How Do Memories Relate to Spiritual Formation? : Casey Tygrett
How do our memories, whether good or bad, relate to our spiritual formation? In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by Casey Tygrett. Casey oversees the spiritual direction practice at Soul Care and has written a number of books, including his latest, The Practice of Remembering. Together, Casey and Jason explore how our memories are inextricably tied to our lives with God. Casey also shares how we, as pastors and ministry leaders, can process through our painful and even traumatic memories in healthy ways and help others do the same.
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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- Audio links to this week’s episode – easily share with the ministry leaders in your church
- Additional resource links from this week’s conversation – so you and your team can easily find what is mentioned or referenced
- Ministry Leaders Growth Guide – key insights and concepts from this week’s conversation as well as engaging questions for you and your team to consider and process
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Additional Resource Links
www.caseytygrett.com – Visit Casey’s website to explore a wealth of valuable resources, including his book, podcast, blog, and other content tailored to enrich and support you on your spiritual journey.
The Practice of Remembering: Uncovering the Place of Memories in Our Spiritual Life – Previously titled As I Recall, Casey Tygrett’s writing in The Practice of Remembering explores the power of memory and offers biblical texts and practices to guide us in bringing our memories to God for spiritual transformation.
www.soulcare.com – At Soul Care, we desire to change the narrative about deep, unintentional soul neglect. We’ve been there, and have found a new way of life and leadership. You can too. We provide services, experiences, relationships, and tools for your journey towards Soul Health.
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Ministry Leaders Growth Guide
Key Insights and Concepts
- The memories that drive us, especially in pastoral roles, shape our sense of calling and purpose. Reflecting on pivotal moments, like the initial call to ministry, can be a source of inspiration and motivation throughout our journey.
- The power of memory in shaping our perception of God is profound; the way we first encounter and understand God influences our spiritual growth and formation. It underscores the importance of intentional reflection on our early experiences with faith.
- Critically evaluating our memories and the stories they form is essential for spiritual transformation.
- The ability to reassess and change the core narratives that guide our actions is a fundamental aspect of growth and maturity in pastoral leadership.
- The stories we carry from our early experiences in ministry often become the scripts that guide our actions. Recognizing and critiquing these scripts, especially in response to criticism, can lead to transformative insights and growth.
- Repentance, understood as a change of mind about our core stories, requires a deliberate effort to challenge and reshape our understanding of God, self, and others.
- Engaging with critics can be a valuable opportunity for self-reflection. Criticism, when approached with openness and humility, can reveal aspects of our stories and beliefs that may need reconsideration and refinement.
- Diversity in stories enriches our perspectives and challenges our assumptions. Actively seeking out and listening to individuals with different narratives can broaden our understanding of ministry, fostering growth and adaptability.
- The impact of trauma on our memories and stories is significant. Recognizing and addressing trauma, both personally and within the community, is vital for spiritual leaders to provide healing and support.
- Spiritual directors, as non-anxious spaces, can assist in navigating the complexities of trauma and triggering memories. Seeking guidance from supportive individuals or communities is essential for processing and finding redemption in painful memories.
- Wisdom emerges from the moments we remember, whether failures or insights. Cultivating a mindset that values the transformative power of memories contributes to the ongoing growth and maturity of pastoral leaders.
- The gift of numerous metaphors in scripture related to God is a blessing. One’s biblical understanding of God based on these metaphors allows for flexibility in addressing triggering memories. Recognizing that different individuals may connect with diverse biblical metaphors provides freedom as the Spirit helps shape one’s relationship with the divine.
Questions for Reflection
- Can I vividly remember the moment I received my calling to pastoral ministry? If so, describe it.
- How does this memory of my calling continue to influence my sense of purpose and dedication?
- How did my earliest experiences of encountering God shape my current understanding of Him? In what ways has this perception developed over time?
- Are there memories, positive or challenging, from my past that significantly impact how I approach life, faith, and ministry today? How can I actively engage with and learn from these memories?
