In Part 1 we shared 4 Real Threats to the Spiritual Health of a BAMer: insights from 12 BAM practitioners on challenges they’d experienced to their spiritual well-being. In Part 2 below, find out how these BAMers actively nurture their relationship with the Lord.
1. Find a routine that works for you
All of the BAMers mentioned daily or weekly routines, disciplines and resources that best enabled them to talk to the Lord, to understand His word and to worship Him. Disciplines and tools such as setting aside time for prayer at a certain time, scripture reading plans, scripture meditation, devotional materials, prayer lists, contemplation, and so on, are all helpful. Consistency and knowing what works for you in a particular season are important keys.
- What is my spiritual temperament? How do I best worship and relate to God?
- What is God doing in this season of my life and what spiritual disciplines or tools will enhance that?
- Where can I create space in my daily, weekly, monthly and annual routine to strengthen my relationship with the Lord and my spiritual health?
I give God the firstfruits of my time: Whenever I’m at my peak, I give that time to God. I’m a morning person, so I always start the day with him, giving him my best and exclusive focus. No social media, emails, etc to set my mind off into the world, but stilling practices including silence, solitude, reflection and prayer. I follow a plan for reading the Bible. It sounds a little basic, but by sticking to a plan, it means I have a healthy scaffold from which my relationship with God is developed and sustained. – Liam, Australia
I thank the Lord that that He trained me to be quite disciplined in a daily ‘quiet time’ from my early days as a Christian. I know that I am still learning but I have a fairly disciplined Bible-reading pattern and constantly-evolving prayer lists. This means that there is a reasonable foundation. – Duncan, India
I worked through a formal exercise on spiritual temperaments. I understand I am an “activist” and feel spiritually alive whilst doing work, so good work in itself feeds my heart. I have a strong traditional temperament (I like listening to old hymns with deep truths), and a contemplative emphasis too, I enjoy practicing silence, even for 10 minutes, when I can. – MH, Asia
Doing all possible to maintain intimacy with God through prayer, Bible study, reading and meditation maintains my spiritual health. I use the Character First Pocket Guide (a collection of 49 character qualities from the scriptures) to check how I’m doing in my character development and areas that may need immediate attention. – Henry, South Africa
Lectio Divina is one practice that has helped me stay in a place of relative health. You can learn more about this ancient discipline online but the gist of “divine reading” is that rather than just read through your passage for the day, you read until God speaks to you. Then you camp on that passage and suck the marrow out of it in a manner prescribed by the old spiritual masters. – Mike Baer, USA
2. Keep it Fresh
As important as routine is, it is also important to find new and creative ways to connect with the Lord, worship and be fed with His word, even in the face of time pressure and stress. Some of the BAMers we asked were in challenging circumstances with less than ideal access to Bible teaching or worship services and were turning to technology to help them. It’s not all about going high tech though, two of the BAMers mentioned that they’d found going back to a paper books and Bibles had refreshed their spiritual life!
- Are my current routines helping me or are they getting stale? Is it time to add something new?
- In what creative ways can I incorporate devotions, prayer or Bible teaching into my life?
For me it was important not to deny the reality of a stressful environment, but work with it. Audiobooks and teachings and podcasts of different kinds became essential. Getting spiritual nurturing while driving or jogging has become a life-line for me. – HS, Europe/Middle East
I have recently been reading a “secular” book called The Miracle Morning. It has given me some real practical tips on reclaiming my morning times for prayer, Bible reading and exercise. – M., Middle East
I have daily devotions which land in my inbox around lunchtime. I have two at the moment, which take about five minutes each to read, and come from different theological emphases, and so are stimulating. – MH, Asia
Sometimes I attend the fellowships available but a lot of the time I add a podcast from my favourite churches back home. This helps me connect with God in an easy and familiar way. – Jacob, Nepal
Walking! I used to run but my knees decided it was time to slow down a bit. The result is that, in addition to getting useful exercise, the discipline of walking helps me leave my desk, get out of my office, go outside and think. Thinking is another one. A discipline I have added to my life is Thinking Thursday. I literally set aside 2.5 hours in the morning, shut off all communications, and think. I daydream. I mind map. I wrestle with key questions. I think. – Mike Baer, USA
3. Rest and Refresh
Incorporating refreshing activities into life helped keep the BAMers spiritually refreshed. One aspect of this is having FUN – engaging in enjoyable pursuits that make you laugh, replenish you and help you forge meaningful connections with others! Another aspect to this is taking breaks, such as sabbath days or retreats, to rest and pursue spiritual refreshment.
