Last year, Shauna Niequist shared an essay called “Good Fruit” with our Practice community–first on a Sunday night in September, and then at our Pastors Retreat in January. Both times, her opening line brought a hush over the room…

“You don’t have to sacrifice your spirit, your joy, your soul, your family, your marriage on the altar of ministry.”

For the next ten minutes, Shauna shared a very personal story of exhausting herself in the name of God, only to discover that God didn’t need her exhaustion. In her masterful language: “…our family and our very selves are included in the kingdom we wish to serve, and if they are not thriving, the whole of our ministry is not thriving.”

And more than just name the problem, she humbly and poetically invited us into a better way. Into unforced rhythms of Grace. Into the Way of Christ.

51OYWbe4vNLShauna included this essay in her new book Present Over Perfect.  And even though it doesn’t come out until tomorrow, she was glad to share “Good Fruit” with the Practice community today…

Good Fruit by Shauna Niequist

“You don’t have to sacrifice your spirit, your joy, your soul, your family, your marriage on the altar of ministry.

Just because you have the capacity to do something doesn’t mean you have to do it. Management, organization, speaking and traveling: you must ask not only what fruit they bring to the world, but what fruit they yield on the inside of your life and your heart.

I didn’t want to admit it, but I was surprised to find a holdout of that old, terrible doctrine: if it hurts just awful, it must be God’s will for you. And the other side of the same coin: if it produces fruit, it must be God’s will for you.

As I laid out those ideas, peered at them and through them, held them up to the light of God’s Word, I saw that they were half true at best, possibly less.

First, we focus so often on the fruit for other people—it worked, people liked it, people gave me great feedback, and on and on.

I’ve spent all my life surrounded by pastors and their families, and I have seen…”