Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

“Rest in [Seeds], Mf*kr.”

Written by: on February 8, 2022

Oregon state law requires that that new residence obtain an Oregon driver’s license within thirty days of residency. My partner Liz and I moved to Newberg, Oregon from Indiana on June 30th 2015. I obtained my Oregon driver’s license on January 8th, 2022. My trip to the DMV took less than an hour, cost no money, and required no test. I worried and avoided this task for six and a half years.

Author, historian and screenwriter, Steven Pressfield offers a treasure trove of snippets, allusions and truth-bombs to shed light on the shadow often cast by the divine light of creativity. Pressfield casts resistance as this shadow of creativity, defining it as, “[…]the destructive force inside human nature that rises whenever we consider a tough, long-term course of action that might do for us or others something that’s actually good.” (forward) This book aims a death blow at the root system of resistance, by examining, dissecting, and naming all the maneuvers and manifestations it presents in our creative endeavors. Pressfield writes, “Procrastination is the most common manifestation of resistance because it’s the easiest to rationalize.” [1] He insists that resistance is fueled by fear, “Resistance has no strength of its own. Every ounce of juice it possesses comes from us. We feed it with power by our fear of it. Master that fear and we conquer Resistance.” [2] But fear can offer us something quite valuable. The presence and orientation of fear can direct us toward our true north. Pressfield writes, “Therefore, the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul.” [3]

Pressfield compares the amateur to the professional in their different approaches to their craft. Conventional wisdom, he suggests, is that an amateur loves her work more because she plays for the love of the game, unlike the professional who plays for money. However, he turns this notional on its head by stating that the professional loves the game more because he has chosen to give himself fully to the work. The amateur gives only in part what the professional gives in full. Further, being paid for this work in the form of money helps create a boundaries or a lightening rod to over-identification. Amateurs may become internally over identified with their craft, while remaining externally noncommittal. A true professional remains detached from the work so as to work on it rather than identify with it. However, becoming a professional is not a simple, one-time choice, but is rather the result of a daily commitment to perfecting technique. Pressfield poignantly expresses this as the professional’s ability to demystify their craft:

“A pro views her work as a craft, not art. Not because she believes art is devoid of mystical dimension. On the contrary. She understands that all creative endeavor is holy, but she doesn’t dwell on it […] she concentrates on technique […] The professional masters how, and leaves what and why to the gods […] she doesn’t wait for inspiration, she acts in the anticipation of its apparition.” [4]

Pressfield’s The War of Art is an aggressive move against the passive, and sometimes active ways we resist engaging that which-the-soul-requires. Though I find his metaphor of war a bit jarring, if not inappropriate, it is no accident that it aligns metaphorically with the archetypal theme of inner-conflict that creative leaders encounter. Near the end of the book, Pressfield employees Homer’s The Odyssey as an example of resisting the call to vocation. Odysseus’ journey is an exposition in resistance. From feigning madness to avoid war, to being blown out to sea just as he prepared to dock in Ithaca, this mythology provides a mirror for leaders to see their own inner saboteur.

To my gleeful surprise, Pressfield offers Jungian psychology as a map for navigating and strategizing for this ongoing war. Through an intensional oversimplification, Pressfield boils the human psyche down to essentially two components – the Ego and the Self. The Ego is the “I”. It is concerned with the here-and-now, what it can accomplish, how it is perceived by others (including God), and what that can afford in the present. The ego is vital, but it is limited in its scope and mission, which is about surviving death rather than living life. The Self encompasses all other aspects of the personality. If the personal ego is the tip of an iceberg, then the Self is the vast ocean hidden beneath. The ego is what people see when they look at us, and the various ways we identify. The Self includes these identifications, but also includes all the individual and collective elements of which we are unaware and unconscious. This is why Pressfield writes, “Dreams come from the Self. Ideas come from the Self. When we meditate we access the Self. When we fast, when we pray, when we go on a vision quest, it’s the Self we’re seeking […] The Self is our deepest being. [5].

Herein lies my passion for mythology, initiation and Jungian psychology. It provides a map of the journey of salvation. Not salvation that is esoteric, ethereal, or tied to a literal afterlife. Salvation is about integration of the self, whereas ego-spirituality (spirituality that tends to uphold ego-identifications, and pursues certainty, comfort, and stasis) results only in death (a.k.a resistance). The ego is a grain of wheat, and the self is wheat field. Jesus said it this way, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who [loses] their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” [6].

In the triumphant words of Steven Pressfield, “Rest in [seeds], mf*kr.” [7]


1. Pressfield, Steven. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. Black Irish Entertainment LLC, 2002. 21.
2. Ibid., 16.
3. Ibid., 40.
4. Ibid., 78.
5. Ibid., 139.
6. John 12:24-25 (NIV).
7. Pressfield, Steven. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. Black Irish Entertainment LLC, 2002. 112.

About the Author

Michael Simmons

- Tennessee --> Oregon - Father to David and Bina, Partner to Liz - Portland Seminary Admissions Counselor - Spiritual Director - Companioning Center Leadership Team - Deep Water Board Member - Ordained Elder, FMC - Aspiring Jungian Theologian

5 responses to ““Rest in [Seeds], Mf*kr.””

  1. mm Roy Gruber says:

    Michael, I must admit, when I read Pressfield and saw his references to Jung, it made me smile because I pictured it making you smile! You do a great job breaking down Pressfield’s analysis of the amateur and the professional. Do you believe that those same dynamics exist for people in ministry – the amateurs (volunteers) and the professionals (paid staff)? I’m pretty sure you’ve been on both sides of that so I wonder if you’ve seen that dynamic in your own ministry journey.

  2. Ahh this makes my day 🙂 Truly, I think this does exist in ministry, as with any vocation. However, I think it’s more complex than he puts it. I’ve watched so many women desire to considered professional, or appointed to professional ministry roles, only to be sidelined because of their gender. Conversely, I’ve seen many men put into places of ministry leadership who were given a fast track because of some their charisma. I was an amateur pastor a few churches, and I’ve realized that it wasn’t cause I didn’t love it, but that I couldn’t love it in a local church container. So, I think chronic-amateurism can be a sign either a fear of commitment to a vocation or a fear of separation from a vocation. Shadow work can help uncover this!

  3. mm Troy Rappold says:

    Michael: I really got a lot out of Pressfield’s book, too. I never heard the distinction between the Amateur and the Pro. He spends some time on this and it was helpful because I am an aspiring writer. i write thirty to forty minutes every day and I am trying to improve my craft constantly. This made me think that I am on the right path of becoming a Pro. Consistency, perseverance, patience, all three of these are needed. This book, coupled with King’s, made for a great week of reading.

  4. mm Denise Johnson says:

    Like Roy, I was happy for you when I saw Pressfield’s reference to Jung. I could almost see your feet doing a happy dance.
    I do struggle with Pressfield’s view that professionals, as you pointed out, are “detached from the work so as to work on it rather than identify with it”. When I think of professional athletes or individuals, I have known that take their vocation seriously, if they are unable to continue in that work suffer great loss. They often lose a piece of their identity. How would you explain this?

  5. Elmarie Parker says:

    Hi Michael. Thank you for your thought-provoking post. Like our other colleagues, I thought of you as I read Pressfield’s references to Jungian thought. I appreciate the expansion you gave on his ego/self discussion. I also found his description of resistance as the shadow of creativity very interesting. In reference to the quote you shared from the Gospel according to John, is doing shadow work the key to allowing ego to fall to the ground and die and thus create capacity for the self to have greater life? Is this an accurate use of these terms?

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