After getting involved in a difficult church leadership situation at a relatively young age, I would have had some serious answers to the questions we asked in the last post. At the age of 28, I went through eight months of clinical depression and did not feel I had helpful support from friends at the time.
Many of my old friends would have told me I needed to start having a “quiet time” again – that evangelical touchstone of a daily routine that you do to make God like you, a checkbox of spiritual things to do such as Bible reading and prayer. My spiritual formation was clearly lacking, but things started to turn around after a powerful two-year retreat process that I was invited into. I began to relearn what it meant to have an interactive relationship with God. My depression had also gradually pushed me in new directions of emotional formation. My need to heal and apply grace to my life expanded my understanding of and the amount of energy I put into my relational formation.
Reconnecting with God and learning what it meant to keep God always on my mind began to feed into my mental formation. Taking care of my body in terms of nutrition, exercise, proper sleep, and managing stress was a new journey into physical formation. And as I took the time to share my story with others, I realized what an encouragement it could be to their lives. The gospel I had been living in my “born again” days didn’t seem like very good news any more. I had now learned about a gospel based on something called “grace” that truly is what Phillip Yancey calls “the last best word.” I was learning that I didn’t have to wait to get to heaven to live the good life. Heaven, at least when Jesus spoke of it, was something that begins right now. Living in God’s kingdom, or the kingdom of the heavens, is present as well as future. What a concept! Thus began my life-long journey into missional formation. And what an exciting mission it is.
I encourage you to think deeply about your own formation. Because we all have a formation – it’s just a matter of which one. And to think of these various areas or dimensions like gauges on the dashboard of your life. What aspects of your own formation have been the greatest struggle (spiritual, emotional, relational, mental, physical, missional)? In what areas do you have little or no support? What are some small ways in which you can begin to strengthen the areas of your formation in which you’re weak? How do you think that will impact your holistic formation, and your life as a whole?
This entry is the final part of a four-part series by guest blogger Michael G. Bischof of SOULeader Resources.
© 2015 Michael G. Bischof, SOULeader Resources. Used by permission. Dr. Michael G. Bischof (M.Div., D.Min.) is Founder and President of SOULeader Resources, an inter-denominational ministry established in 2000 to empower transformational wholeness in leaders, churches, denominations, and organizations. He is also Adjunct Assistant Professor of Spirituality at Fuller Theological Seminary and Azusa Pacific Seminary.
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