- When there are significant criticisms or challenges, how can I be sure to critically evaluate the core narratives that guide my actions and decisions in pastoral leadership? What have I learned from these criticisms and experiences?
- How am I intentionally creating unhurried spaces for self-reflection, allowing myself to pay attention to the deeper stories shaping my life and ministry? If this is not a regular practice for me, how can I do better at making the time?
- How do the stories from my early experiences in ministry function as scripts that guide my current leadership style and decision-making processes? Do any particular stories or experiences come to mind?
- Are there memories I’m carrying with me that need to be released to the healing power of God? If so, what are these memories? How will I engage with God over them?
- When needed, am I actively engaged in repentance as a change of mind about the core stories influencing my perception of God, self, and others?
- How can I more actively seek out and listen to individuals with different narratives? How can this diversity enrich my understanding of ministry and leadership?
- Have I taken intentional steps to recognize and address personal trauma? Communal trauma in my ministry community? How do I navigate triggering memories in a way that promotes healing and redemption?
- Do I have a relationship with a trusted person in a specific non-anxious space where I can navigate the complexities of trauma and triggering memories in ministry? If not, what can I do to have a relationship like that?
- How do I navigate metaphors in understanding God, especially when certain terms may be triggering for others? How can I foster a diverse and inclusive spiritual environment?
- Beyond changing actions, am I actively engaged in the transformative work of changing the core stories that guide my life, ministry, and interactions with others?
How do our memories, whether good or bad, relate to our spiritual formation?
In this episode, I’m joined by Casey Tygrett. Casey oversees the spiritual direction practice at Soul Care and has written a number of books, including his latest, The Practice of Remembering. Together, Casey and I explore how our memories are inextricably tied to our lives with God. Casey also shares how we, as pastors and ministry leaders, can process through our painful and even traumatic memories in healthy ways and help others do the same. Are you ready? Let’s go.
Hello, friends, and welcome to FrontStage BackStage. I’m your host, Jason Daye. I really believe that you and your ministry leaders at your local church are going to be blessed by our conversation today. Each and every week, I have the privilege of sitting down with a trusted ministry leader, and we dive into a topic all in an effort to help you and ministry leaders just like you embrace healthy, sustainable rhythms for both your life and ministry. We’re proud to be a part of the Pastor Serve Network. And not only do we have these conversations every week, but we also create an entire toolkit for you and the team at your local church to dig more deeply into the conversation. And within that toolkit, you’ll find a number of resources, including our Ministry Leaders Growth Guide which has questions that you can reflect on yourself personally, and then also encourage your ministry leaders, and you can discuss those questions together. So be sure to check that out at PastorServe.org/network. Now the team at Pastor Serve loves walking alongside pastors and ministry leaders so we are offering a complimentary coaching session. And if you’d like more information on that, you can learn more at PastorServe.org/freesession. So be sure to check that out as well. Now, if you’re joining us on YouTube, please give us a thumbs up and drop your name and the name of your church in the comments below. We love getting to know our audience better, and our team will be praying for you and for your ministry. Whether you’re joining us on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform, please be sure to subscribe, follow, and hit the notification bell so you do not miss out on any of these great conversations. And like I said, I’m very excited about today’s conversation. At this time, I’d like to welcome Casey Tygrett to the show. Casey, welcome.
Jason, it’s a blessing. Thank you so much.
Very excited about today’s conversation. It’s a unique conversation. You wrote a book. And actually, you published a book originally, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, but you published it a few years ago under a different title. But it’s been re-released under the title, The Practice of Remembering. And so this book is fascinating in that you dive deeply into the world of memories, how memories are really tied to our life with God, and how important they are. In fact, in the book, you are speaking about our life with God, you say that without memories, growth and formation simply wander off into oblivion. And Casey, that’s a big statement about how we are formed spiritually, right? So share with us a bit, if you would, Casey, about why memories are so intrinsically intertwined with our spiritual formation.
