“To be unbusy, you have to disengage yourself from egos – both yours and others – and start dealing with souls. Souls cannot be hurried.”
— Eugene H. Peterson
PASTORAL work is the work of the soul, not so much against the world, but completely other than. Such soul work is the antithesis of either the driving ego or the drive to satisfy egos ventured from the mode of busyness.
Busyness and soul work cannot coexist. They are mutually exclusive.
This is good news – a gospel message – to the person of the Kingdom, who is sick and tired of busyness and its interruption in the peace of a life otherwise had.
But the serene satisfaction of soul work is far more than reconciling our busyness and getting rid of the power the ego has over us.
Indeed, busyness and the ego – having managed them out – are merely long lost memories of invitations to worldly life. These are either present or they aren’t, but far too much of our Western lives they invade and are constant companions; one produced of the world and another of the flesh.
Having eradicated ego-oriented drives – having organised our lives in such a way that busyness fades – there is the inbounding opportunity to invest in souls – ours initially, and then as we ministering to others’. This is pastoral work, where our sole focus surrounds living beings and their wellbeing.
We understand that the sheep given to us are for our care, as we are stewards of their souls, caring for them as would our Master. Given that we are working for God, having been entrusted with God’s property and not our own, our responsibilities are steeped and real and almost terrifying. They would be terrifying if not for the grace that empowers our work.
Soul work is the greatest privilege. It assumes life is not a bunch of tasks, but the very real endeavour of soul study and sanctification. Soul work is permission to contemplate the moment, to take our time, and even to waste time. Indeed, when we can waste time, we don’t have any problem in investing in relationships where trust might be nurtured and built; where motives are pure and for the other person.
Not to be hurried is what so many of us really want. It’s as if our souls cry out for it. We do need time to feel and to think and to make meaning. And when we do feel and think and make meaning we are doing soulful activities. Nurturing the soul is our most satisfying work.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.