Missional spiritual formation – Reservoirs or canals?

Last week Adri-Marie and I had the opportunity to facilitate a week of classes with master’s students at the University of Stellenbosch on the development of missional spiritual formation. It was a fantastic week of learning and teaching for us. This is the second year that Rhythm of Life had the privilege to conclude the two year course with the students. One of the exciting things that happened during our time in Stellenbosch was to hear how the Dutch Reformed Church is reclaiming the work of Andrew Murray through the establishment of the Andrew Murray center for spirituality. The center specifically wants to foster spaces for the cultivation of missional spiritual formation.

As our friend Frederick Marais shared Murray’s story with us we learnt that he was deeply influenced by Bernard of Clairvaux. Murray named his house Clairvaux. In the 2013 special issue of the Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care focusing on “Christian spirituality and Christian Mission” in the introductory essay Steve Porter starts with a fantastic Clairvaux quote that creates wonderful tension. Here is the quote (we would love to hear your thoughts on it),

The man who is wise, therefore, will see his life as more like a reservoir than a canal. The canal simultaneously pours out what it receives; the reservoir retains the water till it is filled, then discharges the overflow without loss to itself . . . Today there are many in the Church who act like canals, the reservoirs are far too rare . . . You too must learn to await this fullness before pouring out your gifts, do not try to be more generous than God (Bernard of Clairvaux).