Growing Through Disappointments in Life & Ministry : Mindy Caliguire
Jason Daye | Blog, Care for Pastors, Christian, Church Leaders, FrontStage BackStage, Leadership, Mental Health, Pastors, Podcast, Sabbatical, Soul Care
How can we address the inevitable disappointments and discouragements in both life and ministry in a way that is healthy for our souls? In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by Mindy Caliguire. Mindy is the co-founder, along with her husband Jeff, of Soul Care, a spiritual formation ministry that exists to increase soul health in the body of Christ. Mindy has also served in a variety of senior leadership positions in various ministry organizations. And she and her husband Jeff were church planters in Boston. Together, Mindy and Jason look at some of the unhealthy tendencies we have as ministry leaders when it comes to dealing with disappointments and discouragement. Mindy then shares from her own experiences, ways to process disappointment that honors God and helps us grow in our own spiritual journeys.
Looking to dig more deeply into this topic and conversation? Every week we go the extra mile and create a free toolkit so you and your ministry team can dive deeper into the topic that is discussed. Find your Weekly Toolkit below… Love well, Live well, Lead well!
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- Additional resource links from this week’s conversation – so you and your team can easily find what is mentioned or referenced
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Additional Resource Links
Live from the Overflow – The Wellbeing of Your Soul Matters. Aligning this spiritual reality with how we actually live is the essential work.
Soul Care Collective – An Online Community for Living and Leading from Soul Health
Soul Care @ Whisper Ranch – Whisper Ranch privately offers world-class yet deeply meaningful spaces where leaders can be, belong, become, and bless.
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Feeling overwhelmed, burned out, or just want to talk? Complimentary Coaching Session for Pastors http://PastorServe.org/freesession
Ministry Leaders Growth Guide
Key Insights and Concepts
- Soul care is crucial, especially for pastors and ministry leaders.
- Soul care doesn’t have to remain vague. We can take practical steps to take care of our souls right now.
- Disappointment is a normal and consistent part of ministry. It’s better to not push it down, but to be honest about our emotions.
- Feeling the full range of human emotions is normal and none of them mean that God is not powerful or good.
- We need to give ourselves permission to say when something is hard.
- Ignoring pain and disappointment can cause it to have control over us, rather than processing it and surrendering it to God.
- God wants to walk with us through our pain and disappointment so we can heal and grow in faith, trust and wisdom.
- It’s important to incorporate soul care into our daily lives consistently and before we encounter our breaking point.
- Writing our thoughts helps us to self-reflect and examine our alignment with the truth of God’s word and then journey with Him to process and heal.
- We as ministry leaders need a relationship that is a safe place for us to communicate and process areas of failure, disappointment or pain.
- We need a plan to be intentional about guarding our families, marriages and other relationships and taking care of the well-being of our souls daily.
- Connecting with God needs to be part of our daily rhythm and will look different in different seasons of our lives.
Questions for Reflection
- Looking back on my personal soul care history, would I say it has been healthy or in need of work? What are some healthy ways I’ve cared for my soul?
- What “brick walls” have I hit in the past and how did I react to them? Would I change anything about my reactions?
- When was a time that God journeyed with me through pain and disappointment and I was able to process it in a healthy way? How can this experience help me navigate future situations of pain and disappointment? How can I encourage others with this story?
- Have I tried journaling? How would writing my “page” improve my soul care? If I have journaled in the past, how has it helped me?
- Who is my current “safe place”? Is there another person or ministry I can engage in relationship with as another “safe place”? If I don’t have someone yet, do I know where to find one? (Pastors and ministry leaders can receive a complimentary session with a trusted ministry coach, learn more at http://PastorServe.org/freesession)
- What is my plan to connect with God daily? How does it differ from what I’m currently doing?
- How will I guard my interior life? Are there changes I need to make to improve in this area? What might those changes be?
- What steps will I take to specifically guard my family, my marriage, and other important relationships?
- Am I willing to radically rearrange my life for the well-being of my soul? What would that look like in my life? How can I trust God to take care of everything else as I work toward implementing practical soul care?
- What was my first impression of “soul care”? Would I define it differently now than I used to?
- What resources am I currently using for personal soul care? Are there any others I feel would be helpful in my current stage of ministry or leadership?
How can we address the inevitable disappointments and discouragements in both life and ministry in a way that is healthy for our souls?
In this episode, I’m joined by Mindy Caliguire. Mindy is the co-founder, along with her husband Jeff, of Soul Care, a spiritual formation ministry that exists to increase soul health in the body of Christ. Mindy has also served in a variety of senior leadership positions in various ministry organizations. And she and her husband, Jeff, were church planters in Boston. Together, Mindy and I look at some of the unhealthy tendencies we have as ministry leaders when it comes to dealing with disappointments and discouragement. Mindy then shares from her own experiences, ways to process disappointment that honors God and helps us grow in our own spiritual journeys. Are you ready? Let’s go.
