It’s a new year, which means that a new season of ministry with students is upon us.
And as we’ve launched into 2013, I’ve generated a new reading list for myself, and decided to start the year by re-reading a couple of classics.
I couldn’t venture a guess as to the number of times that I’ve worked through this book, or parts of it. The first time I read it I was in grad. school — and it changed my life! Since then I’ve re-read it several times on my own, and led numerous groups through it as a way of learning to work on the interior life.
This book is on a short list of books that I genuinely recommend to anyone and everyone that wants to grow their faith deep and more intentionally pursue the heart of God.
Here’s an excerpt that sums up — for me — why it’s so important:
Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people. (Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, p. 1)
Foster doesn’t mix words. Superficiality plagues our campuses (and American culture) — and religious communities are not immune to it. We need only look at a cross-section of the communities we serve to see how true these words are.
And yet, all is not lost…
Foster is clear that there is indeed a cure to what ails us, and while it’s attainable by all, it will unfortunately be pursued by few.
Deep people — not philosophically so (although they can indeed be deep in the way Foster describes), but deep in ways where the spiritual roots of one’s soul sink down deeper and deeper into the rich, life-giving soil of God.
Again, this kind of depth, while available to all, is hard to find in our culture. Why? Because it’s so unlike most things we encounter and pursue in this life.
While we can pursue it, we cannot manufacture it.
While we can work at it, we cannot manipulate it.
While there is indeed work for us to do, there is a lot of it that only God can do — and we don’t really know how to do “part” of something, or partner with God. We’re used to doing it all, or letting someone else do it all.
Spiritual depth is a possibility for all of us — equally available to the seeker, spiritual beginner, and life-long follower of Jesus.
So I want to encourage you, as you faithfully launch into a new season of ministry with students, to pursue the deeper life.
I invite you, as I am inviting myself once again, to be a person who puts first their pursuit of Jesus in ways that are life-giving and transformative.
And may we be pastors and leaders who invite, encourage, and challenge our students to become young women and men of deep faith, conviction, and character — and thereby challenging the status quo of our time.