverance. We are people of power. We make ourselves. We save ourselves.

It’s the devil’s taunting sermon since the day we left Eden.

It’s not until we find ourselves at the end of ourselves and say what we never thought we’d ever say – “I can’t” that life with God begins. When life is too big; the devil too strong; our sin, guilt, and shame too real; we cry that ancient cry for a Savior: “O our God…We are powerless…We do not know what to do…our eyes are on you” (2 Chron 20:12).

This is where new life in Christ begins. We confess: “We can’t. Apart from Him we can do nothing.”

Do you still believe that?

Or do you have the devil’s sermon too deeply rooted in your soul? We were shaped by it. We got our approval needs met by performance. Our identity in this world — who we are — is based on what we do, what we’ve accomplished. Our name, our reputation, is defined by our education, wealth, advancements at work, successes in life. We are – in this fallen world — performance-driven.

Who is it that can say: “Not me. That’s not my sermon anymore. My identity is found in ‘the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord’” (Phil 3:8)? Is that you? Is He everything to you? Or are you finding yourself caught between two worlds: the grace-driven life which gives Him all the praise or the performance-driven life where we’re still trying to get the praise?

It’s hard – especially for pastors and saints in ministry. Performance today is everything. Success is defined by numbers (how many come?) and finance (how big the budget?). It’s no longer defined by obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is where soul care begins.

We get our eyes back on Jesus. We start at the beginning of the gospel: Not what we do for Christ but who we are in Christ. We all need it – a safe place to go where grace can infuse our soul once again.

Bishop Thaddeus Barnum
Championing Soul Care for the Diocese of the Carolinas