Pastors are the first responders for the spiritual well-being of a global community that has been deeply shaken.
Who is caring for our pastors in this hour on the earth? This question has been stirring in my heart and infusing me with desire to offer soul strengthening to these heroic men and women being asked to serve, lead, innovate, and problem-solve in unprecedented ways.
Appreciating the extreme value of your time as a pastor, I’ve created brief vignettes that’ll give just a sneak peak into some of what I’ve curated and distilled over twenty years of relentlessly pursuing the recovery of the ancient path. It is my deep hope that this message, Becoming a King, will provide you with soul strengthening that will, in time, overflow into the lives of those entrusted to your care.
Serving as a guest teaching pastor is a constant reminder to me of the profound need to prioritize care for our pastors. At the conclusion of this blog, you’ll find a link to an exclusive pastors’ gathering I recently hosted as an investment of soul care for you and this courageous global community of like-hearted leaders.
When can you entrust a man with power?
Twenty years ago, driving along a mountain valley and returning from an adventure, John Eldredge, author of Wild at Heart once said to me, “The great problem of the earth and the great aim of the masculine journey boil down to this: when can you trust a man with power?”
I was a young man looking to recover the most important thing. At the time, looking around me as well as within, what I mostly saw was evidence of men being entrusted with power and it bringing harm to themselves and others. Every boy knows he was made to be powerful. As an acorn carries the blueprint of the oak tree, so the heart of every boy holds the possibility of becoming a good and trustworthy king. Yet often headlines confirm what we know from our own stories: the anguished consequences of the mishandling of power. Is there a path to becoming the kind of whole-hearted man who can be entrusted with power and have it turn out for good?
Masculinity is in need of restoration. But what is the way, and how can we find it? Twenty years ago I set out on pilgrimage to recover the answer to that question. Becoming a King, as a book, and a small group and retreat video and study guide, was the fruit of that quest. What if there was an ancient path and process, newly recovered that that restores the hearts of men? Here are the central narrow gates through which every man must venture if he is to become the kind of man—the kind of pastor—to whom God can entrust his kingdom:
Whatever else we encounter when we engage the life of Jesus, we encounter a person who is living fully as a son. Sonship is the truest state of being. It is the epicenter of Jesus’ life and it is the epicenter of ours. And only from an ongoing experience of sonship can we bring our strength—rather than our question—to the world.
If we live from an ever-expanding reservoir of sonship as our primary identity, we will become the kind of person that can prevail in any circumstances, no matter what the cost. And even more, we will recover the lost treasure of deep and lasting joy. It was said by George MacDonald, “Since we are the sons of God, we must become the sons of God.” How will we become the sons that we are intended to be?
Terry Pearce once said, “There are many people who think they want to be matadors, only to find themselves in the ring with 2,000 pounds of bull bearing down on them, and then discover that what they really wanted was to wear the tight pants and hear the crowd roar.”
Who have I become? After the fall of man, Adam confesses, “I was afraid, because I was naked; so I hid.” Adam’s story is every man’s story. We have become who we are not.
We are haunted by fear of failure and the taunting of that which we find lacking within. In response to our terror, we form caricatures to help us deny our vulnerability and independently survive. Yet the self-protective man we have become is not the truest us. The truest reality of the masculine soul is that we are inheritors of original goodness, magnificently crafted in the image of God. As Jesus promised, from putting to death the false within a man, a greater life emerges. It is here we are welcomed to risk engaging in the extraordinary process of recovering an indestructible life, a life of ever-deepening union with God. A life worth living.
Who am I becoming? It was G. K. Chesterton who said, We are all under the same mental calamity; we have all forgotten our names. We have all forgotten what we really are.
What if in the details of our image-bearing we have been formed and forged as a unique masterpiece? What if we have a destiny to reflect aspects of God’s heart that no one else exactly reflects, a destiny to offer a unique strength to our community and beyond? In the book of Revelation, Saint John describes the vision of a white stone with a new name written upon it, a true name from God, a name that expresses the totality of who we are, before and beyond this age of history. Through recovering our Name, we can shift from withering in the angst of our unvalidated soul to recovering a true and genuine strength to bring to the world.
To become a generalist is to restore the capacity to do real things and handle real things, to become the kind of man who can handle himself in any and every situation, whether fixing a broken toilet or helping mend a broken heart.
