We will be using this page to share resources – both ours and others.  A full list of what we have both written is available here: and

Tools for Reflective Ministry SPCK has lots of practical exercises in.

Check out the Grove Youth Series which Paul initiated and we are both involved with along with an excellent editorial group.  The booklets we have written are on:

Sustaining Your Spirituality (where we first talked about marker posts and shelters) – available to buy here from Grove Books (ebook also available)


Y 2 Sustaining Your Spirituality

A basic examen process

  1. It is probably best to keep a journal, some notes / record of your thoughts and observations. What will begin to emerge will be patterns, a flow, which will hopefully point out a consistency to what brings you life or death. More insight comes the more often you do the exercise, as you will draw on different activities, experiences, days, weeks, moods etc.


  1. Take time, in a quiet place with no distractions, to sit and reflect on your past day / week / month or other period. Allow at least twenty minutes for the process, it may take longer depending on how far in time you are going back.


  1. Ask yourself the questions below or other questions that seem relevant. Be honest with your self; do not judge what comes to mind. Do not sift out what you think is good or bad.  Accept the thoughts, jot them down and sit with them and see if they reflect you and your truest feelings.


  • Where / when did you find consolation / joy / life or feel alive / recharged / contentment?


  • Where / when did you find desolation / death / draining / despair / frustration / sorrow?


  1. Review the answers to these questions. Where are the most powerful memories / feelings? What were you doing?  Who were you with? Was there a single event that comes to mind when you ask the questions?   What contexts are you exploring – relationship with God, self or others?

Is there any action you need to take out of this reflection? (Remember that it is advised not to change previous decisions when in a time of desolation)


  1. As you do this over a few days, weeks, months, ask yourself:

Do any patterns emerge?  Are there any constants? Is any change being called for?  What might this say about how I might best serve God?

Discerning calling


This is a model that Paul has developed over the years in his vocational work.  One of the things we want to do with our blog is share some of the resources others have found helpful…

Passion:What brings you life?What gets you out of bed in the morning?What liberates your spirit? Pain:What breaks your heart?What do you think breaks God’s heart?
Prophetic obedience:‘Not my will be done but yours’What do you hear God telling you to do?Scripture and words given or spoken over you Personality:Loving and knowing who you are

  • What are you good at?
  • What are you proudest of achieving?
  • Do what only you can do
  • What do you have that others cannot give you?
  • Values:   What is important to you?


  • Inclusive
  • Hold in tension
  • Interaction
  • Honouring all
  • Critiquing and sharpening each other
  • Trinitarian:  Each facet is whole in and of its self
  • Bring them all together  


  • Fruitfulness – What has gone well for you in the past?
  • Faithfulness – What do you have to do to be you? Compelling constant
  • Home –  Where and when do you most feel at home, belong?
  • Comfortable in your own skin
  • Synergy – When the sun and moons gravitational pulls upon the earth all line up
  • Not driven – You are more than your work

Contexts for reflection:      theological, geographical, sociological, demographic…

If you could sum up your calling in a phrase or sentence what would that be?  What is your core purpose?

Marker posts and shelters 

This is the text of a short talk Sally gave on marker posts and shelters which gives more of an idea of the core idea behind our blog title:

Marker posts and shelters (download here)

What do I mean?

One of my passions is helping people identify and develop a sustainable lifestyle for ministry.  However, as in many areas of life, I need to keep revisiting my own advice.

I love the Message version of  Isaiah 2.3 ‘He’ll show us the way he works so we can live the way we’re made’ –  when I am too busy it doesn’t feel like I am living the way I was made.  One ways I try to respond to this is by having a rule of life.  The problem with that idea for me is the word ‘rule’.  Although the word’s roots are more about measurement – like a ruler, I tend to hear the word rules like this (Handbook of Golf Rules) and it feels like if I break a rule then there is a penalty.  And while that is usually true, it’s not a very motivational concept for me so I tend to talk about marker posts and shelters and a rhythm of life.

Where does the idea come from?

If you have ever walked the Pilgrim’s Way across to Holy Island in Northumbria, you will have followed the posts which keep you on the right track. You will have seen the signs that warn you to only cross when safe.  There are also shelters at regular intervals, which give protection should you get cut off when the tide comes in (or which you can use intentionally if you let the coastguard know in advance) but which also give a great view across the coastline.  I have found It helpful to use this imagery to think about what marker posts and shelters we need in our lives to keep our destination in sight, to keep us safe and to help us on our pilgrimage.

Where do I begin?

One place to begin can be our values as these can shape what our pattern might be, what some of the marker posts and shelters will be for us. What is important to you and needs to be reflected in the shelters and marker posts?  If I think of some of my values they include seeing God in the everyday, offering support and hospitality to others, having a sacred space at home, longevity in ministry, God’s bias to the poor…

What is involved?

I  use five headings for my rhythm of life – relationships, rest and recreation, work and ministry, stewardship, home and family and then different time frames – daily, weekly, monthly, annually, seasonally.  I try to develop a pattern that is something I can live with – not over-ambitious as I would be de-motivated if I kept not meeting the goal I had set myself.  I also try to be holistic in what I plan and consider the whole of my life.  A rhythm of life should be a guide, not a constraint and liberating not oppressing.  My experience is that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak sometimes but that having marker posts and shelters helps me to maintain a relationship with God and a sustainable lifestyle that undergirds everything else that I do.

