Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. –PROVERBS 4:23
A trending topic in the Christian world today is the importance of soul care, which promotes caring for our bodies, minds and souls as we place all our worries in the Lord’s hands. It is an ever-important issue as we work to fulfill the duties the Lord has for us on this earth and walk in a manner that is worthy of his calling (Eph. 4:1).
God has called each of us to be leaders in our communities in some form or another. We all have the ability and opportunity to influence those around us, whether we are teaching the truths of Scripture or simply living them out as an example for others. And whether we realize it or not, when we influence others in any of these ways, we are leading them. As Christian leaders we have been entrusted with the highest honor: We are called by Jesus Christ to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything he has commanded (Matt. 28:19-20).
How humbling it is to know that the Lord has chosen to use us and that he has appointed us with this great responsibility! It is no secret, though, that great responsibility can lead to great anxiety and stress. When we do not take the proper steps to take care of ourselves and make sure our souls are being fed, we impair our ability to lead other people well.
There are many avenues through which the Lord may choose to work on your soul. One such area wherein the Lord blesses you with the means to sustain, enrich and mature your spiritual life is through godly Christian community. Lack of community is a struggle that I believe everyone has faced this past year. Listeners around the world have shared the struggles they have experienced because of isolation during lockdowns and stay-at-home orders. Time and time again in Scripture, the Lord makes it clear that man was not made to be alone. In the beginning, the Lord said, “I see it is not good for man to be alone. I will make the companion he needs, one just right for him” (Gen. 2:18). The main example I would like to share, one that has spoken volumes to me and that specifically shows the importance of community in times of testing and trials, is in the book of Numbers.
If you read through Numbers in the Old Testament, you will find Moses leading the Israelites to the Promised Land. The Lord had been providing manna for his people to keep them nourished on their journey, but the Israelites had become unhappy with the simplicity of God’s miraculous means of feeding them. In their ungratefulness, Scripture tells us, there was a sense of hysteria that spread throughout the camp. Men and women wept at the door of Moses’ tent; “Give us meat, that we may eat” (Num. 11:13), they pleaded. Moses became overwhelmed and cried out to God, “I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me” (Num. 11:14). The Lord in his providence had Moses call upon 70 elders who were leaders and officials among the people. He said, “I will take some of the Holy Spirit that is on you and put it on them” (Num. 11:17). The Lord did this so that the elders could bear the burden of the people with Moses. The Lord would not allow his servant to be overcome by his burden; he provided for Moses so he would not have to do it alone.
This is merely one beautiful example of God providing for Moses when life became too much to bear and his soul had begun to give up. But notice, God didn’t simply make Moses feel better, nor did he take the burden away entirely. Instead, God empowered Moses to continue carrying the burden and leading the way, which he had been divinely called to do. But the Lord also raised up others to come alongside Moses, sharing in that burden and enabling him to persevere in his calling.
In this lonely and soul-crushing time, when COVID-19 threatens the lives of millions and prevents millions more from participating in life-giving communities, we encourage all of you to allow God to provide for the needs of your hearts, souls and minds. Consequently, you will be able to be leaders in your communities, effective and zealous for God’s mission in your lives.