Multnomah will host a Day of Prayer from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, November 20, at the JCA Student Center. Dr. Morris Dirks, who has been a pastor for more than 25 years in the Pacific Northwest, will lead the event. Dirks has a doctorate in leadership and spiritual formation and recently published "Forming The Leader's Soul: An Invitation to Spiritual Direction." He is the founder and director of SoulFormation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to nurturing the spiritual and emotional health of Christian leaders.
The idea for SoulFormation came to Dirks more than 10 years ago, when he found himself in the midst of a dysfunctional church. What began as an energetic, hope-filled ministry had morphed into a season of depression, cynicism and disillusionment. Dirks was emotionally and spiritually exhausted. Out of desperation, he turned to a psychiatrist for help. Eventually he realized that he needed more than doctors and counselors — he needed spiritual direction in the form of a soul friend; someone who could help him make sense of the events in his life and the impact they were having on his soul.
Once Dirks found spiritual direction, his life changed. Today, he's loving life and ministry more than ever. His trials have made him realize the intense challenges and loneliness many ministry leaders battle. Several of these leaders, because of their position in the church, don't feel they had a safe, accepting place to turn to when they needed help. SoulFormation, founded in 2005, helped solve this problem. The organization provides these leaders with support and resources that help them care for their souls and tend to their spiritual needs.
Dirks believes that the highs and lows people encounter in ministry present them with unique opportunities for spiritual formation. Ups and downs aren't just for leaders, though; they come to everyone who's walking with Christ.
"It's easy to rush through life without paying attention to our own soul," Dirks says. "This is true for most people – students, professors, pastors, CEOs and on it goes. When our souls feel thin, we slip into all kinds of difficult and dangerous places. The easiest thing in the world is to fill your soul with the wrong stuff."
Dirks recalls receiving an email from a young leader who should have been on top of the world. Instead, he felt as if everything was caving in around him. He wrote to Dirks: "I believe I am in need of some soul care. I know we all struggle with different issues in ministry from time to time. I certainly do. But I think some of my issues have been piling up so much that I am at a point where I’m ready to throw in the 'ministry towel.' I really don’t want to continue serving unless God changes my heart. I think all the issues I’m struggling with stem from my heart condition. I don’t know how to fix it myself."
This young leader's dilemma illustrates every Christian's need for spiritual formation, no matter what stage they're in.
"There is something deep inside [people] that needs special care...and when it's neglected, they experience an internal crisis," Dirks says. "This struggle to care for the soul is a central theme in the Bible. It is the top priority!"
During Day of Prayer, Dirks will address what the soul is and how it should be cared for.
"Many of us wait too long before we take soul care seriously – we discover that the battery has died and we don't know where to find a charger," he says. "Join me for our Day of Prayer as we explore new pathways of renewal that will form the soul."
Day of Prayer schedule:
9 a.m. Begin with a community worship session, followed by a time of prayer for our acting president, Dr. Wayne Strickland
9:20 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Dirks will teach and invite students, faculty and staff into a time of prayer and personal reflection
11:30 a.m. - noon Time of responsive reflection and prayer, including writing a personal psalm to the Lord
If you have any questions about Day of Prayer, contact Student Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Multnomah University observes a semi-annual Day of Prayer. Undergraduate and seminary classes are cancelled so that students can take time for spiritual renewal and refreshment through personal and corporate prayer. As we prepare the next generation of Christian leaders, we believe in not only caring for their minds academically, but also for their souls.
Tags: church leaders., Day of Prayer 2013, Dr. Wayne Strickland, leadership, ministry leaders, Morris Dirks, Multnomah Day of Prayer 2013, Multnomah seminary, Multnomah University, prayer, soul care, SoulFormation, spiritual care, spiritual formation, spiritual renewal, worship