You know, first and foremost, since a lot of people who are watching are in pastoral roles, I think we come to the tasks that we do based on a memory that drives us. So I received a calling to be a pastor when I was right about ready to graduate from high school. And I remember that and even still, I remember that moment. And I remember the circumstances, I remember the details, and remember how I felt about it. And there are times in life where returning to that is the thing that keeps me going. Remember this moment. That has kept me going over the years. And so from vocation, like how we serve and the ways that God has built us to serve to how we grow. All of that is contingent on what we remember, what are the key things that have happened to us with God, self, and others that have shaped us over the years? You know, I love to ask people when we’re talking about this book, I love to ask them, tell me about the person who told you about God for the first time. And that memory is so much more powerful than we give it credit for because however God was presented to us first is the image of God we carry with us until it gets shifted, changed, or edited. And whatever that image of God is determines how we’re formed. So if we see God as the smiting smiter or if we see God as the uptight Tums-munching judge in the sky, we will be formed by that memory. That’s who God was taught to us as. And so now that’s the God that we will grow into. And so without memory, both formation, both malformation and transformation sort of slide off into the middle of nowhere. Because without memory there are things that we lose like a connection to who we are, the connection to where we belong. We remember scripture. And I don’t know if you’ve run into this, Jason, but as I get older, there are scriptures that I’ve memorized as a kid, that I think about them at 30. And at 40, not 50 yet. But 20, 30, and 40. The same scriptures mean different things. I remember them, and I remember the context. And sometimes it’s because I can look at my Bible and see oh, yeah, there’s highlighting there. And this is why I wrote that beside it. But that memory changes over time. So we reconnect with it, and then we bring it into a new place. And those are the things that change us. The things that make us wise are the moments we remember, either failure or insights that came to us. It’s the whole premise of if you walked down the stairs and you hit your head on the eve, the overhang, that’s a problem for me, I’m just not paying attention. But if you do it again, if you’ve forgotten what happened last time, what keeps us from doing it the second time is remembering that was terrible. Let’s not do that again. And that’s the nature of wisdom and wisdom is God’s way of building us and maturing us and changing us. So that’s why it’s so critical. And obviously, as you can hear, this then spider veins off into all sorts of things, spider webs off into all different sorts of topics and things that apply to our life with other people, things that apply to ministry. I think churches and organizations have memories that form them. Take me to a church and show me their bylaws, I can tell you what their conflicts have been over the last 15 years. Because they remember, we’re not doing that again. So we’re gonna build that in. We’re not going to do that again. So that’s the kind of wisdom, too, that helps to shape and form not only us but the organizations we serve.
Yeah, that’s helpful, Casey. And I want to lean into a little bit of what you just said, because we all have memories that are amazing, wonderful, warm, encouraging, right? And we look back on those and those are great to recall. We all also have memories that are painful, traumatic, and gut-wrenching at times, that we’d rather never, ever remember again, right? And in ministry, you know, thinking of a pastor or ministry leader, we can all look back at some of those mountaintop experiences in our course of ministry, some of the wonderful things that we experienced, that we had the opportunity to witness and be a part of, whatever that might be. But then, you know, I haven’t talked to a single pastor who doesn’t have some sort of devastating memory. Some sort of painful memory of whether it was some sort of betrayal, or hurt, or a deep failure, whatever that might be. So, Casey, we’ve got this bowl of memories that we can recall, that we can look back on. But oftentimes we have those painful memories. So how do those relate to our life in Christ?