Hello Friends, good to see you. Good to have you along with us today, we would like to welcome you to another fantastic episode of FrontStage BackStage, I’m your host Jason Daye. And every single week, I have the distinct privilege of sitting down with a trusted ministry leader, and diving into a conversation, all in an effort to help you and pastors and ministry leaders just like you embrace a healthy, sustainable rhythm for both life and ministry. And we’re super excited about today’s conversation. We are a part of the Pastor Serve Network. And with each of these episodes, we create an entire toolkit for you and the ministry team at your local church to really go deeper into the topic that we discussed. And you can find that at PastorServe.org/network. And there you’ll find many resources, including a Ministry Leader’s Growth Guide, which includes some key insights, and then questions for reflection, again, that you can work through on your own or with your ministry team, to help develop your leaders in your local church. So you can find that at PastorServe.org/network. And then at Pastor Serve, we love to bless pastors, and we love to walk and journey with you. And so our trusty coaches are offering a free, complimentary coaching session, and you can find more information about that at PastorServe.org/freesession. So be sure to check that out and avail yourself of that opportunity. Now, if you’re joining us on YouTube, again, it’s good to have you along with us, give us a thumbs up and in the comments below, please drop your name and the name of your church. We love to get to know our audience better and our team will be praying for you and for your ministry. And whether you’re joining us on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform, please be sure to subscribe to follow to hit the notification bell. We do not want you missing out on any of these great conversations. And as I said, I’m excited about today’s conversation. At this time, I would like to welcome Mindy Caliguire to FrontStage BackStage, Mindy, welcome!
I am glad to be with you.
I am excited for our time together today; I’m excited for our audience to have an opportunity to kind of listen into a conversation that you and I are going to be having. Because you, Mindy, have such a heart for those in ministry, having served in pastoral ministry yourself for many years. And so real quick, before we dive into our topic, I remember you had mentioned to me that you acquired the domain name soulcare.com. How long? It was like forever ago, when was it?
It was forever. I think it was before the internet. It was in 1998. I’ve had the domain of soulcare.com since then, and yeah, it’s been fun. You should see, I recently had to do a thing where you can do a time tracker of what the website looked like throughout that history and took screenshots of all the different versions of it. Imagine how many different versions of that there has been since 1998. So it’s kind of fun. I had very smart friends who were very forward thinking and they were like, You should register that domain name. And I said, “What’s that?” They said, “You need to get the URL!”. I said, “Come again? Like what’s a URL, I have no idea.” And yeah, that’s all it was kind of at the dawn really dawn of the internet.
Yes. And what I love about that, Mindy, is that that kind of gives a snapshot for everyone else who may not know you into your, your long term heart for the care of people’s souls. You’ve been thinking about this for a long time. You’ve been engaged in this for a long time. And so that’s awesome. Because as you and I both know, and the work that we do, soul care, especially for pastors and ministry leaders, is crucial. I mean, it’s not that it hasn’t always been crucial. It’s just we’re recognizing it, right, a little bit more?
Yes, yes. Yeah. I you know, had the I thought of it as like A Severe Mercy, if you know that book by Sheldon Vanauken, it’s a beautiful book. Fabulous title. And, you know, I think my season of my soul completely imploding in the mid 90s was a severe mercy. I was in the middle of church planting. My husband and I were together in Boston, and I just was, I was, I imploded, and I had neurological symptoms. I couldn’t function anymore. Like it was bad. And in the end, learning how to care for my soul was absolutely sort of what brought me out of that season. Learning that I had to care for my soul. Like, that wasn’t even a category I or anyone was thinking about, or at least other than like, really smart people, but I wasn’t one of them. I wasn’t! And yet, the healthier I got God just kept giving me opportunities to create resources or journaling guides or all these different things to help others sort of elevate that priority in their own life and then have some practical ways to care for their soul. And my vocational journey has led me in lots of different places since then. But, always, soul care has been the underlying theme of the whole thing. So, anyway, yeah, it’s been a long, it’s been a long… But now I tell people, it’s a 27 year old startup.
