Over the years, I have had the opportunity to speak to clergy from a variety of Christian denominations. Early on, it came as a surprise to me that members of the clergy sometimes find themselves at a loss about how to add inspiration to their sermons, how to best counsel their lay leaders, and how to best utilize the seniors in their congregations. I came to realize that a pastor is, first and foremost, a human being. As such, he inevitably experiences times when his well of wisdom and inspiration run dry. The more conversations I had with clergy members, the more I came to understand that they use a variety of tools to help fill and enhance their wells of spirituality - including reading books, attending retreats, and writing in journals.
Books are probably the single most important source of inspiration to members of the clergy. In addition to the Bible, a pastor often turns to both the writings of great theologians and books written by present day authors who discuss the human condition and the means by which we can find comfort and solace. Biblical references might give a pastor the foundation of his sermons, but books by psychologists, sociologists, and Christian authors can inspire him to enhance his sermons with material that is relevant to the lives of his congregants. The spiritual challenges faced by today's church members - whether they're just entering college or just entering retirement - may have roots in ancient times, but may be affected by the complexities inherent in our culture of globalization.
Writing is often a wonderful resource for those people - whether they're clergy members or lay leaders - who find that their spiritual wells are running low. I've spoken to people who use journals to reflect upon Scriptural verses, and who find that writing about the meaning of a certain passage puts them back in touch with their spiritual core. Others write stories of their own spiritual awakenings, and in turn inspire others to reach to God for clarity and insight. Still others use writing as a means of revealing to themselves how the hand of God works in their everyday lives. By reflecting on one's day and understanding the points at which faith influenced choices, one can understand how God provides enrichment in their lives.
Reading books and writing are but two ways to keep one's spiritual well brimming with hopefulness and good will. Yet, both are paths to leading a fulfilled life and being able to communicate with others along the way.