Well, I want to be gentle with this, because I think too quickly we move to… there’s a variety of different responses that we can make to that. Sometimes we say the past is the past and we need to move on. Don’t let your past define you. Sometimes we might say, you can’t overcome that. That’s a story that can’t be unwritten. But where I like to go with that is to say, Jesus always had this way of taking the middle path. And when everybody else said it’s either this or this, Jesus a lot of times said, or it could be this. And it’s this middle road through everything. Another book that I wrote was a book on restlessness and I talked about how a lot of times it’s difficult memories like that that unsettle us. And we are forced into that spot where we feel like we have to make that choice. Either I get on with it and move on, pick myself up by my bootstraps and move on, or I just let it take me. Or sometimes we respond to those memories by pretending it’s not as bad. Oh, that’s not as bad as it seems. And by doing that, we don’t allow ourselves to really feel it. And we don’t allow ourselves to really reckon with it. And I think all memories have a redemptive power. And I think about the story that comes to mind for me is the story of Peter and Jesus’s betrayal. And this really interesting thing happens. So if you go back to the story, and Peter is outside in the courtyard while Jesus is being tried and confronted, and he’s sitting around this fire, and in the passage, John is very specific, it’s a charcoal fire. And he’s sitting there, and this is the place where he denies Jesus three times. Then there’s the crucifixion, the resurrection. And then the next thing we see is the scene on the beach. And Jesus calls out to Peter and Peter swims to him, and he comes up on the beach. And when he gets there, Jesus is cooking. And it specifically says he’s cooking over a charcoal fire. There’s only one place in the Scriptures where that word for charcoal fire is used. And it’s used twice, and it’s right there. And so one of the things we know, this is a long way around, but we’re coming back. One of the things we know from brain science is that smell memories are the longest lasting memories that we have, they actually jump the process, they don’t sit in our short-term memory, they immediately go to long-term memory. So scientists say because of where the smell receptors are in your brain, they skip the maitre d’ that takes you from to short-term and then to long-term, they go straight to long-term. So that means every smell you’ve ever smelled, you will remember for the rest of your life. Good, bad, and otherwise. So when you look at the story, you know that when Peter smelled that charcoal, it reminded him of his failure. But then Jesus takes that moment, that same fire, that same smell, and brings about a redemption. And so I think if we allow ourselves instead of trying to run from our painful memories, and instead of trying to say they’re not as bad as we thought, we allow ourselves to sit with them. I think if the crucifixion teaches us anything, it’s how we embrace pain knowing that pain is not the victor. And I don’t suggest anyone, so let me caveat the tar out of this, I don’t suggest anybody do that by themselves. Whether it’s a therapist, or a spiritual director, or a community of people, I don’t suggest anybody embrace the painful memories by themselves. And that’s one of the hard things I think, for ministry leaders. And one of the things I love about the work I get to do with Soul Care is that who is the one, like we tell people, I would give people in my church this advice. But when it’s the advice givers, who are the people we get to sit with who are safe enough, who can hold us as we are without the expectations that often come with ministry leadership? And so that’s the really difficult thing. So finding the people who help the helpers is vital. But I don’t suggest we embrace those painful memories by ourselves. But I think Jesus does show us a way, there is a way to carry those scars, those mental, detailed scars with us, and find redemption and hope for them moving forward.
Yeah, that is helpful, Casey. What about, we hear a lot about triggering, right, triggering thoughts? And that those trigger something, a past experience that we’ve had, oftentimes is tied with traumatic things, right? So what are your thoughts on your study of memories and how memories tie to our spiritual formation? These types of things? What are your thoughts around the idea of being triggered? You know, and again, often it’s a tie to trauma of some sort or traumatic experiences of some sort. I know we talked about the redeeming of memories. But I’m just curious about your perspective on it because this almost seems like a little, maybe a little bit of a deeper and more visceral response to something that might be triggered. So how does that kind of fit into our life in Christ as well?