There you go. Exactly. Exactly. You know, it’s funny. Right. Right. It’s funny, whatever you said, you know, from your own experience, where, you know, you kind of realize, hey, caring for my soul is an important thing. And, and it’s true, because oftentimes, you know, I look back, reflect back on my early years in ministry, and you think when you think of the term soul care, you often thought of either monks or spiritual directors, you know, prayer labyrinths, or some pilgrimage, you know, to a monastery in Ireland. Like that was like, what you thought of soul care was seems so like ‘somewhere out there’, and people who are really quiet and contemplative are the one and I would, have never been quiet in my life. Right? So yeah, so I was like, ah, but but it’s so true that this idea of soul care is so vitally important for all of us. And the conversation that we really want to dive into today, Mindy, as we’ve talked a bit is around this idea of, of disappointment. When disappointment, and that can lead to obviously discouragement, comes in our lives as pastors and ministry leaders. And Mindy, I just want to toss this out, because just like you were saying, you and your husband, you know, dove into church planting. You know, many of us, we dive into our first ministry assignment, you know, we come out of Bible college, or seminary or whatever it might be. We’re on fire, we are going to literally win the entire world for Jesus, right? Because we were called into this. And so we so we dive into that thinking, hey, if we’re obedient, right, we’re obedient to God, then things will, things will come together, right? So talk to me a little bit, Mindy, about when reality… Yeah, no, no, I, I think everyone watching or listening is all chuckling along as well. Because reality hits at some point. Yeah. So talk to us a little bit, Mindy, about kind of that initial mindset as we enter into ministry, and the reality of wow, you know?
I think we’ve done ourselves a disservice, right? In many in many of our, like, training pathways and things like that, four steps to this and six steps to that, and 12 rules of the always that. And we we haven’t really created an imagination for mystery, for when things go wrong. We seem intent on preventing pain and ensuring success. And there’s a bit of a narrative that’s down a layer or two below that, that we haven’t really been exploring as much as perhaps we might. And so as a result of that, I think, a ton of people, we just get hit upside the head with brokenness. With, as you said, disappointment. And in our case, I remember talking to my brother in law, at one point, it’s like, I think, a fair amount of disappointment I could shoulder relatively well, right? Like, you know, you’re not a Pollyanna person. You understand there’s sin and brokenness in the world. And so you go into ministry, but then it’s like, whoa, what does chronic disappointment look like? What does it look like when you set your sights on the next thing, and then that falls apart, and then the next thing and then that falls apart, and then you still don’t have the resources needed to do the thing you’ve tried to do the last time? And, I mean, it just is the, the chronic nature of what we encountered is the disappointment that’s outside. And then there’s the disappointment with like yourself, or a loved one or your spouse, or your team. It’s not just like, out there, like, oh, people didn’t show up to our evangelism event. It’s like, Oh, I lost it again, in this team setting, and there’s just… everywhere you turn, there’s all this disappointment. And that, I think, is hard for us to sort of let in or even stomach. Like we just, even a response to trauma and learning is that you know, you just want to ignore it and keep on going and ignore the next thing that goes wrong and keep on going and ignore the next thing that goes wrong. And we just power through thinking that that’s the more faithful or faith-filled approach. And certainly faith has a part in our ‘how do we pick up the pieces dust ourselves off under God’s hand and keep moving’ but there’s a lot of ways that we do that, that are very actually unhealthy and kind of breed, increased toxicity. Yeah, that was the case for me.
Yeah. One of the things Mindy, I think that we wrestle with, and you touched on this, is we are we’re doing this for the kingdom, right? We’re in, we’re pastoring or ministering. People are looking at us as spiritual leaders in their lives, right? Like, how crazy is that? I look back to like, you know, when I was young in ministry, why was anyone looking to me as being spiritual? Like, there was a lot of grace. Exactly, yeah, there was a lot of grace from from God, and a lot of grace from the people God entrusted to me, because, you know, I’m still trying to figure everything out, right. And I don’t think I will, in this lifetime. But we feel that, we shoulder this idea that, that we are serving the kingdom. We are in this, have been called into this position. We’re trying to do our absolute best. And so when, when disappointment does come, oftentimes, we feel like we have to kind of push that down below the surface. Because we have to, you know, hold the hope, you know, the banner of hope, high for people who are counting on us. And that can be damaging, in some ways. So, Mindy, talk to us a little bit about, about that tendency we have in ministry, as leaders, to kind of push down disappointment, discouragement, and in how we should navigate that, kind of, in healthy ways.