- When life is very serious, what are the things that help me to be light-hearted and rejuvenated? Where is the fun?!
- How do I make breaks and retreats part of my regular pattern?
Doing things we love helps a lot, for instance I enjoy cooking and spending time with my son We watched a good portion of the Olympics together and it was good seeing my wife and kids cheering and following some of the athletes. God has giving many challenges and many opportunities as well. It’s a good thing we get to balance them for his glory. – Daniel, Haiti
Regular quality time with spouse and children is important: chatting, eating well, playing sports and games, having fun! – MH, Asia
My personal health is tied into how much energy I have so I need to be alone sometimes. At times I don’t feel like hanging out with locals because I need a small break. I think that’s okay and an honest thing to do instead of constantly being “on the field” the whole time and never letting yourself take a break. – Jacob, Nepal
We have had to take a strategic approach to getting breaks. Unlike others in our community, because of the nature of our work, we are not able to leave the country for 3 months, or take sabbaticals, or study leave. This last year my wife and I went along to four weekend retreats through the year, which focussed on spiritual renewal, understanding our calling etc.. – MH, Asia
I use the Daily Office throughout the day. I take a Sabbath weekly: I stop all work activity from Friday afternoon 4pm until (at least) Sunday morning. I have a spiritual retreat day once a month. – Liam, Australia
4. Walk with Others
A key that was mentioned by a significant number of practitioners, the corollary of the threat of isolation, is forming close relationships with others. Finding individuals or groups for accountability, encouragement and shared learning is a must-do for spiritual vitality.
- Who in my life am I willing to be vulnerable with and has the freedom to ask me challenging questions?
- How can I intentionally fight isolation?
Finding and participating in a healthy small group on a regular basis has meant so much to my spiritual health. Without a group that is constant and willing to be transparent, then everything gets hidden and burnout is much more likely. Having regular intentional spiritual conversations with someone I trust both locally and back home has been a positive habit while doing BAM. It’s been helpful to be intentional about setting up Skype calls to dig deep about how my heart is doing and what spiritual state I’m in currently. – Jacob, Nepal
I try and find myself in intimate accountable relationship(s): I ensure that there are people in my life who are close enough to ask me the more personal conversations regarding my faith walk. – Liam, Australia
It’s important to be open in conversations about what God is speaking to us and how we are doing spiritually. Not hiding or evading this topic, but addressing it head on and being honest. – James, Indonesia
I find keeping daily accountability with my spouse and children important, and monthly accountability with board members and mentors – Henry, South Africa
Deep time with others is key. Every month I host a gathering of 6 to 8 brothers from various spiritual backgrounds for an hour of open discussion. It is not a Bible study or prayer group. We do either. We talk. We discuss all manner of things from current events and seek to uncover a godly worldview on these things. – Mike Baer, USA
5. Take Courage in Your Calling
Emotions can be fickle, circumstances discouraging, business stressful, and although we cannot super-spiritualize the realities of operating a robust business, it is important to take courage from your sense of calling. Knowing God is leading you and that you are joining Him in work He has called you to is like a spiritual anchor in stormy times.
- Am I persevering in prayer based on God’s call and promises?
- Am I believing God?
- How are truths about God giving me spiritual and emotional fortitude?
We have lived in some very difficult circumstances and I have found that God’s grace is more than sufficient when we know we are in the center of his will. Our spiritual health will be the strongest, as God’s grace will be sufficient, when we walk and remain in the center of His will for our lives. His grace is more than sufficient for us our marriages, children, teams and those with us. Knowing that this is where God wanted us, not just made living there survivable, but as a family we were more than able to thrive. – James, Indonesia
Prayer, patience and perseverance! God’s work is spiritual and can only be done by prayer. You have to be resilient and very patient and able to act very fast when the opportunity happens. Many times we wanted to quit, but we learned that, as long as God doesn’t give us a new task, the old one is still valid. We learned that the mission is God’s, we just have to look for what he is doing and inviting us to participate. Of course we’ll work hard, very hard, but actually we are privileged spectators, seeing from the first row what God is doing. – Hans, Brazil/Angola
With special thanks to all the BAMers who took time to give us input for this series.
Jo Plummer is the Co-Chair of the BAM Global Think Tank and co-editor the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission. She has been developing resources for BAM since 2001 and currently serves as Editor of the Business as Mission website.
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