S e ss i o n 1What Isthe Soul?Our soul is like an inner stream of water, which gives strength, direction,and harmony to every other element of our life. When that stream is asit should be, we are constantly refreshed and exuberant in all we do,because our soul itself is then profusely rooted in the vastness of Godand his kingdom, including nature; and all else within us is enlivened anddirected by that stream. Therefore we are in harmony with God, reality,and the rest of human nature and nature at large.Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart9780310691273 SoulKeeping SG int.indd 92/24/14 2:23 pm

10 Soul K eeping Study GuideWelcome!Welcome to Session 1 of Soul Keeping. Each of the six sessions in thisstudy is designed to be completed in ninety minutes. If you have just onehour for your meeting, you will need to choose fewer questions for yourdiscussion. You may also opt to devote two meetings rather than one toeach session.If this is your first time together as a group, take a moment to introduce yourselves to each other before watching the video. Then let’sbegin!Video: What Is the Soul? (25 minutes)Play the video segment for Session 1. As you watch, use the outlineprovided to follow along or to take additional notes on anything thatstands out to you.NotesThe Parable of the Keeper of the StreamQuestions about the human soul:What is it?What does it consist of?Why does it matter, if it does matter?Is it doing okay?All of us have an outer life and an inner life.My outer life is the public, visible me —  my accomplishments, mywork, my reputation.9780310691273 SoulKeeping SG int.indd 102/24/14 2:23 pm

What Is the Soul?11My inner life is largely invisible. It’s where my secret thoughts, hopes,and wishes live.“What matters most, what marks your existence, the really deepreason why human life matters so much, is because of this tiny, fragile,vulnerable, precious thing about you called your soul. You are not justa self; you are a soul. You are a soul made by God, made for God, andmade to need God, made to run on God. Which means that you arenot made to be self-sufficient” (Dallas Willard).The self is not the soul.In the twentieth century, we replaced community, society, church, andfaith with a tiny little unit that cannot bear the weight of meaning.We’ve replaced all these larger entities with the self.The self is a stand-alone, do-it-yourself unit, while the soul reminds uswe are not made for ourselves or by ourselves. The soul always existsbefore God.Your soul connects your thoughts, your sensations, your emotions,your will, and integrates them into an entire being.9780310691273 SoulKeeping SG int.indd 112/24/14 2:23 pm

12 Soul K eeping Study GuideThe four parts of a human beingEach part of a human being must be healthy and working as Godintended it to, and that makes a healthy soul.SoulBodyMindWillWill: The innermost circle is the will —  the capacity to choose. Thewill is what makes you a person and not a thing. It is important but itis also extremely limited.Mind: The second circle is the mind, a person’s thoughts and feelings.“The mind of the sinful [person] is death, but the mind controlled bythe Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6 NIV 1984).9780310691273 SoulKeeping SG int.indd 122/24/14 2:23 pm

13What Is the Soul?Body: The third circle is the body.“Our bodies are like our little power packs —  we couldn’t be us without them. . . . But they are not the whole story. We are not just thestuff that our bodies are made of” (Dallas Willard).Soul: The final circle is the soul. The human soul is what integratesall of our different parts into a single person.“A healthy soul is an integrated soul, and an unhealthy soul is a‘dis-integrated’ one” (Dallas Willard).When we’re dealing with a disintegrated soul, we have to come togrips with sin.9780310691273 SoulKeeping SG int.indd 132/24/14 2:23 pm

14 Soul K eeping Study GuideWhat does it mean to lose one’s soul?“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeittheir soul?” (Matthew 16:26).What J esus is saying is a diagnostic expression. To lose my soul meansI no longer have a healthy center that organizes and guides my life.You have a soul, and for you to have a soul that is healed, that ishealthy, that is redeemed by God, matters more than the outcome ofany circumstance in your world or your life. Your eternal destiny restson the well-being of your soul —  and only God can heal the soul.What does it mean to “keep” one’s soul?“You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life. . . . Hurry is thegreat enemy of souls in our day. Being busy is mostly a condition ofour outer world; it’s having many things to do. Being hurried is aproblem of the soul. It’s being so preoccupied with myself and whatmyself has to do that I am no longer able to be fully present withGod and others. There is no way a soul can thrive when it is hurried.And nobody will come along and unhurry your soul for you” (DallasWillard).9780310691273 SoulKeeping SG int.indd 142/24/14 2:23 pm