 What do you think?

What sustains you in your life and ministry?

What are your marker posts and shelters?

A sample completed grid:

Area Daily Weekly Monthly Annually Seasonally
Relationships with God, others and myself Connect with GodRead Bible passageText or email a friend Ring familyJournalDo examenTime of intercession or soaking prayer See prayer partnerContact someone I don’t see regularlyMeet mentor or mentee RetreatVisit friends who have moved away See spiritual directorOffer support to othersDo something for Lent
Rest and recreation, relax and recharge Get enough sleep!Unwind for at least 15 minutes Go for a long walkRead the Sunday papersHave a Sabbath day Have someone round for a meal Do something special on birthdays and anniversariesTwo week holiday Celebrate festivals or other special eventsWeekend away
Youth work/ service Pray for the young people Watch/listen to something that keeps me in touch with youth culture Read a relevant magazineFollow up a young person haven’t seen for a while Go to a conference for some input Get some supervisionReview and plan the work
Stewardship Use fairly traded tea and coffee Recycle papers etcWalk somewhere instead of using the car Sponsor a childGive to my church Review lifestyle and commitments Grow my own vegMake my own cards
Work and home life Look for God in the everydayPay someone a compliment Do a random act of kindness for someone Plan diary for the next month Spring cleanOrganize carol singing Review work/life balance

A fuller version of this short talk is in my Grove Youth Series Booklet Sustaining Your Spirituality.

An autumn tree…

A reflection to use on your own or in a group…

Look at the roots of the tree…who and what has given you nourishment in your life? Who and what are roots you in times of change or difficulty?

Look at the trunk…what are your strengths?

Look at the leaves… what is dying in your life now? What do you need to let go of?

Look at the bark… who or what comforts and protects you?

Look for the buds… what is new in your life? What is your hope?


Multi-faceted Life Giving Relationships

These are some relationships that will enrich both your work and private life.  Points to remember

  • Multiple roles  may be found in the same person
  • They maybe reciprocal relationships
  • We have life cycles of relationships

Types of relationships we may benefit from having in our lives


Lifter of spirits

Someone who encourages you, makes you feel better by just being with them.



A developer and supporter in your field, someone with more experience than you. Trainer, coach, give or encourage opportunities, someone who is secure for you to succeed more than them.


Got your back

Someone at work who looks out for you, mediates, advocates on your behalf…


Safety net

A person who will catch you when you fall. You know they will be there for you.


Critical friend

Someone who will be honest with you even when it hurts or is difficult to hear.


Sounding board / dream catcher

Someone who you can share your ideas with no matter how crazy they are.  They will not think you are getting too big for your boots, above yourself, too grandiose.


Non managerial / clinical supervision

A person outside of your department (or sometimes outside the employer) that you can discuss your work issues with.


Play friend

Someone you can have fun with, let your hair down, relax with.


Soul friend

Someone you can talk about the deep meaningful questions of life with and for them to ask challenging personal questions of you.  Has your holistic life on the agenda.


Community of practice

A group of peers in your field who you can meet with to discuss and develop your area of work without a need to big yourself up or be cautious with.


Others (feel free to add your own)

Reflection space

  • Do I want these relationships?
  •  Do I have these relationships?
  • How might I go about establishing them?
  •  Who might I ask?
  • Think about how you might have / be these to other people






Other models

Who’s your Nathan?  You need an Editor

Who’s your Jonathan?  You need a true friend

Who’s your Jethro?   You need a butt-kicker

Who’s your Timothy?   You need a protégé

Who’s your Barnabus?  You need an encourager

Who’s your Peter / Paul?  You need a Yoda.

Who’s your  Deborah? You need a back cover

Who’s your Zacchaeus?  You need a reject

Who’s your Rhona?  You need a lttle one

Who are your VIP’s?  You need a Lydia and Lazarus, rich and poor

Where is your Jerusalem? You need a place

The invisible 12th.  You need the Paraclete.                            11 Leonard Sweet. David Cook  Eastbourne  2008



Intensive             1 Discipler

2 Spiritual guide

3. coach

Occasional            4. Counsellor

5. Teacher

6. Sponsor

Passive                 7. Model

Contemporary / Historical


Connecting.   PD Stanley & JR Clinton Navpress  Colorado Springs 1992





  • Consult God and your friends and those you      respect.  Be prayerful and      reflective.
  • Be pro and reactive with these      relationships.  Invite people to      fulfil these relationships
  • Do a short term trial
  • Discuss and agree confidentiality
  • Have realistic expectations
  • Do not expect all these to be met by your      partner if you have one
  • Do try to be rescued or try to rescue      others
  • It is good and healthy to be accountable
  • Think about your holistic needs: mental,      physical, spiritual, professional, emotional,personal
  • Plan, don’t just wait for them to happen.
  • There will be a blur and overlapping      between these relationships
  • Don’t be too proud to ask or too humble to      offer


  Who you have or could ask.. Who you could offer this to…
Lifter of spirits    
Got your back    
Safety net    
Critical friend    
Sounding board / dream catcher    
Non managerial / clinical   supervision    
Play friend    
Soul friend    
Community of practice    

Paul Nash MCYM


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