Well, like anything. I feel like the first step is to take triggers seriously. There is a cultural component that has made triggers into kind of a laughable thing, like Oh, I’m triggered. Even books written about how to not be triggering with being offended, those things are kind of sometimes missed on each other. I think getting past that, underneath that is really important. I have thought this on occasion and so this built up into something else. I wonder if, in our student ministries and local churches, we shouldn’t have someone on the team or as part of our volunteer group who is a marriage and family therapist. Because the trauma is real, and the better understanding we as ministry leaders have of the nature and the impact of trauma, the better we’ll be able to serve not only ourselves, but other people and knowing how trauma functions, and knowing how we’re prompted. So when someone figures out, okay, this is a trigger for me. How do I respond to it? What do I need in that moment? And I think that’s a moment of prayer. You know, when we find ourselves acting in certain ways, it’s a wonderful moment to go God what in the world? Spirit, what’s happening, what is going on in me? Help me to see that. And again, that’s another place where I’d say, a spiritual director is a wonderful person to say, I’m discovering that I’m being triggered by this. Maybe finding out where God is present. And that’s the wonderful thing of it is, even in triggers, even in trauma, God is still present, right? And so when Jesus says, If you abide with me, I’ll abide with you. That’s not just when things are great. You know, when things are perfect and excellent, and you know, everything’s 100% and up and to the right, I’ll be with you. It’s, no no no, when you’re triggered, I will abide with you. I will stay with you. I’m not just going to be near you, I will abide with you, I’ll remain with you. And so understanding the nature of trauma, I think is important for ministry leaders, especially because one of the things that I’ve become interested in recently is trauma related to religious and spiritual abuse. There is trauma that comes out of people’s participation in local church communities. And understanding that certain things are taken for granted in local churches. Words we use and practices we have, have been used to abuse and traumatize. And so understanding how those things work. For me, it’s always been working, especially when I was in student ministry, but even now, working with people around the metaphor of God is Father. There are women who I’ve worked with, or teenage students in our student ministry who that just doesn’t work. And the reason why is because the word father is a trigger for them because of experiences they’ve had. So the one way that we can help to redeem that is to say, that is a way of conceiving of a God that we can’t fully understand. I’m about to get all, you know, mystic here on you. But I think this is important. Some of trauma is understanding where we’re forcing things that don’t need to be forced. The metaphor of God as Father is wonderful, but there are others. And there’s a freedom that we have in saying, we can’t fully understand God. So what I love to say is that the telescope is not the stars. We get in trouble when we mistake the thing that helps us understand God with God Himself. And so understanding God is father is important. But there are other ways to understand God. And so if there’s a trigger there, and that is coming from a traumatic memory, then creating a new one. And sometimes that gets a little fuzzy for people, especially if you’ve not had that experience. We’re like, Well, wait, you know, we have to call God Father. Well, let’s dig into why the scriptures call God Father. And is that something that’s a mandate? Or is that some way of understanding who God is? And can we say it differently?
Yeah, yeah. And that’s one of the beautiful gifts of like you said, a God that we can’t fully understand. And a God who is a creator God, too. Because there’s that sense of the truth within creativity. And in the beauty of that kind of tension between creativity and truth that we find in God allows us in our ministry work, allows us in our own spiritual formation to trust a faithful God in open and seeking and allowing room for that creativity to minister specifically to where we are in our lives. So I love that, Casey. It’s a great reminder and sometimes as you said it can be a challenge because we get stuck in our own ruts, I mean, we get stuck in what’s comfortable. And yet, Jesus shows us, hey, the whole idea of comfort is not really the kingdom. And so that’s the beauty of it, which is always fun in ministry. I want to move the conversation, which has been very helpful by the way, Casey, thank you. Because I think when we think of memories and there are those challenging memories, those painful memories, those traumatic memories, I think that’s something we need to take some time for. And I appreciate that you’re willing to do that, to consider. I want to kind of shift the conversation toward the idea that memories in the book, you share those very well, that memories actually become stories, right? And so as these memories become stories, and then we as people, and very specifically as people of God, who are on a journey with God, we become storytellers, right? In ministry, much of what we do in ministry, as you shared, is based on memory, remembering, right? The faith, remembering the Gospel story, remembering how it has impacted lives over millennia. And we are storytellers. We’re telling the story of God. So talk to us a little bit, Casey, about this idea of memories becoming stories and our lives as storytellers.
