We pastors love being with people . . . but not all the time. Let’s be honest: people (especially talkative people) can be draining.
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:
Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray (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.