What keeps us from flourishing in our spiritual lives is a neglect of the inner life of the soul. And more and more today, this neglect is driven by our ambition to accomplish something big outside ourselves. We live in a society that pressures us to achieve professionally, socially, and through the constant acquisition of material possessions. Drawing on a wide range of sources including scripture, church history, psychology, and neuroscience, as well as a rich variety of stories from his own life, Ken Shigematsu demonstrates how the gospel redeems our desires and reorders our lives. He offers fresh perspective on how certain spiritual practices help orient our lives so that our souls can flourish in the midst of a demanding, competitive society. And he concludes with a liberating and counter-cultural definition of true greatness.
This book will appeal to anyone who longs to experience a deeper relationship with Christ in the midst of the daily pressures to succeed, as well as to those on the borderlands of faith seeking to transcend the human tendency to define ourselves by our production and success.
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About the Author
Ken Shigematsu is the Senior Pastor of Tenth Church in Vancouver, BC, one of the largest and most diverse city-center churches in Canada. He is the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal awarded to Canadians in recognition for their outstanding contribution to the country. Before entering pastoral ministry, he worked for the Sony Corporation in Tokyo and draws on both eastern and western perspectives in writing and speaking. Ken lives in Vancouver with his wife, Sakiko, and their son, Joey.
Table of Contents
Foreword Ann Voskamp 9
Introduction: Struggling with My Status 15
Part 1 The Two "Adams" in Every Soul
Chapter 1 The Divided Self 23
Chapter 2 The Whole Self 33
Chapter 3 Spiritual Practices 55
Part 2 The Survival Habits of the Soul
Chapter 4 Meditation: Listening to the Music of Heaven 73
Chapter 5 Sabbath: The Rhythm of Resistance 91
Chapter 6 Gratitude: Savoring God's Gifts 109
Chapter 7 Simple Abundance: Why Less Is More 127
Chapter 8 Servanthood; Pouring Ourselves Out for Others 145
Chapter 9 Friendship: The Art of Mutual Encouragement 159
Chapter 10 Vocation: Discerning Our Sacred Calling 177
Chapter 11 Redefining Greatness 195
Epilogue: The Yoke of God's Love 207
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Streams of living water flow from the pages of this book. Ken, as a skillful soul guide, helps the reader look at key aspects of what it means to live for God's approval. Survival Guide for the Soul is inspirational, practical, and life changing. Allow God to use this book to convict, motivate, and transform you through the renewing of your mind.
God’s Love Rediscovered: A Review of “Survival Guide for the Soul” by Ken Shigematsu The book, Survival Guide for the Soul by Ken Shigematsu, almost immediately struck a raw nerve in me. Within the first 2 chapters, Ken brings to the surface this ongoing duel between what he calls “my striving self’ and “my soulful self.” To put things in context, I am a wife, mother of 2, and a career person putting in at least 60 hours of work per week. Like most people in my situation, I engage in a tug-of-war of priorities that Ken so vividly describes in his book. For example, sending that one last work email and consequently buying take-out versus dropping everything by 5pm to prepare a home-cooked meal and having enough family time. Almost always, I find that it is my “striving self” that wins the tug-of-war. And why is that? Ken goes on to explain the reasons why I so easily give in to my striving self. My striving self gets rewarded materially and psychologically. This satisfies my deep need for achievement and overrides any negative feelings of “not enoughness.” Ken then beautifully describes how the reality of God’s love could help me overcome my feelings of inadequacy and self-rejection that quite often drive my striving self over the cliff. Certainly, I have known and declared of God’s love for me even as a child. But this book made me realize that I have not embraced nor appropriated God’s love for me enough in a way that it could impact my priorities – even something as practical as whether I should send that one last work email or not. The next chapters delve into spiritual practices that Ken calls “the survival habits of the soul.” These are meditation, taking the Sabbath, being grateful, living simply, servanthood, friendship, and discerning our vocation. Through the example of Jesus in Scripture and stories of real people, Ken convincingly shows how each spiritual practice brings us closer to the experiential reality of God’s love and how this love could be meaningfully channeled towards our neighbors. Ken brings home the point that as we allow God’s love to permeate our whole being, our soulful selves are cultivated to bring out the best in our striving selves. So if you are like me who may have at one point been tempted to raise the white flag to this notion of “work-life balance,” this could be the book for you. You will be pleasantly surprised to realize that God’s love, like a treasure hiding in plain sight, could be rediscovered by you in a way that will give you the freedom to live meaningfully and productively in this competitive world.