Yeah, yeah. That was probably my most favorite piece of writing and researching this is trying to understand how we get to not just the memories we have, but the impact they make on our lives. Because memories are not, they don’t just stop at being locked up in our brains. So every memory starts as an experience of some kind. We take it in through our senses. And then it transfers into being a memory. When it sits in that short term for a little while and then after repetition, or based on the severity or the power of the experience, then it gets put into our long-term memory. And so experiences that become memories are in us. And anything that’s in us has the power to change how we see the world and how we act. And so a story is something that, it’s the way we recount a memory if you want to think of it that way. So when I talk about my calling, I talked about that differently in my 20s than I do now in my mid-40s, nearing my late 40s. We don’t need to talk about that. But I talked about it differently now. And it’s not that the memory has changed. It’s that over the years, the wisdom I’ve gained, I began to see things differently. This is what happens to parents, new parents when they have their first child. And then they start getting into the actual work of parenting. Then they look at their own parents and the stories they remember of being a kid with their own parents. And they go, oh, wait a minute. Okay, that feels different now. And so the story can change over time. But basically how we live our life is a response to the stories that our memories have told us. So whether that’s the way we see God, the story of who God is, and our experience with God. I’ve walked with people who have had these amazing encounters with God, God’s speaking audibly. So their memory is of God speaking to them audibly and saying, take this job, marry this person, or go to this place. And then that becomes a story that they carry with them in their life that says God is the God who talks to us, who speaks to us. And that motivates them. And it changes how they act. So I always say that memories become stories and stories become scripts. They’re the ways that we live out our lives. Every pastor is operating by a script that is founded in the stories of life with God, self, and others, that comes from their memories. So if you want to know why a particular ministry leader does what they do, get them to tell you stories about their earliest experiences in ministry. Mine was my parents were volunteer youth leaders when I was six years old. And I remember distinctly, now this is six years old, this is 40 years ago. So let that sink in. Like I can’t remember what I did yesterday, but 40 years ago, I’ve got locked away in the long term. I remember waking up one Saturday morning and walking in the living room and there was some random teenager asleep on our couch and bags of their stuff piled around him. Then they got kicked out of their house, and they had no idea where to go. And my parents took him in. And that was part of what they saw as what God had invited them to do as student ministry leaders. That story stuck with me. And that shapes how I see how we meet people in crisis. Now, I haven’t thought about that, how that impacts me until probably two minutes ago when I decided to tell you that story, but it’s in there. I mean, it’s in the background, and it’s creating and influencing the script that we use when we do what we do. When I work with premarital couples, and anybody watching this who does premarital counseling, you don’t have to ask them how their parents’ marriages are or were. Just watch how they’re approaching their relationship, then you can start to see some of the pieces. Like oh, you don’t trust them with your money. You don’t trust your spouse to have a shared bank account, I have a feeling I know where that comes from. Either a bad experience where that sharing backfired, or a story that came from their own parent’s marriage that said, this is unwise, or you don’t need to do this. So all of us are acting out of these memories that have become stories. And now they’re the scripts for how we run our lives. And that’s why Jesus, this is what I think repentance really is. Repentance is changing our minds about the core story of God, self, and others that we’ve been living in. Because the Greek word is literally to change your mind. So it isn’t so much about you know, when I was a kid, I grew up in Southern West Virginia. And so I grew up in kind of a hellfire and brimstone kind of church. And, you know, in the Southern accent, repent has like seven syllables. It’s like Re-pe-an-ta. And I always thought it was this, you know, bang your head on the floor, tell God how really sorry you are until I started getting into the language. And it’s like, no, no, no, it’s about changing your mind. It’s about seeing things differently and understanding what’s actually happening. And so I think repentance is harder. Changing and stopping what we’re doing is easy. Changing our story that animates, why we do what we do, that’s harder. And so when we start talking about what really transforms people, and what really transforms us in pastoral ministry, it’s changing our mind about those core stories. This is what I’m for. This is what the church is for. And this is what people are for. This is how we read Scripture. This is how we do this. When God invites us to investigate those core stories that have formed the script for our ministry. That’s the real strap-on-your-hard-hat kind of work of spiritual transformation.
