Too Much Solitude and Not Enough Community

October 5, 2012 at 1:13 AM

“No matter how much I fast in solitude, no matter how deep I go within myself, my personal growth will be stunted, even mutated, if I detach from other Christians and, as I have done many times, try to go it alone.” 

Most people are rarely alone for 5 minutes, life is chocked full of business and people. That has not been my life.  I protect my solitude as a man would guard his muse. Once I finally ridded myself of the fear of being alone, solitude became a preferred setting for creative thought and writing. In the pursuit of perfecting objective thought, and not wanting to be tainted by the narrow-mindedness of  religion, I went too far, to the point of detaching myself from other Christians, slowly developing a “me and Jesus” mentality, and therefore I have become spiritually mutated. 

The main motivating factor of moving twenty years ago,  out of the very congested Greater Toronto Area,  into the north country with its forests and lakes, was I believed that walking those lonely trails under open sky while communing with the book of God’s creation, would cause deeper spiritual growth. Looking back, there was some truth to this, and for a season, the quieter, slower pace served as a time of healing.  But the unexpected downside was not being able to find a thriving Church where I could connect with strong Christian men.  Older men who could become mentors to me, who would be unimpressed with my clever flash and flare, men who would ask the hard questions and held me accountable. 

Unlike a Church ministry like pastoring, a successful web-based ministry can have zero accountability, not to mention almost no prayer covering. People come, click, feed and leave, hopefully the better for it. The reason for moving back to the Greater Toronto Area, was to find a thriving Church and get connected with Godly men. Within days of moving, while still surrounded with boxes, I started my search. 

 Traditional Church, or what I call, The Sunday Morning Show, will not cut it. You can walk in and out of a Sunday morning service with all your sins intact. You will be uplifted by well-rehearsed music—there’s nothing wrong with that. You will be fed by great teaching—there’s nothing wrong with that nether. But if that’s the only way you do church, then there will be little growth. Your personal life will remain personal, your public persona, including a hardy handshake or holy hug, sweet smile and religious platitudes will be honed to perfection, to the point that you will even be able to fool yourself. And that’s when things get dangerous. I didn’t move away from my beloved wilderness to watch a show, I could do that on TV. 

 I once heard a pastor say to his congregation, “if you only have enough time to invest an hour or two a week, then stop coming here Sunday morning and instead sign up for a home group.” That’s the kind of pastor and church I was looking for. If it didn’t have a strong men’s group, forget it. If their focus was not on home groups, forget it. 

Over the last few years God has taught this ruthlessly independent man a hard lesson. As much as I love the thrill of God speaking to me when alone in wilderness, there are things He will only say to me through other people. Different gifts to different folks, together we stand, divided we fall.  No matter how much I fast in solitude, no matter how deep I go within myself, my personal growth will be stunted, mutated, if I detach from other Christians and, as I have done many times, try to go it alone.  Jesus often went to solitary places to pray, but He also surrounded himself with 12 men. Both solitude and accountability, that’s a potent mix, and for now on, it’s how I’m going to live for the rest of my life.  

In my next blog I will describe how I found a great Church.  It was not easy.


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Comments (1) -

Canada Tanya Desjardins says:

Accountability shouldn't be an act that we put on for others, rather it should be something that we do for ourselves everyday when no one is looking.


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