Yeah, I think we do tend to think that somehow we’re sort of defending the viability of God himself by showing that everything is up and to the right all the time. And we quote, certain beloved Bible verses that ‘I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me’, and ‘there is no fear and love and perfect love’. I mean, we just start quoting all the things and sort of talk ourselves out of whatever our actual emotional reality is. Which, as you said, is damaging. And I think the other layer to the damage isn’t just the talking ourselves out of it for performance, like I have to perform well, so that other people might trust God. And even if I’m having a hard time doing that, I certainly can’t besmirch their ability to trust God by revealing that I’m struggling, right? Like, that’s kind of the math, I think that happens in our heads. But on top of it is this shame, right? It’s like, I don’t know how this is gonna work out or I don’t know the right next step, or, I’m afraid. And there’s some sort of like, shame around that. That if I give voice to that I’m somehow less than as a leader, as a follower, as a believer. And like, we just like it’s just a pile on situation that almost it is very rare for people to come out of, sort of minus some sort of crash, because it won’t ultimately hold up. And I hope more and more people, that’s kind of what you’re asking is like, how how could we not have it require a crash before we move forward, right? And one of the biggest hopes I have is through your ministry, through ours, there’s so many others like ours. How could we start to normalize the full range of human emotions that happened in the context of following Jesus? And none of them are an indictment that the Kingdom isn’t real, or God isn’t powerful or good? Like none of them are those things. They just are the full range of human experience. And how do we help people metabolize that? When a hard thing happens, what is the healthy way to, you know, let it in. First of all, let it land. Oh, gosh, this is really hard right now. Like in a page of a journal, or with a trusted friend, or spiritual director, or coach or someone. But oftentimes pastors lose those safe places, right? They they become everybody else’s safe place. And they don’t have a place to, to say that. So sometimes it has to start in a journal like, this is what’s hard for me today, I’m afraid. I used to… This is embarrassing to admit, Jason. But, prior to my crash, I kept a journal from the time I was in college and stuff like that. And it was more than like a Dear Diary, it was usually like, Hey, God, this is what’s going on in my life. But I very, very, very specifically remember writing at one point, like I’m afraid of whatever, okay? And watch this. I crossed it out and started writing Bible verses. Well, there is no fear in love fear. I mean, I literally talk myself out of an actual emotion like, that’s crazy. That’s crazy. Like that’s like, even my journal wasn’t a safe place because I wasn’t safe. I did not know how to give voice to that stuff. And just let it be there, let it let it be. Okay, like, here’s this thing that just happened, here’s what it actually is. Write it down. Look at it. Then it becomes fodder for my relationship and interaction with God rather than something I’m denying and pushing down. Ideally, then it becomes something I can even bring into relationship and a trusted friendship or whatever. So anyway, I would say like, one of the most important things is, first of all, just give ourselves permission to say, this is hard. This is what I’m struggling with. This is the this is the pattern I see myself returning to again, and again, and I’m discouraged about it. This is the disappointment I have with this team member who just keeps, you know, saying one thing and doing another or whatever the thing is, for us to, to notice it, to name it, to give voice to it. Often, that can be helpful in and of itself. Because it kind of like, if you don’t do that, it’s like this little bomb that’s ready to go, you know, explode. And then it’s going to explode somewhere where you definitely don’t want it to explode. And so how do you? How do you? What do they call it? When you take a bomb apart? And you like..
Yes. Thank you. It was like there’s a word. There’s the thing. So writing things down actually is a way of beginning that process of diffusing it. It has less power over you when you look at it. And you’re like, oh, that’s that’s the thing right there. That’s, that’s what it is. I’m not indicting God. I’m not saying anything about the entirety of my entire future. This is just the thing on this day, this is what this feels like. That can then begin more metabolizing of it and the beauty of when we metabolize pain. I love Jim Wilder is an author that I love. You’re probably familiar with this stuff, because you were out here in Colorado as well. He spent most of his career in California. He talks about how when we metabolize pain, it turns into wisdom. Isn’t that just beautiful?
That’s awesome, yeah, that is huge.
But if we ignore it, we almost surrender ourselves, yield ourselves to being controlled by it individually.
That’s huge. That’s huge. No, no, no. And you know, it’s interesting, I appreciate you give us a peek into your journal, by the way, thank you for, for sharing that story. Because I think what what is so true, is that we we tend to quickly move to the fix, right? And so we never get to that point of metabolizing the pain. And it’s so crazy, maybe because we think about what… I mean, if we read the Psalms there’s a lot of this going on. Like David and the other psalmists were really good at putting words to the pain they were feeling. And somehow we feel like we can’t. And so we lose out on that wisdom, you know, from that and owning the times of disappointment and suffering, and, and struggle, instead of journeying with God in it. And when you when you’re telling about your journal, and you scratched it out. When you scratched it out and started writing Bible verses, it’s almost like I just, in my mind, envisioned God the Father going, Oh, no, no, no, wait, Mindy, I want to I want to be a part of this. You know, I want to walk with you through this, right? And that’s what I think that’s how God is reaching out to us, you know? But if we just scribble it out, and throw some Bible verses at it, or some pat Christian answers, then we never have the opportunity to, to relate to God, God can’t come to us in the depths of those challenges, right?