Yeah, that’s solid, Casey. So let’s dig in just a little bit there then, right? Practically speaking, if I’m in ministry and I either personally recognize or because of my interactions with staff, or key ministry volunteers, or my spouse, whoever those voices might be in our lives that we trust. And they’re recognizing something in our leadership, our conduct, how we respond to conflict, whatever it might be, right? How do we then begin to really investigate those memories, those stories, that we kind of you say turn into a script, right? So that script that we’re living out. Practically speaking, how do we begin to say, Okay, wait a second. And not just accept it for this is who I am, which is oftentimes done, right? We all know that people are like, Hey, this is how God made me, right? How do we pull back and say, you know, I believe that the Spirit wants to continue to do work in my life? This is an area where others have recognized, I have recognized that the story, the script, I might not be living as healthy as I should be. Practically speaking, what do we do at that point? How do we begin to wrestle with that story?
That’s a great question. First, the very first thing that I would say to that is I don’t believe this work can be done if we are in a state of hurry. I think we’ve had voices from Dallas Willard to John Ortberg, to John Mark Comer, who have talked about the ruthless elimination of hurry. And I’m so glad that that’s at the level of conversation still in a lot of places because I do think it’s not about Don’t be busy. Hurry is a state of being. And it’s a state of being that never allows us to pause and pay attention. And so I think all of this begins with setting priorities and setting rhythms and boundaries in our lives that allow us to pay attention. If we are in a state that Ruth Haley Barton calls performance-oriented drivenness, where we believe God loves us, or other people esteem us based on what we’ve achieved, it will be nearly impossible to do the work that we’re talking about. And can you go your whole ministry and never do this? Sure. Yeah, absolutely. And we see that all the time. But I wonder if you’re missing out on really the best that God has for you. So I think being able to be at a place where you’re unhurried enough to pay attention. And that could be that some of that comes from maybe a meeting with a spiritual director. A spiritual director, practically, is the kind of person we are built for non-anxious space. If you meet with me for an hour, I am not going to work some kind of program, there’s gonna be a lot of silence, it’s gonna be a lot of listening, there’s going to be a lot of paying attention to what God is up to. So I think that’s the first thing. I think hurry is the enemy of critiquing our stories and scripts. Second, I think we do need to pay attention to our critics. John O’Donoghue, the Irish poet and philosopher said that everything that happens to us has the potential to deepen us. And that’s a broad statement, but I love the richness of that, especially in local church work because you’re not going to lack for critics. And if you’re lacking for critics, the old dictum is like, if you don’t have any critics, you’re probably not doing it right. I don’t know that it’s that. I think sometimes we can be vanilla enough to not ruffle feathers. But most of the time we’re gonna have a critic and those critics can a lot of times teach us about our stories. So I had an experience once where I preached a particular take on the Genesis creation narrative. I mean, if you want to talk about how do you kick down the hornet’s nest, talk about creation. I preached this particular topic and there was a person in our congregation who had an issue with how I preached it, they had a different view of it than I did. And their comment was, and the comment was not to me, it was to someone else who passed it on to me, which is always fun. They said the Bible needs a better interpreter than Casey. And after a lot of debt and a lot of seminary, that really hit a place. And I was angry and I was upset. But the further away I’ve gotten from that, it’s also like, so what story got upset there? Like, are you impenetrable? Are you this impenetrable scholar? Or is that paper hanging on your wall a shield? Because maybe you’re not honoring this critique here but will you honor it when it is legitimate? So being able to listen to our critics I think is a big part of that. And the third thing is, can we listen to people with different stories? I think being able to see ourselves and how we operate in ministry. And then can we connect with someone who has a vastly different approach to it and really listen? Not listen for the sake of debate or for the sake of refuting them or converting them. One of my best friends in ministry for a long time is a guy who’s a pastor of a Presbyterian Church. And we, at the time, had a pretty different theological bent. And also ministry