Multiplication Center

The Now, The Next, and The Never Again – Part 2

March 25, 2023

By Mindy Caliguire

The Promise of Shalom

Are you flourishing in every area of your life? Should it matter that you do? I’d like to suggest that it does matter. A great deal. It matters to you, to your family, to your team, to your community… and yes, it matters to God.

I love the connection that theologian Cornelius Plantinga makes between the holistic idea of flourishing and the Biblical imagination of shalom.

In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight—a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed; a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin).

At my former employer Gloo, we partnered with the Barna Group as well as thought leaders from the Human Flourishing Project at Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science to deeply explore the dynamics of human flourishing. The concept of human flourishing is surely what the Hebrew word shalom calls to mind.

“Shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight.” —Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

Research has shown five key drivers to human flourishing that would warrant a prominent place of reflection and intentionality in whatever structure, trellis, rule of life or plan you develop:

  1. Spiritual Health
  2. Relational Health
  3. Physical/Mental Health
  4. Financial Health
  5. Vocational Health

A simple assessment will help you see where you stand in these five areas. All five warrant a place in your overall plan for soul health. At a high level, my structure generally looks like this these days.

  • Spiritual: prayer, journaling, reading
  • Relational: seeking help in troubled relationships; continuing to build into the strong ones
  • Physical/Mental: Intentional habits around sleep, food, and exercise
  • Financial: Practicing generosity, contentment, and better awareness
  • Vocational: Embracing calling, embracing service

So how about you? Consider all the dimensions of soul, of self, of body, relationships, and mind. What’s your holistic plan for self-care? Silent prayer? Sleep? Sabbath? Exercise? Nutrition? Recreation? Hobbies? Life-giving relationships? Vocation? Finances?

Beyond being a much more sane and enjoyable way to live, a life of flourishing defined in this way (or, as we might say, a healthy soul) will benefit you from a ministry leadership perspective. You will increasingly be able to answer the multitude of questions that cannot now be known or discerned; you will find answers that cannot be simply copied and pasted from someone else’s ministry context, gifting, resources or calling.

This is your journey, and we all need you to take it.

A Page, a Person, and a Plan

As my team and I have worked with denominations, large and small churches, and various parachurch organizations, we have been inviting leaders into a simple framework to support the health and life of their souls in the context of ministry. We think of this framework as a Page, a Person, and a Plan.

A Page

The first part of the framework for soul health is a Page. Our souls increase in health as we embrace reflection and self-awareness. There may be many ways to enter this complicated and convoluted interior environment, but one of the best places I’ve returned to again and again is in the pages of a journal.

A journal provides a non-judgmental invitation to authentic self-expression, focused prayer, and sincere questioning of self and God.

A journal provides a non-judgmental invitation to authentic self-expression, focused prayer, and sincere questioning of self and God. There is benefit to physically writing, including slowing your mind and harnessing several dimensions of the brain.

If you want to experiment or refresh your journaling practice, our Jumpstart to Journaling experience was created with you in mind. We created a way you can engage with journaling prompts for 21 days.

We also have another free resource, a mini-book called Write for Your Soul.

A Person

The second part of the framework we use to pursue soul health is a Person. We all need a third safe space—a real-life, human relationship where we can be fully honest, seen, known, and supported in our journey. This safe space could be found through a counselor, a life coach, a spiritual director, a ministry peer, or a cohort of other leaders. Whether virtually or in-person, we all need someone with whom we can be gut-level honest about our struggles and challenges, our doubts, and fears—and also about our joys, hopes, aspirations, and dreams.

Everything we are learning from neuroscience about the role of relationships in our transformation reinforces and validates what we have long sensed: We have the capacity to be positively shaped and reshaped by certain kinds of relationships. But truly open, authentic, and unagenda-ed relationships are tremendously difficult to develop in the midst of vocational ministry. So the services of spiritual directors, coaches, therapists, and others can be vital to our soul’s health and growth.

