From the outside, life was going smoothly for the Rev. Junius B. Dotson. An acclaimed author and celebrated proponent of church revitalization, Dotson traveled the country teaching pastors and lay leaders how to revive their congregations and help people walk victoriously in Christ.
He shared valuable insight from his previous experience as senior pastor of St. Mark United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kansas, a 3,500-member fellowship. He inspired thousands with his proven strategies on building disciples and engaging communities.
Everything was good for Dotson until he broke down during a funeral. After that episode, he realized a change was in order for him to be a productive and effective person as well as continue in his position as general secretary/CEO of Discipleship Ministries, an international agency of the United Methodist Church.
Dotson details his odyssey through grief, despair and recovery in his new book, “Soul Reset: Breakdown, Breakthrough, and the Journey to Wholeness.” In his opinion, pastors, church leaders and even nonbelievers will benefit from “resetting their souls.”
“This is a book about my personal journey of bearing the weight and responsibility of leadership, yet being a leader who has experienced depression and extreme grief. It is a very open and transparent look at leaders,” explained Dotson.
“It was my desire to write a book where people would understand that leaders are not perfect and they have struggles just like everyone else. Yet, they can still lead effectively when there are places where they can be true and authentic.”
Generally, the church is a place that espouses authenticity, but it is often less daring in addressing topics such as mental health, deep anxiety and chronic unhappiness. However, Dotson believes that leaders can transform their ministries into spaces where people can reclaim their focus and understand that their discipleship can aid in thriving during difficult seasons in life.
“After reading the book, people have an opportunity to do some assessment in terms of where they are,” noted Dotson. “John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, asked, ‘How is it with your soul?’ That question really was a tool to help people, who are growing in the faith, to check their priorities and never forget to get back to their relationship with Christ.
“Churches have to be places where people feel safe to answer that question. How do we do that? How do we create spaces where people can share openly? That is one piece of the book,” he said.
Developing healthy spiritual practices is also emphasized in “Soul Reset.” The book contains six positive routines that readers can introduce into their lifestyles along with discerning questions at the end of each chapter to help people reflect on as they move through the process of “resetting their souls.”
Another advantage of “Soul Rest,” added Dotson, is that the book can not only assist those who are going through traumatic times, but also aid others who may be associating with stress-filled family members or friends.
“The dedication in the book reads, ‘To those who refused to give up on their dark days and to the people in their lives who encouraged them.’ If that is a testament for people who are going through dark periods, then I think ‘Soul Reset’ will be a valuable resource for them,” Dotson said.
“Everybody will know somebody that resonates with the stories and principles that I share in this book. And if we do breakdown or burn out, we learn to lift one another up and point them back to Jesus.”
“Soul Reset: Breakdown, Breakthrough, and the Journey to Wholeness” is available at Amazon.com, soulreset.org, and upperroombooks.org.