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Blog: Wellness Wednesday – Book Review Of “Replenish” by Lance Witt

Wellness Wednesday – Book Review Of “Replenish” by Lance Witt

For this week’s Wellness Wednesday, we are going to do something a little different – a book review. Over the Christmas break, I spent some time focusing on my spiritual wellness. Besides spending in-depth time meditating on God’s Word and extended times in prayer, I read a book recommended by my future daughter-in-law, Elania. The book is entitled “Replenish” and was written by Lance Witt. It was assigned as required reading in one of Elania’s DCE classes at Concordia, Irvine. Having just finished reading the book, I am so glad I read it as well, as it was exactly what my soul needed to hear.  Perhaps it might be precisely what your soul needs to hear as well.

The premise of this book is that so often in ministry circles, there is a strong focus on leadership and performance. This emphasis on leadership is not a wrong focus, as there are many helpful resources, both within the Church and outside, that can help us in full-time ministry be more effective leaders in our callings in ministry. However, Lance points out that there has developed a sort of idolatry of leadership by many within the Church and a corresponding lack of focus on spiritual health. As a result, there is a spiritual health crisis among many pastors and church workers today, born out not only in some of the statistics he shares in his book but also in some recent statistics by Barna. Here are just a few that Lance shares:

  • 1,500 pastors leave the ministry permanently each month in U.S.
  • 80% of pastors and 85% of their spouses feel discouraged in their roles
  • 70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor
  • Over 50% of pastors are so discouraged they would leave the ministry if they could but have no other way of making a living
  • Over 50% of pastors’ wives feel that their husbands entering ministry was the most destructive thing to ever happen to their families
  • 30% of pastors said they had either been in an ongoing affair or had a one-time sexual encounter with a parishoner
  • 71% of pastors stated they were burned out, and they battled depression beyond fatigue on a weekly and even a daily basis
  • One out of every ten ministers will actually retire as a minister

Does any of this sound familiar? Lance sums up this current spiritual state of affairs of ministry leaders by writing, “We have neglected the fact that a pastor’s greatest tool is a healthy soul. Our concentration on skill and technique and strategy has resulted in deemphasizing the interior life. The outcome is an increasing number of men and women leading our churches who are emotionally empty and spiritually dry.” While doing is essential in fulfilling our ministry responsibilities as part of our ministry vocations, this book emphasizes the importance of focusing on our being; that our being needs to proceed with our doing if we are going to be healthy and effective ministry leaders. Ultimately, a healthy soul is a significant contributing factor leading to healthy ministries and healthy congregations.

One of the analogies Lance shared in this book that caused me to take an honest look at my own spiritual wellness was his recounting the story of the tragic plane crash involving legendary golfer Payne Stewart on Oct 25th, 1999. After not responding to air traffic control, Air Force and Air National Guard jets were scrambled to investigate. They found a plane speeding through the air on autopilot with the window frozen over. Tragically, sometime before, the plane lost cabin pressure, resulting in the deaths of Stewart along with four others due to oxygen deficiency within minutes. Ultimately, the aircraft crashed into a field near a small town in north-central South Dakota. 

Lance then asks how many people in ministry are flying a million miles an hour, consumed by the busyness of ministry, yet inside, they are spiritually dead. Ultimately, one can only go on for so long in ministry in this spiritual condition before the inevitable crash. This analogy caused me to confront the frantic pace of ministry that had defined my life for the last six months, revealing my soul’s desperate need to slow down to abide with Jesus. While perhaps my spiritual health was not dead, the spiritual oxygen was getting pretty low. How about you?

Throughout the book “Repleshish,” Lance walks the reader through four sections focusing on how we can develop and lead from a healthy soul: 

  1. De-Toxing Your Soul – Exploring some soul-endangering toxins inherent in contemporary ministry
  2. Start Here . . . Start Now – An overview of some baby steps for beginning to pay attention to your soul
  3. Sustaining A Lifetime Of Health – Focusing on habits and practices that can build a lifetime of health
  4. Building Healthy Teams – Ideas for creating a healthy leadership culture

If you are looking for a book to help you not only take a deep dive in creating some awareness regarding the spiritual condition of your soul but also helpful ideas for incorporating healthy spiritual practice into your daily life, ministry, and leadership teams, I highly recommend you take a read – you won’t be disappointed! Also, know that as you seek to breathe some life back into your soul, you don’t have to do it alone. Reach out to me, and let’s talk about the benefits of engaging one of our SED Coaching Network certified coaches who can partner with you as a confidential creative think partner to help you develop some goals and an empowerment plan to improve your spiritual health.