The Lost Art of Soul Tending

There’s a story about a monk working at a monastery who didn’t like the abbott.  He wrote a letter to another monk and confessed that he was doubting whether or not God had called him to be a monk.  The other monk wrote back, “You know that you were called if your soul is growing through the trials that God sends you.”  The monk wrote again a few months later, frustrated, asking if he were still called.  The first wrote back saying, “You know you are called to go if it is damaging your soul.”

And therein lies the long lost element of true calling.  Who pays attention to the development of the soul anymore?  Do the job placement offices in seminaries take time to talk to people about the growth and development of their souls, or do they talk about resumes and references?  Would the average pastor have any sense at all of how to measure if his or her soul was growing or decaying?  My sense is that that is a meaningful vocabulary that has been wholly lost.

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3 thoughts on “The Lost Art of Soul Tending

  1. Soul care has not historically been the forte of protestants and subsequently, evangelicals (to put it mildly).

    It probably got thrown out with the Catholic/monasitic “bathwater” during the Reformation.

  2. Yeah, I realized when I read your post about grading church I had no idea what kind of measures one would use for how ministries affected individual churchgoers – apart from their participation in church or social welfare activities, how are church goers better off? How does the wellbeing of one’s soul differ from those other kinds of wellbeing that he can have?

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