Totally true, in hindsight, and, you know, many years later, when I was reflecting on all this stuff, and learning more about how God meets us in pain and how transformation and growth actually happens, I realized I was, in effect.. You know, the the football statute of Heisman guy, you know, who’s giving a stiff arm to whoever is defending? And it’s like, that’s my image, my mental image of who I was in those moments is I have got a arm in God’s face going, stay away! I got this. And I feel exactly what you just said, that wasn’t the heart of God, like, wanting to meet me in my fear? Wanting to meet me in my pain. Wanting to bring healing, and yet I am like, slamming that door shut so hard, thinking I’m doing the right thing. So sad.
Yeah and I think that’s true. I know there are times in my life and ministry I’ve done the same thing in different ways. I don’t ever remember scratching anything out in my journal like that, but the same thing you know, like you just you pass it over in you’re like, Okay, no, I’ve got this. You know, ministry, you have to be sacrificial. So I’m going to be sacrificial right now. Like you just put this in your mind and just, yeah, talk yourself into it, push through and never rest in the love of God. And that’s that’s the key so, Mindy, talk to us a little bit about how do we… So this idea of soul care. It’s like many things in life. If you wait until you, you know, slam into the brick wall, you might be a little late to the game. Right? So how do we begin to incorporate healthy soul care into our lives, in our ministries before we get to those places where, you know, the bomb is about to explode, right?
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it’s always the better question. And it’s like, leaders, smart people start to go, Okay, I see that cliff, like maybe, I don’t want to go learn all the lessons at the bottom of the cliff. Could you please help me not get to the cliff? And one of the ways we’ve been doing that lately, through our team at Soul Care is really coming up with this like framework for people. Like, okay, what’s a simple way to think about safeguarding your soul? Like, what could you put into motion today, no matter where you are, and what you’re doing? Doesn’t have a price tag on it. You can do this. And it involves these three things. It’s a page, a person and a plan. What is the invitation to reflection? That’s the sort of metaphor around “Page”. Page of a journal, page of whatever, and there is actually neuroscience around the benefit of writing. So I do recommend that. But every one of us needs a way, an invitation, to self reflection, what is really banging on in my head, even if it’s something terrible, you just have to put it out there so you can examine it and say, ‘God, this is what looks reasonable to me right now. And your word says it’s not. But we got to have a conversation about it, because this is what’s really going on in my head.’ Anyway, invitation to a page is self reflection. But the second one is a person. And we’ve sort of touched on that. Like a big part of God’s Plan A of how we heal, how we grow, how we transform, is in the context of relationship. And again, that’s one of the most tragic parts of modern expressions of ministry leadership is that the higher you go in an organization, the less safe places there are for you. And so that’s why your ministry, I mean, exists in so many ways is how do you come alongside leaders to create that safe place for them? We have teams of spiritual directors and coaches and other organizations have, like we’re, I think the body of Christ right now is kind of rallying with ways to come alongside leaders in significant ways that are safe. And without that, it could be a ministry peer, it’s somebody that works with a parachurch organization. But it’s got to be somebody that’s not your boss, or your supervisor, or in your hierarchy. And it needs to not be somebody you’re leading, right, or somebody in your family. It needs to be a really safe third space. So you need a page, you need a person, which is the invitation to connection. Which again, bazillion amounts of neuroscience around that that’s a very verifiable statistic. But truly, I keep getting blown away at the secular books that are talking about how the brain organizes around a future that it discerns in the context of relationship. There’s a lot of power there that isn’t just like, oh, I need to be understood, or I need to have meant my things. There’s actually powerful transactions almost happening at the neural pathway level that is rewiring who we are, and we need that. We all need it. So a page person. And then the third one is a plan, like what is it? How are we intentional about the different dimensions of… different dimensions of flourishing you could say, different dimensions of the soul. It’s all integrated. It’s not like just journaling. It’s journaling and walking, it’s being out in nature and eating well. And it’s having vacations and sabbatical if needed, and whatever they are. Like, what’s the organizing idea you have? What’s the vision you have for your life? That isn’t, as you said, you said a really interesting thing earlier about like, Oh, I’m just supposed to sacrifice. And yes, there is a part of us that we gladly say, I will pick up my cross. I will die daily. There is a way that we are yielding to God, over and over and over again. But I do not believe that one of the costs we’re supposed to count is an ever diminishing interior life. I just don’t think that’s what, Jesus, none of the disciples, nobody had that in mind when they were saying those things. And yet that’s often one of the first things to go when you start vocational ministry. So what is your plan to push against that? How will you guard your interior life? How will you guard your family, your marriage, your relationships? How will you prioritize those things in the midst of your work and your ministry and your calling, which of course, all matters, it’s all important. But if you don’t have a plan, it’s just not going to happen. So a page, a person, a plan is some of the things that we’ve been building some experiences and resources around to try to help people on this journey.
