Ken Shigematsu, pastor of Tenth Church in Vancouver and former student at Trinity Western, has released a new book titled The Survival Guide for the Soul: How to Flourish Spiritually in a World That Pressures Us to Achieve.
In this book, he builds on the themes of his last, God in My Everything, and talks about the need for Christians to take care of their soul, to spend time meditating on God, and to find their identity in Him, not in what they do.
“Part of the reason I wrote this book is because I know what it feels like to feel pressure to achieve success in the corporate world, and in the not-for-profit church world,” says Shigematsu.
The Pressures of Life
For a period of his life, Shigematsu worked for the Sony Corporation in Japan. He was what is called a 7-11 man, someone who works from 7am to 11pm. His world was consumed with work. Back then, the pressure to succeed was a part of his daily life. But when he came to pastor Tenth Church in Canada, he came face to face with that exact same pressure.
When Shigematsu took over Tenth in 1996, they’d been in a period of decline. Over the course of twenty years, they’d had twenty different pastors step in and out of the role. The church had gone from over a thousand people to less than two hundred.
One of the first days after taking the senior pastor position, the church secretary came in to his office and said that if the church collapsed, he’d be blamed because he was the last pastor.
“There was a lot of pressure for things to succeed and for the church to stay afloat,” says Shigematsu.
But he didn’t let this discourage him. Shigematsu learned from his past experiences, and knew not to put his identity in his performance. On top of this, he believed he’d been called to this ministry, through a very clear word from God several months earlier.
Who We Are Matters More Than What We Do
Since Shigematsu took over leadership of Tenth Church, it has grown to have over 2,000 members, with four campuses across Vancouver. But despite having had tremendous success with his church ministry, Shigematsu says he is convinced that what matters most is not the things he does, but who he is in Christ.
“What we do matters, and is enormously important, but who we are as a result of our relationship with Christ will have a bigger impact than what we do,” says Shigematsu.
This is a message he hopes young people will hear and understand as they enter the work world for the first time and strive to make their mark on the world. He believes that if young people can learn to build a simple rhythm of spiritual practices, it will remind them every day that they are accepted and loved by God, no matter how they perform.
“If they can do this, then they can approach their work with a more relaxed and poised state of being,” says Shigematsu. “They’ll enjoy their work more and be more fruitful and effective in all they do.”
The Power of Silence
A spiritual practice that Shigematsu says has really helped him deal with the pressures of life is the act of silent contemplate prayer and meditation on God.
He admits that he often has many things on his mind, which is why the practice of mediation is so incredibly valuable. When his mind is distracted, he simply repeats the verse “Be still and know that God is God.” He breathes in, breathes out, and focuses his mind on God.
While aware that the practice of silent meditation may worry some conservative Christians—who fear it might be too similar to eastern mysticism—Shigematsu believes that as long as one intends to seek God and uses scripture as a guide, they can trust the Holy Spirit for protection.
“I think there’s nothing to fear and much to gain through silence,” says Shigematsu. “Job prayed, ‘Teach me and I will be silent’” (Job 6:24). In Psalm 46:10 we’re told to be still, to be silent, and know God is God. For me, the practice of silent prayerful mediation is a bedrock practice.”
Making a Lasting Difference
Through his writing, Shigematsu hopes to explore the spiritual practices that will awaken people to the sense that they’re loved by God and encourage them in their life’s work.
By coming to see and know the love of God—and by letting go of the belief that they need to prove or validate themselves—Shigematsu believes Christians will be able to achieve great things and make a real and lasting difference in the world for God’s glory.