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?