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The spiritual health and well-being of Salvationists, employees, volunteers and the people we serve is one of the Canada and Bermuda Territory’s seven strategic priorities.
In Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul, Lance Witt writes, “If you want to know the health of an organization look at the health of its leaders.” Earlier this year, we invited officers and leaders across the territory to participate in an online survey to gauge their spiritual health.
The survey was designed by the spiritual life development and pastoral care departments and conducted by Andrew Grenville, a 30-year research veteran. Offered in both English and French, the 18-question survey was sent by email to 800 officers and leaders. A total of 527 responded.
Two themes differentiated people: overall spiritual health and perceptions of how supported or alone they were. Graphing the results identified four groups:
- Healthy and supported (28%)
- Healthy but stretched (23%)
- Spiritually thirsty but supported (30%)
- Spiritually thirsty and lonely (18%)
In May 2016, two sessions at the territorial leaders’ conference focused on spiritual health. In the first session, Andrew Grenville shared the results of the spiritual health survey. In the second session, leaders were given an opportunity to discuss the results in small groups and come up with three concrete actions to strengthen the spiritual health of officers and leaders. Here are their suggestions:
- Share the results of the study.
- Promote a culture of health and wellness. Communicate common definitions of spiritual, physical, mental, relational and emotional health, and prioritize healthy practices. Acknowledge that all officers and leaders can incorporate changes to increase health and well-being.
- Acknowledge that feelings of inadequacy are normal when doing kingdom work. No one is adequate on their own (see John 15:5). We need divine and human support.
- Implement systems to support health and wellness, such as a mentorship program for lieutenants, the Refocus Conference for officers who have served for more than 20 years, the Growing Healthy Churches Program, gym memberships.
- Explore ways to make administrative systems more intuitive and continue to provide coaching, education and support to reduce stress related to administration.
- Encourage officers and leaders to utilize resources currently offered: spiritual direction, grace weekends for corps officers, flex hours, spiritual retreat days, courses, conferences.
- Prioritize and model the practice of Sabbath. Implement The Salvation Army international position statement related to Sabbath.
- Teach and model the importance of practising spiritual disciplines to create space for God to renew, refresh and replenish: solitude, slowing down, meditation, mindfulness, retreats, celebration…
- Promote “being” vs. “doing.” Explore how we can celebrate “being” in an organization known for “doing.”
- Support and celebrate the use of a calendar to prioritize health. Carving out time for God, Sabbath, work, relationships, exercise, recreation, hobbies, retreats, conferences.