Shigematsu wrote “Survival Guide for the Soul” at the time when he realized how much weight he had placed on his striving ambitions, till a point he lost the balance of his life. The book talks about balancing the two major aspects of humanity: an ambition side (Shigematsu calls it the “Striving Adam”) and a longing side (Shigematsu calls it the “Soulful Adam”). In order to live a fruitful and balanced life, Shigematsu invites readers to walk towards a harmony between the Striving Adam and the Soulful Adam. Moreover, Shigematsu reminds readers to “live out of a strong sense of self-identity rooted in a deep knowledge of God’s love and acceptance.” He says, “Our fundamental problem is not having too strong a sense of our self but [it is the] too weak a sense of self.” I totally agreed with what he says. I often find myself falls into the temptation of feeling rejected easily, rooted in my deep sense of ‘not good enough’ from my childhood experiences. The majority portion of the book guides readers to the how question, how to transform the internal message of “[I am] stupid, mistake, fraud, not enough, worthless, ugly and loser” to the Words of truth about us, “[I am] Beloved, Beautiful, Blessed.” Shigematsu, with a PhD in Spiritual Formation, humbly leads readers to several spiritual exercises in his book, in order to help readers to attune to God’s presence. He says, “we easily forget that we are deeply loved by our Maker. A rhythm of spiritual practices helps us remember to whom we belong and by whom we loved.” He quotes Richard Foster verse, “The [spiritual] disciplines allows us to place ourselves before God so He can transform us.” Therefore, the purpose of practicing spiritual disciplines, is not to ask God to love us more, but is to remind us how much God loves us. Shigematsu introduces the following spiritual disciplines in Part 2 of his book: Meditation, Sabbath, Gratitude, Simple Abundance, Servanthood, Friendship, Vocation, and Redefining Greatness. He quotes an interesting study on people with different temperaments and their preferred spiritual practices. He says 40 percent of believers in North America are Ignatian type in their spiritual practices, 38 percent are Franciscan type, 12 percent are Augustinian type, and 10 percent are Thomistic type (I will let you explore the book and find out what does each type mean). In addition, he says, believers connect to God in various ways according to the different seasons of their lives (I personally find it very true to me). He encourages readers to give enough time to try out the different spiritual practices before giving up a particular one. Last but not least, I really agree with him that, in times of stress, it’s easy for us to use old addictive habits to numb out our pain or release us from distress. Having a rhythm of spiritual practices helps us to transform our old selves into what God prepares for us to be, to have a fruitful and rich life.
Ken Shigematsu’s latest book “Survival Guide for the Soul” will quench your soul. He provides everyday tools on how to navigate through life’s struggles of comparison, pursuit of success, and insecurities. It will bring clarity in a time of confusion and peace in a time of uncertainty. As you read this book, I encourage you to “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). Each chapter you incorporate into your life will build a foundation for your soul and guide you in your vocation. This book will help you to integrate a 24-hr rest period once a week, wind down each day with a few simple questions, and exercise gratitude in times of stress. This book is a wonderful companion to his first (and best selling) book “God in My Everything : How an Ancient Rhythm Helps Busy People Enjoy God”.
This book truly captured my attention and kept me focused on the message. I wanted to read more. This book truly caused me to think about the ramifications of a driven life versus a life lived at drawing closer to Jesus Christ and God. The message is clear. The style is engaging. The words are powerful. So if you are looking for a book about how to have a closer relationship with Jesus Christ is the midst of a world that believes power and success in the workplace are more important, this is the book for you. I definitely recommend you check it out for yourself. This book is perfect for anyone who desires a closer walk and relationship with God, especially in the midst of the pressures of daily living. This book truly captured my attention and kept me focused on the message. I wanted to read more. This book truly caused me to think about the ramifications of a driven life versus a life lived at drawing closer to Jesus Christ and God. The message is clear. The style is engaging. The words are powerful. So if you are looking for a book about how to have a closer relationship with Jesus Christ is the midst of a world that believes power and success in the workplace are more important, this is the book for you. I definitely recommend you check it out for yourself.
‘Survival Guide for the Soul’, is a gift and an inspiration. Like his first book, ‘God is My Everything’, Ken Shigematsu’s second book is an anthology of practiced disciplines born from his knowledge of both ancient and contemporary works. I am delighted to receive this book as part of its launch and this review is my honest opinion. I am grateful to have heard Ken speak over the years as part of the Tenth Church community. This book serves as a compass when life becomes too busy or disorienting. I will often revisit the ‘Survival Guide’ as I work out what God works in me: to better know that I am his beloved; “…being beloved is the core truth of our existence.” How do we acknowledge this? Ken illustrates the practice of spiritual survival through many ‘ordinary’ others. I feel blessed to know some them as friends. As presented in this book, Soulful Habits are making the ‘extraordinary’ difference in their lives. Pastor Ken’s writing is like fresh air after a spring rain. He opens up about how honouring his soul can be harmonious with his ambitious, worldly self. Some habits come easier to me (gratitude, servanthood). Others will need to be tweaked or trialed (simple abundance, meditation). He is encouraging and kind; you don’t have to master all these habits overnight, nor will all align with your soul, instead “…embrace the spiritual practices that are consistent with the grain of (y)our character.” Ken writes like he speaks, and if you ever wanted a compilation of his sermons to reference, get this book.
"This letter to myself is a survival guide of sorts. It's a guide to surviving the damaging effects of a driven life, a way of overcoming the need to succeed by living satisfied in the acceptance and love of God." This was a fresh look at spiritual habits that will help Christians survive through good times and bad with God's help.
At some point in life, it seems like many of us wonder if we are becoming too consumed with the desire to lead the outwardly "successful life" measured by accomplishments and achievements. And in doing so, are we neglecting our true, inner selves and spiritual growth? Reading Pastor Ken Shigematsu's new book has helped me to make sense of this dichotomy which exists within us all, and to realize that both sides are a part of who God has made us to be. Ideally, we should strive to find a balance between the two. In his new book, Pastor Ken outlines 8 practices designed to help us get back in tune with our spiritual life with God, while living in the midst of our busy lives. While some of these may speak to you more than others, all of them have merit and are worth thinking about and giving a try. As with Pastor Ken's previous book, he draws from a wide range of sources, such as the Bible, other writers (both Christian and secular), scientific studies and research, pop culture, and personal stories from his own experiences and those of colleagues and friends. It is these personal stories which speak to me the most, as things become more concrete to me when they are attached to actual people. We all have our own stories, thoughts, and experiences to share. I would encourage you all to share yours after reading this book while recommending it to others.