In college, I was part of an amazing college ministry that changed my life. I came to college hell bent on getting the best education possible, maximizing on all of the research opportunities and social clubs that I could find. I joined the College of Education student council (a great way to meet people in my field!). I became a peer mentor for women with eating disorders (as, ironically, I was still suffering through my own). I began helping out with some research in a science lab (I washed test tubes day in and day out. Ugh. I soon changed my major after this experience). I also joined a christian student organization next door to my dorm.
I think I mostly accidentally joined it. I had no intentions of seeking out a college ministry to be a part of, although I had been a leader of my high school bible club (POG, which stood for People of God. Anyone else remember those little discs that were all the rage? Yep, pogs! We were so clever.) and had been quite active in my youth group. Some of the first girls I met when I moved into that dorm as a scared Freshmen were leaders in the ministry. They invited me to one of the worship gatherings, and, eager to make friends, I said yes.
It was here in this ministry that I really began to understand the importance of being intentional about the way I lived my life. During my junior year, my boyfriend (now husband) and I led a co-ed Bible study we called Whole Life Worship. It was inspired by 1 Corinthians 10:31:
31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
We had the crazy idea that what we did mattered- even the little things. What began as something that was probably a little over the top (we were doing some serious analyzing of our every waking minute) ended up being deeply transformational to those in our group. Years later, I’d meet up with some of my friends who were in the study with us, and our voices would hush a little as we talked about the crazy transformation the Spirit did in us as we began to really pay attention to our lives. We could never figure out what about that study created such a huge life change in us.
What I know now is that we were making ourselves open and available to God, and He used that time to mold us and shape us into men and women that looked more like Christ.
So, soul shaping, or spiritual formation, is pretty simple to define. It’s the process through which God transforms our inner selves, our souls, to become more like Christ. But how exactly that all happens? That’s a different story…
To read more about what spiritual formation is, I recommend the book, Invitation to the Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation by M. Robert Mulholland Jr (IVP).