Yeah, I love that Mindy. And that so, that makes it less theoretical, right? A little more like tactile in the real world. When you think about it, you know, because it’s like, yeah, we need to think about soul care. Because there are going to be instances in our lives, in our ministries in our personal lives, front stage, and back stage, where, where something goes wrong. And you don’t want to be at a place when something goes wrong, where you aren’t in a healthy state where you can handle it. And people are like, Okay, but what does that really mean? So I love the page, the person and the plan, because that kind of that kind of gives us something to you know, framework, like you said, to kind of think through and process through and engage in, right?
It’s some simple, and we think really doable, patterns that you can build into your life. And it’s there, it’s flexible enough that you can find a variety of ways during your lifetime. It’s not always the same. What it means to care for your soul in one stage of life, say with young kids, is probably not the same as what it’s going to look like. We just had our third child just got married. And now that season is done. And it’s like, okay, what does ‘next’ look like and our rhythms. My husband’s and mine, and my personal will probably change yet again. But those those three things will endure. I will always require reflection, I will always require connection, and I will always require the intention. That is what comes with having a plan, but it will look different in all the different seasons. If soul care as an idea stays too vague, mystical, obtuse, then nobody knows how to put handles on it, they can’t grab it and pull it into daily life. When in actuality, this is the most ordinary of things. The most ordinary of walking with God in the midst of daily life and structuring our lives around the well being of the soul. And it’s… there’s one author says, it doesn’t take any of your time, and it takes all your time. And it’s kind of good to think of it that way. This doesn’t need a six, you know, five year PhD program. You know, if you can do that, by all means do. But, connecting with God in real time is how we care for our souls. Only God breathes life into our souls. Learning how to attend to that connection in the midst of daily life. That is the challenge. And as you said, if you wait till the proverbial stuff hits the fan, it will not be an optimal time to try to learn new ways of attending to God’s presence in the midst of daily life. Because all of a sudden, everything’s blowing up and you’re just scrambling to survive. An interesting example happened. I’m gonna be writing about this in the next year I think, God willing. You know, some people know we had this vision of a ranch, we call it Whisper Ranch, that’s out here in Boulder and a place for leaders, for retreat, for gathering, for solitude, for connection for conversations. We have these four B’s, it’s a place for being, belonging, becoming, a blessing. It’s really exciting, lots of fun stuff. And a miraculous story of how it, how it came together. And now as we’ve said, I’m 27 years into this journey of arranging my life around the well-being of my soul, and not letting the well-being of my soul be a construct of my life. I try to let it be the other way around. And by and large, it has been by God’s grace. Last year, we had these massive fires that ripped through Boulder County and basically started down the hill from our property. And tremendous amount of damage was done in all of the county. 1100 homes were burned to the ground. The property was damaged everything that could burn on it did. And it was the most destabilizing year I’ve had since the year I had the neurological symptoms. What I’m here to tell you is, when you built the rhythms and practices and relationships, for caring for your soul over a very long period of time. Not that there weren’t crises along the way. And trust me, there have been. Family, financial, work, all the things. But this one was this one was harder than any of the others for me. It’s enough. God holds you. It’s not the right time when when life gets pulled out from under you, as it will. You don’t know when, you don’t know how. That’s not the right time to figure out how to spend some time in silence. Prayer. Silent prayer is hard to do and vital, I believe. But when everything neurologically is untilt and you have no safe place, and everything is just crazy, which happens, right? A relationship, of ministry, something falls apart, there’s a fire, there’s a catastrophe, there’s a crisis in your community, a child is sick, and you know, all the things that happen that destabilize our sense of okayness or even threaten that intimate, real time connection with God. Those are not optimal times to figure out how to let go of your ego how to rest in God’s care. Like those are those are good things to learn ahead of time. So I saw that this past year. Yeah, yeah.
Yeah, you know, it’s that whole idea that dealing with disappointment, discouragement, despair, you know, doesn’t take place in the midst of the destabilization. Right, the dealing part is done long before the destabilization comes. Right? That’s in our daily rhythms. That’s in our spending time with God. That’s in us getting to that healthy place of flourishing holistically in our lives, in allowing the Spirit to breathe into all aspects of our lives. So that when that fire comes down the hill, right, comes down the mountain, it doesn’t lessen the pain. Right? Which is okay, and God, God’s with us in the pain. But it helps us it helps us navigate that pain in a healthy way. In a way that brings healing to our hearts and our minds and to our families and our ministries. Right?
