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The Surprising Cure for Lonely Leaders

How solitude fills us

It is in the practice of solitude that we discover our belovedness—but only if we are willing to go, empty handed, and carve out some time to simply listen, to be quiet, to leave our agenda and tasks behind.

The recent GFL post on loneliness talked about feeling lonely for God in spite of "doing all the right things—praying, reading my Bible, serving Jesus in ministry." While those are good things to do, solitude calls us instead to stop doing. To simply be, instead of do. To sit still and let Jesus serve us, minister to us, reassure us that even when we stop, we are just as loved as when we are accomplishing.

But solitude, especially without an agenda, can be frightening. What if God doesn't speak? Or worse, what if he does? What will we talk about? If we don't name those fears, we'll never spend time in solitude, and we'll never discover its soul-quenching power.

Ruth Haley Barton, in her helpful book Invitation to Solitude and Silence, writes: "The willingness to name our fear as we enter into solitude opens the way for God to reassure us with his presence, much as the presence of a loving parent comforts a child who awakes trembling with fear in the night. It also enables us—eventually—to peel back the fear, revealing something even true: our desire for God. This desire is the flip side of our fear."

I believe it is this fear that keeps leaders (and followers) from discovering the joy of solitude, the living waters that flow unabated when we simply rest in God's presence. In solitude, we discover our deep desire for God, which will fuel our ministry like no amount of hard work can, and no other person can.

Keri Wyatt Kent is a freelance writer, speaker, and author of nine books, including Deeper into the Word: Reflections on 100 Old Testament Words. She's led small groups, bible studies, and service teams at Willow Creek Community Church for more than 20 years. Connect with her at www.keriwyattkent.com or on twitter at @keriwyattkent

April10, 2012 at 1:53 PM

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