Soul Care By Andrea Leigh Capuyan
Soul Care and The Steward Leader
On any given Monday morning I often find myself sitting at my desk reviewing my calendar, preparing a report for the board, and prioritizing all the tasks for the week. But lately, my attention is shifting. The more I define and explore leadership through the lens of a steward, the more I realize I am empowered to “BE” not to “DO,” and the mission of a steward leader is about the “WHO” not the “WHAT.” We’ve heard it before – stewardship is the proper management of resources. But it’s more than that. A steward leader is meant to focus on people… on SOULS. Moreover, we don’t just focus on those we wish to reach or help or serve. Our primary gaze should be on the souls who work alongside us because they are entrusted to our care.
So, how do we properly steward the souls around us who matter most? As a steward leader, how do we practice soul care in the workplace?
Auto-pilot is easy. Too often work and ministry can be in a whirlwind of demands and urgency. Pausing is antithetical to our current way of life. “Tuning out” the business of ministry and “tuning in” requires intention and focus. One of our most important tasks as a steward leader is to pay attention and pause. More importantly, invite others to pause. When we pause together, the conversation ceases to be about goals or activities or deadlines. Rather, we give attention to inner longings and motivations. We share desires and even our demands. Conversations become deeper, richer and more substantive.
Soul care begins by being attuned to the heart. Be attuned to a team member’s emotional needs as well as our own. Be attuned to our environment. Are we in a season of contemplation or a season of grief? A steward leader will deliberately create time and space for grief and reflection. Be attuned to God. Where is He convicting us? How is He moving us? What is He resurrecting in us?
Steward leadership requires us to pay attention and to be present. The worries of the day, the stress of a busy week, and the painful concerns of my personal life are real and valid. All these things can vie for my attention, distracting me from relationships that deserve my presence in the here and now. When I pause with a teammate, am I listening or simply responding? Steward leaders submit their desires and lay aside their agenda for the sake of another soul. Soul care is about listening to a story God is telling in someone else’s life.
When I am present and inquisitive about another soul’s story, they will walk me down the inward path to unearth more of their own heart. Together we help one another discover and acknowledge the hidden motives which drive our habits and actions. I am intent and fully present with them as they explore and reflect on their story. Their reflection cultivates insight. Insight and reflection empower transformation.
I have a colleague whose goal is to learn something new each day. That’s a refreshing thought. How tempting it is to define leadership by what we know, rather than a willingness to learn. Do I think my role as a leader is primarily telling people what I think they need to know, or do I actively expect to learn something new in every conversation? Steward leaders empower others to teach, and do not just tell others what to do. Soul care invites God to show us something that we cannot see on our own. With each conversation and in each relationship, God wishes to change me as much as He is changing someone else. Steward leaders welcome the lessons we’ve yet to learn. In order to flourish we must first prune and fertilize. Growth will soon follow. Steward leaders are open to change, feedback and adaptation. We expect it and we seek it. God does not expect me to be perfect or to have all the answers, but He does expect me to always be willing to be taught.
How is your practice of soul care as a steward leader?
- Think about your teammates and colleagues. How are they doing? Are you paying attention to their soul? Ask them to share one of their dreams with you today. Ask them about one of their heartaches.
- Think about the whole ministry where you serve. When are you creating opportunities for shared reflection and deeper conversations? I invite you to make it a priority this month.
- How do you define the work God’s entrusted to you today? Is it a “to do” list or is it a “to be” list? Pause. What do you need to do today to BE ATTUNED, to BE PRESENT and to BE TEACHABLE?
Andrea Leigh Capuyan, CCNL, CNAP, is the Executive Director of the Laurel Pregnancy Center in Laurel, Maryland. She is cares about leadership development and organizational culture within the small nonprofit ministry setting. She is passionate about encouraging fellow women in their roles as leaders. Defining our identity as a steward of God informs her perspective on everything – faith, leadership and spiritual transformation.
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