15What Is the Soul?You have one soul; and gaining the whole world will not help you ifyou lose it.Caring for your soul, allowing it to flourish in God’s presence andbecome a gift to the world around you, is the primary charge thatfaces you before eternity.“This is the most important thing you can know about your identity:You are an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’sgreat universe” (Dallas Willard).Your soul will live forever —  and you are the keeper of your soul.Group Discussion(63 minutes)Take time to talk about what you just watched.1. What part of the teaching had the most impact on you?9780310691273 SoulKeeping SG int.indd 152/24/14 2:23 pm

16 Soul K eeping Study GuideYou Are the Keeper2. A keeper is someone who is in charge of caring for, maintaining, orprotecting something. For example, there are innkeepers, zookeepers, bookkeepers, groundskeepers, housekeepers, peacekeepers, shopkeepers, gatekeepers, beekeepers, etc. Along with the parable John told about the keeper of the stream,what do these images of keepers suggest about the tasks and characteristics of “keeping” in general? For example, the stream keeper’swork was described as “unseen.” What comes to mind when you think of these characteristics in con-nection with your soul? In other words, what might they reveal aboutwhat it means for you to engage in soul keeping?Describing the Soul3. It can be hard to define the soul, but sometimes we have momentswhen we recognize it even if we can’t define it. For example, Johndescribed feeling “an enormous combination of joy and humility andawe” when he watches a sunset at Big Sur, and how there is a depthto that experience that goes beyond what he can apprehend visually. Think back over the last day or two. In what moments did you catcha glimpse of your soul at work? (If nothing comes to mind, think backto the most recent experience you can recall.)9780310691273 SoulKeeping SG int.indd 162/24/14 2:23 pm

17What Is the Soul? How, specifically, do you recognize your soul in these moments? Inother words, what distinguishes these moments from other moments? Overall, would you say you tend to be more aware of your soul inuplifting experiences (such as the one John described) or in experiences of hardship and suffering? Share the reasons for your response.4. The Bible doesn’t provide a comprehensive definition of the soul,but the words biblical writers use offer insights about its meaning. Inthe Old Testament, the Hebrew word for the soul is nephesh (neh'fesh). New Testament writers use the Greek word psyche (psü-khā')to name the soul. The root words for both nephesh and psyche referto “breath.”Nephesh can be translated in several ways, but it is commonlyrendered life or soul. For example:The ransom for a life [nephesh] is costly, no payment is everenough. (Psalm 49:8)Only take care, and keep your soul [nephesh] diligently. (Deuteronomy 4:9a ESV)Psyche is also frequently translated as life or soul. We see both usesin this statement made by Jesus:For whoever wants to save their life [psyche] will lose it, butwhoever loses their life [psyche] for me will find it. What goodwill it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit theirsoul [psyche]? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul[psyche]? (Matthew 16:25 – 26)In biblical usage, nephesh and psyche are words that encompass9780310691273 SoulKeeping SG int.indd 172/24/14 2:23 pm

