Although leading, serving, and being with people is a central component to ministry, every leader will go through desert experiences, or isolation experiences, where one is forced out of one’s context, or where one will voluntarily leave one’s context.
If you haven’t yet gone through one, then expect to. If you have, then you probably know that these experiences are the most formative experiences in our lives: personally, spiritually, and ministerially.
This is part one of a four part series where I will explore these desert experiences in ministry. Today I will explain the rationale behind these isolation experiences.
God uses desert experiences to accomplish things through us that we would never be able to accomplish apart from these desert experiences. In fact, some of our ultimate leadership insights and contributions may come from these desert experiences.
It is precisely these desert experiences that cause us to stop and reflect on how we are doing personally, spiritually, and ministerially. Thus, it is important to be prepared for a desert season by deciding to embrace the whole process that comes with it. And when one is going through a desert season, it is important to stay in it until God calls one out of it.
On a more personal note, understanding my past desert experiences through this lens has been extremely helpful as I consider how to share my life history with others. I could easily share my past using the framework of, “I’m glad that I’m not going through that anymore,” and allow that desert experience to turn into a fact of history. Or, I could share my desert experiences through the lens of how God has transformed me and made me a better individual as a result of going through it.
How have you communicated your past desert experiences to others? Through the lens of apathy, bitterness, or gratitude?
Join me next time as I define the different types of isolation experiences that one can go through.
If you want to read a book that outlines this concept in a thorough yet brief manner, check out, Shelly Trebesch’s Isolation: A Place of Transformation in the Life of a Leader.