practice was very different. But it was so rich to be able to sit and talk with him. We talked about preaching once and he said I don’t know how you’ve Evangelicals do it, like 35-45 minutes. He said, that’s four sermons for me. It’s like a 10 to 12 homily. And I thought, well now see that’s worth thinking about. If I can’t say it in 20 minutes, does it need to be said? Or do we need another week? And so I really re-thought my story about preaching based on that conversation. Now, that’s kind of a surface-level example but you can go all the way down with that. If you have someone in your life who lives by a different story, it helps you a lot of times to see your own. And that’s when God invites you to be like, maybe this is a place where there’s some transformation needed. Maybe you need to think of your story differently. There are so many accounts of and occasions of people who have come into contact with an experience outside of their own and it has massively changed them. A lot of times it’s the story of mission trips. You go to a third-world country and you do something that you think is charitable and the locals are like, please don’t do that. That’s not helpful. All of a sudden your story is shifted like, oh, what I thought was help is actually harm. When Helping Hurts, the book, that people are familiar with, it’s just a wonderful book. Like, there are things we feel our common sense helps, that are actually systemic harms. So just exposing ourselves to those different stories. So not being hurried, paying attention to our critics, having someone you know, some people who have a different story, and there are probably leagues more, but those are the three that I think are kind of first steps that we could take.
Excellent, Casey. Absolutely love that. Appreciate that. Casey, this conversation has been powerful and incredible. Certainly appreciate all the work you’re doing at Soul Care. We love your ministry, we love Mindy, we love the whole crew over there. Certainly appreciate them. Definite friends of ours in ministry. And your book, The Practice of Remembering. So I would love for you to share a little bit with those who are watching and listening along how if they want to dig into this topic more and find your book, where they can find it, what are some resources you have, ways to connect with you and with your ministry, all of those types of things. Share with us.
Absolutely, yeah. So the book is re-releasing on December the fifth. And that will be through InterVarsity Press. So you can find that at Amazon or wherever. I would recommend one of the wonderful tools that’s out there right now is a couple of websites one is called Bookshop, which serves local small bookstores. I think that’s a great way to purchase books and to support some real people who you may actually meet, who care a lot about books. So that’s one place to dig into that. You can also for the sake of the conversation around spiritual direction, if that’s something you’re interested in, SoulCare.com. We have some entry points for you to talk to someone like me about spiritual direction, and then get connected with the director. And then any other resources. So I host a podcast called Restlessness Is A Gift, I have a couple other books, and do a bit of writing on a blog. You can find that at my website, CaseyTygrett.com. That’s a place where I put some content there and I have some opportunities for one-on-one connections as well, that you can find there. But yeah, those are some good starting points. And then on the social medias, Instagram, I’m not on Twitter very much anymore, but I’m trying the Threads thing, we’ll see. Facebook as well, you can find me there, just search my name and you’ll find me on those platforms.
Perfect, awesome. And for those who are watching or listening along, if you aren’t able to jot all of those down, don’t worry, we will have that in the toolkit, links to the book, links to the resources, Soul Care, links to Casey’s website, all of those things we will have available for you. And you can find the toolkit PastorServe.org/network and a lot of other great resources, including the Ministry Leaders Growth Guide to kind of help you dig more deeply into the conversation that Casey and I had today. So be sure to check that out. Casey, man, it has been an absolute pleasure and a blessing to have you on the show. Thank you again for making the time to hang out with us and to share your heart and for this conversation around memories and how that ties into our spiritual formation. Such a refreshing topic, something that we can all spend some time kind of digging into, thinking through, and processing through. And I think we will all be better for it as we journey with Christ. So thank you again, brother, for making the time.
My pleasure, Jason. Thank you for your kind questions.
All right, 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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