Well, yes. And in a way, it has been a really interesting, visual, very visual, physical metaphor for what we talk about with being burned out. Yeah, now I have multiple, strong mental images and 26 acres of an example of what it means to burn out. And there are some, I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you this one story. There’s one little grove of trees that had you know, tons of these beautiful ponderosa pines. And it was behind one of the few structures that had been built on the land. And so that structure provided fuel that in the 70 to 100 mile per hour winds caused it to keep burning there longer than it burned, you know, most of the places. It burned a bit and then kept moving, burned a bit, kept moving. But it stayed and burned on the dream shed is what we call it. So our dreams were literally up in smoke. And as a result, there’s a grove of trees, downwind of that former shed, that are charred beyond any, but they’re still standing. And at first our impulse was oh, let’s cut them down and whatever and then I was like, oh, it’s still habitat, birds can still perch in it. Like let’s just let’s just let it sit. And I’m so glad we didn’t cut it down. Because this, I call it now we call it the garden of desolation. There’s this little area that you can sit and reflect and everywhere you look is complete destruction, complete death. Complete…. and beauty. If I could show you a picture, maybe they can send it to you later. But there’s, there’s almost like an aching beauty to some of these trees. That, I I’m not a botanist, but I my gut is they are never gonna, they’re not… You don’t look at it and go, Oh, maybe next year, we’ll have a few new… it’s gone. But the outline of it and this very charred core remains. And it has an aching beauty to it. And when we’ve brought leaders in to that little grove and talked about, what does it mean to have a garden of desolation where we actually pause and we let in the pain, the devastation, the sadness, the things that are truly burned out, and will never, will never be back. I’ve stopped counting how many leaders have walked into that space. And as we’ve just set that very small context, their eyes well up with tears. And what comes forward, if they give voice to it, is a recent death of ministry disappointment. Like we all have it, and to be in a physical space that just invites reflection on the things that are gone, and invites us into lament, into grief, into putting words around that. Yeah, so that’s our garden of desolation. I think those are needed. Yeah, those and so, I wouldn’t have planned it, wouldn’t have intended it. And I hope it’s true, that as our souls remained healthy in the midst of great pain and loss and disappointment, we were able to see possibilities. We were able to then bring others into these places.
I love that. I love that and that just speaks to the redemptive quality of God. You know, even the midst of the charred out, burned out, that God’s goodness prevails. And that’s, that’s the gift, right?
We don’t rush to the end of that story, like the goodness prevailing isn’t like, oh, it’s all springing back to life. The goodness that’s coming out of it is other people’s ability to enter into that sadness in their own version. Yeah, it’s interesting.
Yeah, that’s beautiful. Wow, Mindy, this has been a fantastic conversation. I so appreciate your heart, and appreciate you making the time to hang out with us today.
Just a couple things before we wrap up. One is I want to give you just some time, you’ve got the eyes and ears of brothers and sisters serving a ministry, just to speak some final words to them. And then we want to give you an opportunity to share a little bit of how people connect with you. So first of all, some words.
Guys, I guess I would just say, I’m from the northeast, so guys is gender neutral. I would just say, well, who can say it better than the writer of Proverbs, that above all else you would guard your heart. For from it, the interior life, whatever you want to call it, from it flows everything. And we have created the false construct where the back stage could be different than the front stage. And that’s a very disintegrated way of living. And we’re seeing the damages of it. And it’s not what God invites us into. It doesn’t have to be that way. So I would say, if you are in a place that you’re thinking, maybe my soul is not so great right now. I challenge people all the time, become willing to radically rearrange your life, if necessary. Radically rearrange around the well-being of your soul. And you’ve probably never even thought well, how would I do that? I don’t know the answer to that for you. But you are on a dangerous path until you become willing to do that. And God will, I believe, pull out every resource needed for you to have the help you need. Set that intention to live from a healthy soul. And God will take care of the rest. He will take care of your ministry influence, he will take care of your effectiveness. He’ll take care of your relationships. Not like by the end of the day. But all of those things are held in God. And your safest place is right in that safe place with Him. So rearrange, if needed. Yeah.
Love that. That’s a big challenge. And it’s something we have to stop and think about because ministry as we all know, ministry keeps us going. It keeps our mind going, it keeps our heart going, it keeps our bodies physically going. Like we have to pull back. And we have to like you said, a radical rearrange. I mean, if that’s that’s what we need, then that’s what you need to step into. It takes that intentionality that you spoke of earlier. I love that. How, Mindy, if people want to connect with with you, with your ministry? What’s the best way for them to do that?
