Make the Time for Solitude

Guard it—and enjoy it—without explanation or apology.

We pastors love being with people . . . but not all the time. Let’s be honest: people (especially talkative people) can be draining.

Alone with God
(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

In times of solitude with God, however, the only person who needs anything is you.

  • You bring your needs to God’s inexhaustible supply.
  • There He sifts the essentials of life from the chaff.
  • There He trains your mind on what’s important.
  • The result? You’re left with a healthy perspective of who you are and what He’s called you to do.

The gospel of Mark tells us:

In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. (Mark 1:35)

Why so early? Was Jesus a morning person? Not necessarily. Early morning was probably the only time He could be alone. He arose early even though the previous day had been non-stop.

Even as a busy man, Jesus found a way to balance the demands on His time with His need for solitude with the Father.

That requires creativity.

Time with the Father will require a willingness to inconvenience yourself . . . to the point of losing sleep, if necessary. But even making that sacrifice, there’s no guarantee you’ll get all of the time alone that you would prefer. Check the record. Jesus sought solitude, while everyone sought Him! (Keep reading in Mark 1:36–38.)

Ministry’s Inescapable Tension

Solitude and ministry exist in tension with each another, yet they cannot be separated. Effective spiritual leaders must learn the discipline of keeping themselves in proper balance.

Our purpose as pastors, like that of Christ, is to serve others, not to cloister ourselves away in order to hoard up spiritual treasures for our own enrichment.

  • In terms of ministry, solitude is an investment—one that will make us richer so we can share that wealth with others.
  • On the other hand, a pauper has no riches to give. Fail to seek solitude, and you will be too poor to give anything away. Your spiritual reservoir will quickly drain and stay near empty.

The refreshment Jesus gleaned from solitude with the Father translated into meaningful ministry to the people.

Make the Time for Solitude

In truth, some of you reading this are on the ragged edge.

  • You are continually in motion, constantly in the presence of needs and people and demands and expectations—children pulling at you, spouse needing support, friends wanting help, groups looking for leadership, schedules, making plans, attending events.
  • You can’t remember the last time you were absolutely alone, sitting—or better, kneeling—in silence.

Because you have lost perspective, you will soon burn out. Stop before it’s too late! Not much ministry gets done from a pine box.

Let me suggest the obvious. Make time for solitude with God. Schedule it in your calendar like any other appointment.

Then guard it—and enjoy it—without explanation or apology.

What do you think? How do you guard your time with God? You can tell me by clicking here.

Like This? Subscribe to Our Feed!

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

  • Rick Stonestreet

    Chuck,
    You hit the nail on the head with this reminder. Our relationship to God is more important than anything we do. Keep up the good articles. Pastors need the continual reminders.
    Rick

  • Tim Satterfield

    Thank you so much for this reminder! The problem I often experience is thinking that solitude can wait. That’s what keeps my spiritual reservoir near empty.

  • Wes Coffey

    Thank You!!!

  • Chaplain Jeff Mason

    Chuck,
    Thank you so much for this post. It is so important to seek out solitude so that we can be refreshed and refueled in order to minister to others. As a Chaplain for the Ohio National Guard and having been deployed to Iraq I remember times when I was running on empty while trying to serve my Soldiers. It took a while to realize that I need time away from my Soldiers so that I could get refreshed and renewed. Thank you again for your wisdom and encouragement. Your sermons always help encourage and challenge me.

  • Rodrigo D. Almari Jr.

    Thanks Pastor Chuck
    I feel drained,and burn out right now but thank God.He sends healing in perfect timing such as this.
    To God be the glory
    Rod

  • Christiane

    The ‘morning vigil’ time of prayer, before dawn, is an ancient Christian tradition. It has never been abandoned.
    Good to know that it is being taken up by some in the Baptist tradition.
    In time, more may come to find meaning in the many other ways of carving out a holy space in time:
    hourly, daily, and seasonally, to honor the life of Our Lord, beyond just the Christmas and the Easter seasons.
    He calls to us still,
    ‘will you not wait with Me for an hour . . . ?’

  • diane davis

    Solitude is a “must-have”. I can’t make it a day without quiet time alone with my Lord.It’s not the only time we speak–one to the other,but it’s the only time that we have to really converse.
    Blessed Day, All.

  • Sherman Driver

    My Dear Brother Chuck,
    You will never know the extent of encouragement you have been to me since about 1981. The story would take pages, but one thing has been engraving into the habit to my life – time with my Lord and Master! It not only a must, it is a joy and pleasure! (Psalm 16:11). His glory keeps transforming my life for more effective ministry; doing what He wants me to do, not people. With a world-wide ministry in addition to local work, solitude is critical and the only way His work gets done His way.

    • So true, Sherman. Chuck has been an encouragement to so many of us in the ministry. Thanks.