Most people who know me know by now that I am an ordained minister. I’ve been in church most of my life, and I’ve been doing something in ministry since my earliest memories: singing on the children’s choir, reciting Easter speeches, being a Junior Usher and door greeter, leading a praise and worship, eventually teaching bible studies, being an “armor-bearer” (someone who was sort of like a personal assistant the pastor and the pastor’s family), and preaching. I usually did all of these things alongside going to school and/or working full-time. Oh, I also prayed for people, visited folks who were sick, and often found myself being a listening ear to others’ problems long before I became a licensed therapist. To say that I worked in the church is an understatement. I used to believe that I needed to “stay prayed up” to keep up with all of these ministry demands while functioning in the world. Needless to say, I often felt empty inside and in need of relief for myself. I did all the things that I thought were required of a good Christian person: I prayed A LOT, I studied the bible A LOT, I fasted sometimes (I love food A LOT so that one was hard), and I went to church A LOT. My aim was to make sure I had enough Spirit in my soul’s arsenal to do the spiritual/ministry work. This went on for years until I realized that all of my spiritual practices were performative. Although I have genuine love and respect for the Transcendent, I was doing spiritual things just so I could be able to do “spiritual work.” However, spirituality is not work. It is a way of being that is not about performing acts or being good at being good.
True spirituality is non-performative. It is a regular routine, a discipline, a practice of sitting with God and Self for the purpose of being filled. It is a regular practice of being filled for abundant living and not just something you do to get a quick fix and possibly pour into others.
I sometimes use the example of physical health. One shouldn’t exercise just to lose weight. One should exercise regularly for wellness so the body can function properly. The same applies to spirituality. We need to find and engage practices (or “soul-exercises” as I like to call them) that serve the purpose of working our spiritual muscles for our well being. Spirituality should not be performative, but rather a prioritized expression of our inward reality of connectedness to the Divine, Self and Others. Anything that comes out of that connectedness and inner-fulfillment is just icing on the cake.
Prioritizing spirituality means that you are tending to your soul-needs before you hit a place of inner-deficit. Your pursuit of spiritual fulfillment is not a reaction to a void or vacuum within you, but instead it is a thoughtful response to the understanding that your spirituality is crucial to your wellness. It is a thoughtful and genuine embrace that your core beliefs, values, and sense of purpose and meaning must be nurtured and cultivated like anything else of importance to you.
There are some of us who always serve, always give, and always seek to help others. Some of us try to fill our metaphorical cups just so we can pour out the good stuff for others. However, the Divine wants more for us. The Divine wants us to be filled JUST BECAUSE. That’s spirituality. It’s not about being good for others. It’s about being your best Self for you, and then others can benefit from the overflow of your fullness. Give and serve from your abundance, not out of need or lack or even obligation.