Yeah, soulcare.com. Join our mailing list, you’ll be aware of what we’ve got going on. We also have an online community, we call The Collective, and if you go to collective.soulcare.com and you can also just find it on our website. We’re trying to create some digital spaces where people can meet one another ministry peers, different kinds of groups. We’re in the middle of a lent group right now, that has had daily input and all kinds of beautiful stuff. Groups and things like that they’re happening for Lent. And so we’ll do that with seasonal things throughout the year and different practices that we engage in. It’s sort of like a practicing community and a community of practice. We kind of like thinking about it both ways. So that’s The Collective that’s always available. When we do online courses and things like that, that have spiritual direction embedded into it, they are often hosted in The Collective. Yeah, so those are, we have a couple, I have a couple of books, resources, that if you’re really, really new to this, and you want to just do a like, Hey, what is discovering soul care. It’s meant to be done, you know, either as an individual or with a group. These have been used in small groups and churches and Spiritual Friendship, there’s a couple of different resources that might, might be helpful to people. And yeah, a lot of what we do on the ranch, if that’s helpful to people is, I think more and more, we’re finding that folks need to get away for a day of solitude, for a weekend of solitude, for a sabbatical of some kind. And so we’re doing more and more to support sabbaticals and so that, you can find that on the website as well. And so Whisper Ranch is one of the resources that we love having leaders out and helping provide a structured… I just got an email today from a leader. You know, this is us, right? He’s like I, it’s not urgent, but I don’t think I’m doing well. And I think I need help thinking about how to pull away with some intentional soul care. You know, and I haven’t rewritten, haven’t written back the email that but what’s going on in my head is like, yes, that is urgent. This is urgent. And let’s, let’s figure out how to help you. Anyway, so yeah, we love working with leaders as they start attending to and tending to their soul. Whether it’s coaching, spiritual direction, resources, space, physical space, digital spaces, all of it. I believe we’re at a very significant inflection point in the body of Christ, where unhealthy leadership is not going to be tolerated any longer and I think it’s a very good thing. And I, and you guys, other great ministries, we’re all excited to support what I believe is going to be a seed change. And we are we’re just not going to, we’re not going to have the next 50 years look like the last 50.
Yeah, yeah. We sense that as well. That’s awesome, Mindy, thank you so much. And for all of you who are watching along or listening along, I will have links all the links that Mindy shared in the toolkit for this episode. You can find that PastorServe.org/network along with resources, links to her books, all that great stuff. So if you want to find all of that you can go to PastorServe.org/network, and check out the toolkit for this conversation, so it’s awesome. Mindy, such a joy to hang out with you again, and to have you here with us making the time to pour your heart out into brothers and sisters who are serving the kingdom. So thank you for all you do for the Kingdom. We certainly appreciate it.
Likewise, right back at you and thank you to all of you guys. If you’ve become a little weary in doing good, you’re not violating scripture. You just need a little rest.
Amen. That’s the truth. That’ll preach! Good stuff, Mindy.
Thank you, everybody.
God bless you.
Now, before you go, I want to remind you of an incredible free resource that our team puts together every single week to help you and your team dig more deeply and maximize the conversation that we just had. This is the weekly toolkit that we provide. And we understand that it’s one thing to listen or watch an episode, but it’s something entirely different to actually take what you’ve heard, what you’ve watched, what you’ve seen, and apply it to your life and to your ministry. You see, FrontStage BackStage is more than just a podcast or YouTube show about ministry leadership, we are a complete resource to help train you and your entire ministry team as you seek to grow and develop in life in ministry. Every single week, we provide a weekly toolkit which has all types of tools in it to help you do just that. Now you can find this at PastorServe.org/network. That’s PastorServe.org/network. And there you will find all of our shows, all of our episodes and all of our weekly toolkits. Now inside the toolkit are several tools including video links and audio links for you to share with your team. There are resource links to different resources and tools that were mentioned in the conversation, and several other tools, but the greatest thing is the ministry leaders growth guide. Our team pulls key insights and concepts from every conversation with our amazing guests. And then we also create engaging questions for you and your team to consider and process, providing space for you to reflect on how that episode’s topic relates to your unique context, at your local church, in your ministry and in your life. Now you can use these questions in your regular staff meetings to guide your conversation as you invest in the growth of your ministry leaders. You can find the weekly toolkit at PastorServe.org/network We encourage you to check out that free resource. Until next time, I’m Jason Daye encouraging you to love well, live well, and lead well. God bless.
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