Getting Back to the Center (3)

Yesterday, I spend a great day at the "Summit" in Abilene.  (Formerly known as the "ACU Bible Lectures")  I will be in Abilene through much of the day and will return to Waco later this afternoon.  Yesterday I went to several very good classes (including one taught by long time friend and blogger Bobby Valentine) and visited with a number of people throughout the day.  It is a great time of for reconnecting with a lot of people.


I recently read a great book by Ruth Haley Barton entitled Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership.  (Parts one and two.)  Early on in the book,  Barton speaks of the value of silence and solitude for one who would lead.  One value of solitude, according to Barton, is "…that solitude is the place of our own conversion."

"…In solitude we stop believing our own press.  We discover that we are not as good as we thought but we are also more than we thought.  As we slowly come in contact with our own dysfunctions, we unveil our need for security and all the ways we try to use God and others to get it.  We are alarmed to discover that when the shepherd is starving, he or she may start devouring the sheep!"  (p. 51)

What is it that may be revealed in solitude?


  • Our fears.  Fears of loneliness and abandonment.  Fears of really loving and allowing our self to be loved by others.  I have known some people who were fearful of people who seemed more gifted, more talented, and more visible.
  • Our competitiveness.  Have you known people like this?  They seem to forever be in competition with their peers and so never quite allow themselves to experience real friendship.
  • Our jealousies.  Have you known others who seethe with jealousy when good things are happening to others?   
  • Our rage.  Have you known very, very angry church leaders?  Have you known people who experience no joy in their lives or ministries? 
  • Our manipulations.  This person has a way of relating to people that is manipulative.  For example, this is the person who fears confrontation so he or she stirs up a few people so that they will confront while he waits in the background watching it all unfold. 


Do you relate to any of these?  Have you observed them in others?  Have you experienced in solitude an awareness of what was really going on in your life?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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6 thoughts on “Getting Back to the Center (3)

  1. Jim
    I am often confronted with the issue of Control when in silence and solitude.  When one is not praying a list or meditating on a scripture, but just being alone in the presence of God, He is in control.  This is so good for my spirit.  It is good for me to just wait, quietly and sometimes I hear from Him and sometimes I don’t.
    But regardless, it took me putting down the "quiet time list" to finally surrender control in this part of my life.

  2. This is a great post.  You hit the nail right on the head.  We are often afraid to be alone.  Our weaknesses become very obvious when we are alone because that is the time when we only have to live up to God’s expectations.  I know when my wife goes out of town and I am home alone I tend to be lazy and begin putting things off. 

  3. Thank you Dave.  I am glad that in some way this was a blessing to you.  You do raise an important issue.  What fears do I wish to avoid in my life?  Why am I afraid to spend time alone with God in solitude?

  4. You make a good point, Arlene.  While I may have a number of things on my heart (or on my list)
    that I wish to bring before the Lord, that is no substitute for just
    being quiet before him.  That is such a reminder, as you have said so
    well, that I am not in control.

  5. Thanks for this, Jim. As usual, you’ve nailed it. It’s so hard for me to find solitude, and often, I make it harder on myself by avoiding it. I avoid the calling of God, and through doing so, miss so much of what He wants to speak into my life.
    While it’s true that we might meet our fears, competitiveness, rage, jealousies and manipulations in solitude, I’ve found more and more that (at least for me) I meet my dreams, talents, insights and hopes—things that often get lost in the cling and clatter of my " junk" (the stuff that Haley Barton laid out).
    So, solitude has both the purpose of showing me what I’m doing that’s counterproductive, but it also slows me down enough to see what’s underneath all that: the woman I am, by God’s grace and through a lot of stumbling, slowly becoming.

  6. Alison, A beautiful comment as you remind us all that God’s grace may be more clearly seen as we practice solitude.  Thanks.