By Jada Edwards

We are all called to lead in some area of our lives, and actually, the most important area we are called to lead in is ourselves. The way that we wrestle the tensions and realities around us significantly affect our souls, and we are so good at covering up that we never stop to take a health assessment of our souls.   

Many of us try looking on the outside to assess the health of our souls. You cannot assess the health of your soul by looking in the mirror, or by what people say about you, or how many followers you have, or by your popularity. 

You can’t even assess the health of your soul by the things that might not be going well. 

You must understand that:

  • It’s only what God says – only He can determine the health of our souls.
  • The Holy Spirit is the mirror – the conviction that tells you to go left, go right or sit here for a minute, understanding that every time you feel fatigue coming upon you or you are wrestling with worry, you are choosing the apathetic life over the abundant life. 

Some of us are not overtly dealing with depression and mental health (even though that is a significant issue for many), but we think, “life is fine, I’m okay and I will press through” when we clearly are not.  This is a disgrace to the cross of Christ.  Our savior died for us to have abundant, joyful, thriving lives and yet we are okay with mediocrity.  Even that indicates our souls are not healthy.

How do I begin to assess this?

Three Questions 

Matthew 11:28–30 (NAS): Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

  1.  Where are you looking?
    Jesus says “come to ME, look to me and me alone,” but we are looking everywhere else – at other peoples’ lives and today we might be looking at 25-30 different spiritual leaders online to give us some guidance and inspiration.  Others of us are looking to ourselves, to positive energy and mantras.
    Even though the question is metaphorical, our physical eyes will tell us where we are looking.  What am I looking at on my device?  Am I constantly checking my bank account?  Am I always looking in the mirror?  What are the things that are consuming my energy?
    Where I am looking is going to determine my direction and will certainly be an indicator of my rest.  Where you are looking determines where you are headed.  Look to Jesus and Jesus alone
    Could your soul be fatigued and without rest because you are looking in all the wrong places?
  2. What are you lifting?
    Jesus says take up MY yoke. There is something that we must do – first, we COME, and we follow him then he says now take up MY yoke.  A yoke allows beasts of burden to plow fields and labor and to stay on course.  When Jesus says “take up my yoke” he’s talking about 2 things:
       – Submit to His authority, because in His authority there is safety. There is safety in the submission of authority because there is someone who knows where they are going, they’ve been down this road and know exactly what is planned out for us.  This is not a passive pursuit, it’s ACTIVE you have to take on the yoke of Jesus.
       – Take on the work that He has for us, because when we take on the work that He gives us, He is with us
    . You will not find soul rest if you have an entrepreneurial spirit.  Its great in the business world, but we are watching a generation with an entrepreneurial, independent spirit who have many connections, but not deep community.  Jesus says if you want rest, you must be dependent and attached to Him. We like to have Jesus as an option when other things don’t work out, but we must instead be yoked, submitted and dependent on Jesus.
    Jesus is not talking about being subscribed to Him, He’s talking about being submitted to Him.  We subscribe to a lot of things that we aren’t saturated with.  We get emails every week telling us what is going on and it’s easy to pay a few dollars a month to be subscribed, but that doesn’t mean you are saturated with the thing.
    Jesus wants you to be a follower, not on the fringe.
  3. Who are you learning from?
    Jesus says, “take my yoke and LEARN of me.”
    “You need to grow in me, know me, and be my disciple.”
    One of our challenges is that we have been spoiled by the gathering.  The gathering has been someone in the kitchen, making the meal, serving up the meal, putting the meal on the fork, and putting it in your mouth.  Now that we aren’t at that table anymore, we have to feed ourselves.
    “You on your own,” Jesus says, “are supposed to be learning of me.”  Sunday dinner isn’t the only time that you should be eating, which is why your soul is malnourished. You don’t know how to feed yourself, and you are trying to make do.  Jesus says, “you have to grow in me, learn of me and be my disciple.” This is progressive and continuous.
    This is why it’s so important for us to take ownership of our rest.  We think that God is going to part the clouds, fix our situations, then we will find rest. That is not what He said.  There are two things happening in these verses that we need to understand:
       – There is a rest that He gives. Come to me, if you are weary, burdened or heavy laden.  This is a salvific rest, we couldn’t do it on our own.  God will give you the rest you need because God has justified you.
       – There is a rest that, after you have taken up his yoke and learned of him, you will find.  If you want to rest every day you have to do something, you have to take and lift and learn.  This satisfying rest gives us reprieve for our souls.
    One rest is given, the other is found.  In found rest we find the completion of a satisfied life.
    Instead of refreshing your social media feed, it might be time to refresh your soul.
    Instead of replaying the worries and the headlines in your mind and the news that may not be true, it might be time to replay the truth of God.
    Instead of choosing parties and political affiliations and being more aligned to that than you are yoked with Jesus, it might be time for a soul refreshment.
    A leader with a weary soul cannot lead him or herself, and certainly cannot lead anyone else.