There are many spiritual practices at which I am absolutely rotten. I actually didn’t know that I was so bad until I spent a year or so between when I stopped having any pastoral responsibilities at the Cathedral of Hope and started pastoring at Virginia-Highland Church.
People often ask how it feels to go from preaching to hundreds of people each Sunday to preaching to a hundred on a good Sunday. I can say honestly that I am as passionate about one as I was about the other. That doesn’t seem to make sense to people, and I’ve pondered why it is I honestly feel this way. My only insight is that the spiritual discipline that is required is exactly the same. It is like an athlete running a race or playing a match with thousands in the stands or inside an empty stadium. The preparation for the race or the match is the same.
What I have discovered, after doing ministry for so long, is the requirements for the job that frames my personal spiritual practices. Pastoring a congregation and preaching to them each week gives me context for the prayers I pray every day as I awaken and as I fall asleep. The bible study I do is almost always an exercise for engaging the scriptures I will have to preach on this Sunday. The prophetic work of peace and justice is done with a keen awareness of trying to motivate others to “do justice, love mercifully, and walk humbly with God.”
What I wonder is how everyone else keeps themselves spiritually motivated? What do you do to keep your spiritual practices alive and relevant? How do you stay engaged with the scripture, discipline yourself to pray regularly, do the work of justice and peacemaking as an expression of your faith?
Actually, you are my heroes. I do it because every week I must stand before a congregation, large or small, and bear witness to what I think the Spirit is saying or doing. To do that with integrity requires me to be authentically spiritually alive. My life and vocation requires that. In truth, I think yours does, too. What I want to know is how you do it faithfully? It determines if this day is a holy adventure or just another day at the mill.
By Michael Piazza
The Center for Progressive Renewal