18 Soul K eeping Study Guideall that makes a person a living being, “summing up . . . the wholepersonality, of the whole self of a person.”1 In essence, they are wordsthat refer to your life as an integrated whole and all the componentsthat make you uniquely you. Briefly reflect on the soul using the image of breath, the meaning ofthe biblical root words. For example, you might consider when youtend to be most and least aware of your physical breathing, what takesyour breath away, or what makes you hold your breath. What parallelsdo you recognize between these physical experiences of breath andthe ways in which you might experience, or fail to experience, yoursoul at work? The three Scriptures quoted above stress the incalculable value of thesoul and the importance of making an intentional effort to care forit. And yet, as Dallas Willard acknowledged, even among Chris tians,“very few people [are] seriously concerned about the state of theirown soul.”2 Overall, how would you assess yourself in this regard? Forexample, would you say the attention and care you give to the state ofyour soul right now is the highest it’s ever been, the lowest, or somewhere between? Share the reasons for your response.Caring for the Soul5. John described a distinction Dallas Willard made between beingbusy and being hurried:Hurry is the great enemy of souls in our day. Being busy is mostly1. C olin Brown, “Soul,” New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol. 3,Colin Brown, gen. ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978, 1986), 680.2. Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart, 208.9780310691273 SoulKeeping SG int.indd 182/24/14 2:23 pm

19What Is the Soul?a condition of our outer world; it is having many things to do.Being hurried is a problem of the soul. It’s being so preoccupiedwith myself and what myself has to do that I am no longer ableto be fully present with God and fully present with you. There isno way a soul can thrive when it is hurried. How would you assess the threat level of hurry to your soul right now?Is it very high, moderate, or low? When are you most likely to succumb to hurry —  to lose the ability tobe fully present with God and others? If you were to describe the characteristics of a person who is busy butnot hurried, what would they be? For example, what would you expectto notice about their demeanor, their actions, and their interactionswith others?6. John said that this was the most important thing he had to say:You have a soul, and for you to have a soul that is healed, thatis healthy, that is redeemed by God, matters more than the outcome of any circumstance in your world or your life. Your eternaldestiny rests on the well-being of your soul —  and only God canheal the soul.In what ways might the next twenty-four hours be different ifyou were to take this statement seriously? For example, how might it9780310691273 SoulKeeping SG int.indd 192/24/14 2:23 pm

20 Soul K eeping Study Guideinfluence the decisions you make, the way you spend your time, orthe way you relate to others?Souls in Community7. In addition to learning about Soul Keeping together as a group, it’simportant to also be aware of how God is at work among you —  especially in how you relate to each other and share your lives throughoutthe study. As you discuss the teaching in each session, there willbe many opportunities to speak life-giving —  and life-challenging —  words, and to listen to one another deeply. Being with each other inthis way doesn’t happen by accident. Dallas Willard writes:Persons rarely become present where they are not heartilywanted. Certainly that is true for you and me. We prefer to bewanted, warmly wanted, before we reveal our souls —  or evencome to a party.3As you anticipate the next several weeks of learning together incommunity, what would help you to “become present” within thegroup? Use one or more of the sentence starters below, or your ownstatement, to help the group understand the best way to be a goodcompanion to you throughout this study. As each person responds,use the two-page chart that follows to briefly note what is importantto that person and how you can be a good companion to them.I feel “heartily wanted” in a group when . . .It really helps me to become present when . . .I tend to withdraw or feel anxious when . . .I’d like you to consistently challenge me about . . .You can help me to take my soul seriously by . . .In our discussions, the best thing you could do for me is . . .3. Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1998), 77.9780310691273 SoulKeeping SG int.indd 202/24/14 2:23 pm

What Is the Soul?Name21The Best Way I Can Be a Good Companion to This Person . . .9780310691273 SoulKeeping SG int.indd 212/24/14 2:23 pm

22 Soul K eeping Study GuideNameThe Best Way I Can Be a Good Companion to This Person . . .9780310691273 SoulKeeping SG int.indd 222/24/14 2:23 pm

What Is the Soul?23Individual Activity: What I Want to Remember (2 minutes)Complete this activity on your own.1. Briefly review the video outline and any notes you took.2. In the space below, write down the most significant thingyou gained in this session —  from the teaching, activities, ordiscussions.What I want to remember from this session . . .Group Practice: Attending to the SoulEach session in the Soul Keeping study includes a group practice thateach of you will complete on your own between sessions, then debrieftogether at the start of the next meeting. Although t