Far from a caricature, the generalist brings skill and harnessed strength to meet the world’s needs. Instead of corrupted power or learned helplessness, the generalist brings humility and confident skill.
And in all things, the restored generalist brings life and not harm. Where do you feel uncomfortable, week and uninitiated, as a man? Through becoming a generalist, we recover essential agency with real things and take one more step toward becoming a trustworthy king.
Without great wars, there are no great generals. Our God is indeed a warrior, leading angel armies in great victories through the ages. Let us not forget, “The Lord is a warrior, the Lord is his name.” It is as warriors that we bring a central expression of the heart of God to a world in desperate need. Since the fall of man, an undercurrent has been pulling toward passivity, fear, and even disdain for the warrior. God knows the damage that has occurred to so many because of the warrior gone wrong. And yet, the path to becoming the kind of king to whom God can entrust his kingdom must include the process of cultivating the warrior-heart of God, in the heart of a man. One key to recovering the ancient path is to learn courage. To become the kind of person who “drinks life like water and death like wine.” A defender of the defenseless. The kind of warrior and the kind of king who can spend himself in a worthy cause and is willing to die a thousand deaths on behalf of those entrusted to his care. It is this deep warrior ethic that must be recovered if a man is to mature into his intended place in God’s kingdom.
The restoration of the masculine soul necessitates identifying and restoring a habitat, a particular lifestyle, in which we can thrive. By recovering a habitat that offers favorable growing conditions, the action of God joins with our human effort to produce supernatural results. As pictured in Jesus’ parable of the Generous Sower and the Good Soil, when Heaven’s power meets human effort, we can recover a life where the fruit of joy and impact is multiplied 30-, 60-, even 100-fold. How do we cultivate a habitat in which our souls can thrive? King Solomon said, “Wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.” Wisdom reminds us there is always at every moment of every day a fresh narrow gate being made available for us to recover the path to life. But it is only through fierce intentionality and cultivating a habitat that has soulful integrity that we can weather the storms and thrive in a world that has in many ways come unhinged.
What are you practicing?
Our decades are formed by our days, and our days are forged by practices. The question is not if we are disciples (or apprentices), but rather, whose apprentice are we? Make no mistake, we have become and are becoming people who are formed and forged by daily practices. Dallas Willard said, “You must arrange your days so that you are experiencing deep contentment, joy, and confidence in your everyday life with God.” We must recover a life arranged around practices of engagement, practices of abstinence, and personally unique practices that ensure our maturing into becoming wholehearted leaders whose roots reach deep into the river of life allow us to withstand drought and storm.
Our souls are designed to thrive only through relationship. What is the relational model for a decade of becoming? It’s been said, “The things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
We must begin by recovering our hidden life in God, the joyful intimacy available to us with the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit; from that hidden life, we move into an honest, heart-centered look at marriage, parenting and our unique expression of family. Then we explore finding like-hearted kings living in the same direction with whom to sign treaties. Finally, we recover the model of looking to the sages, older men whom we can ask for help and through whom we can experience the fathering heart of God.
Though every generation faces unprecedented challenges, every generation too shares unprecedented opportunity to recover the path to life. Jesus promises that our Good Father is winsomely at work. As we respond to his radical invitation to travel together on this ancient path of becoming, we too can become the kind of kings who so trust and rely on the authority of our Brother that even his great heart is astonished. It was Henry Varley who said, “The world has yet to see what God will do with and for and through and in and by the man who is fully consecrated to him.” There is a path and a process for us to become this kind of person.
I am passionate about helping you become the kind of pastors in whom God is glad to entrust more and more of the care of his people.
G.K. Chesterton once said every generation loses the Gospel and every generation is charged with its recovery. I’ve invested over two decades in recovering the lost treasure of the Gospel. It’s my joy to share it with you.
For the Kingdom,
Morgan Snyder serves on the Wild at Heart executive leadership team and for more than two decades has helped lead sold-out events around the globe alongside John and Stasi Eldredge. In 2010, he established BecomeGoodSoil.com, where he offers soul strengthening and connection for a fellowship of like-hearted men who are committed to becoming the kind of people to whom God can confidently entrust the care of his kingdom. Find out more at www.BecomeGoodSoil.com