We all need someone with whom we can be gut-level honest about our struggles and challenges, our doubts, and fears—and also about our joys, hopes, aspirations, and dreams.

Our team provides professional, virtual spiritual direction and coaching to individuals and organizations. And is a virtual community we are building through soul care for leaders globally to connect and gain encouragement for their own journey as well as their support of others. You can access groups, cohorts, courses, virtual and in-person events, and more.

A Plan

The third and final part of the framework we use to pursue soul health is a Plan. Once again, we turn to neuroscience, spiritual formation, and ancient wisdom of the church to see the value of a plan. Historically, the people of God would develop a shared rule of life, or a way of life, as a structure of intentionality to support growth. Like a garden trellis, the structure itself has no ability to impart life, but to a plant seeking to grow, the structure gives something to hang onto, something to share the weight, something to increase exposure to the light and air, and ultimately, something to increase the fruit that is borne.

We believe that by journaling and seeking out those important, deep relationships, you will sense a plan beginning to form, one that will lead you deeper into soul health and the shalom—the peace and flourishing—we were made to experience.

A Final Word About Your Calling

In my lifetime, vocational ministry has never been more difficult. You have never been more misunderstood, robbed of the validating benefits of your role, or placed in impossible situations where no matter what you say—or don’t say—you will be criticized, judged, and abandoned. You have never been more scrutinized, confused, without options, and seemingly alone.

I see you. We see you. I know you’re waking up each and every day trying to follow the latest best practices, the latest research, the ancient paths, and the teachings of Jesus. All while trying to keep your marriage afloat, your finances in check, your kids on a solid path, and your personal health in a good place.

I know you’re exhausted. You’re afraid. You’re tired of being tired. You forget that God is with you, that God is for you. And then you forget that you forgot.

Even now, while you’re reading these words, the river of God’s goodness, God’s power, God’s loving-kindness is flowing all around you.

Maybe you resent your congregation. Maybe you can’t focus. You make dumb mistakes. You rehearse your mistakes. You are defensive and angry and paranoid and tired. Again, you’re tired. You put massive pressure on yourself. You get angry at Scriptures that speak to a different life than the one you’re currently living.

But here’s what I also know is true:

  1. Your performance has nothing to do with your worth. Nothing.
  2. Your family is rooting for you. Even if they’re angry, distant, and also beyond hope. They want you back.
  3. God is able to meet you in the full totality of your interior and exterior circumstances. Right here, right now.
  4. God’s posture toward you remains unfailingly, irreversibly, relentlessly for you. For your good, for your life, for your flourishing.

Even now, while you’re reading these words, the river of God’s goodness, God’s power, God’s loving-kindness is flowing all around you.

Your part in God’s kingdom is uniquely yours, and really matters. Whether you stay in vocational ministry or find yourself elsewhere, your life is still part of the unfolding story of God in human history. You will never leave ministry, and that’s a good thing.

Care for your soul. Like the treasure in a field, sell everything if you must to get back to a place of rest and connection in God’s presence. Everything else you care about will flow from that place.


Adapted from “The Now, The Next, and The Never Again” by Mindy Caliguire, Outreach Magazine, November 5, 2021.

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Mindy Caliguire

Mindy Caliguire

Mindy is the co-founder and president of Soul Care (, a spiritual formation ministry that exists to increase “soul health” in the body of Christ. She serves in senior leadership for Cherith Analytics, and in the past has served in executive leadership at Gloo (, and at the Willow Creek Association (WCA). She speaks and advises organizations including Stadia Church Planting and various churches and ministries across the US and beyond. The Soul Care team serves organizations including Christ Church of the Valley, Dallas Theological Seminary, Plum Creek Church, and more. Mindy’s books include Discovering Soul Care and Spiritual Friendship from InterVarsity Press and STIR: Spiritual Transformation in Relationships from Zondervan (HCC).
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