Years ago, I led a group of people from Messiah Lutheran Church in Albuquerque on a Spiritual Growth Retreat. (As an aside, the retreat was held at a Bed & Breakfast in Durango, years before I was called as a pastor here.) Part of this retreat was to help the participants discern how they tend to their spiritual life. As I was looking for resources to lead this discussion, I stumbled upon a resource called the Spirituality Inventory. Little did I know how much this simple resource would help me to understand my own spirituality, too.
No one ever really taught me about how to tend to my spiritual life, or – at least – if they did, it didn’t stick. As a result, I had this notion that spirituality needed to look and be expressed in a certain way: go to church; read the Bible; pray before meals and at bedtime, just as a few examples. I did these things all the time. And you know what happened? Nothing. My faith, my spiritual life, felt non-existent. I didn’t feel spiritually fed, especially after I became a pastor and “going to church” turned into “lead a worship service.” Spirituality suddenly felt like a job, not a life-giving gift.
It was with this simple Spirituality Inventory, though, that I began to understand spirituality as a beautiful and complex way of life, not a one-size-fits-all checklist. It validated the ways that my spirituality was fed, and it highlighted the ways in which my spiritual life could expand.
Once I found this resource, I eagerly sought out others like it to help me understand my particular spirituality, discern my unique gifts, and use them in a way that honors God and others. Over the years, then, I have continued to cultivate the things that I’ve learned: that my spirituality is often fed through Bible studies, book studies, and lectures or speeches; that my spirituality is often expressed best through writing, public speaking, and teaching; that places and periods of silent solitude are not just nice-to-have’s, but need-to-have’s for me to maintain and deepen my spiritual life; that advocacy and activism tend to deplete me and my energy, yet they can also be avenues for expanding my understanding of spirituality.
As I look forward to next summer and my renewal leave which will begin in June, I am already eagerly anticipating the gift of time to tend to my spirituality with more intention. Before I go, I will be leading sermon series on Expressing Spirituality, and you, too, will have the opportunity to learn about your spirituality through this simple inventory.
Until then, if you have questions or want to hear more about my experience, let me know! I’d love to talk with you about it.