Where Questions Get Answered

Do you recall the story of Elijah?

It is found in the book of 1 Kings. He has just come through a war with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Jezebel criticizes him and he implodes. Fear drives him far into the wilderness until 40 days later, he ends up in a cave. God’s arrival is attended by a spectacular display:

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:11-13).

Elijah is dejected.

Several times he feels that he is alone in the fight (18:22, 19:14). I have felt that way too. In fact, I feel that way this morning. (It comes and goes, residual waste still leaching from my burn out two years ago!) It demands that I be constantly vigilant about this feeling that visits with no prior warning. Like an unwanted guest, it just shows up and stays as long as it so desires.

Sometimes ministry is like a wind that tears the mountains apart, and other weeks find me in the midst of an earthquake and fire. But it is not until I get alone that I can ask the right questions and find some answers that will resolve my inner discouragement.

God’s Tolerance Limits?

Funny. I used to be able to do this without taking a breath in between. Maybe it’s age. But then again, maybe it’s God simply saying that He won’t tolerate it anymore. I mean, me pushing the limits andmaking mistakes in leadership due to tiredness. I used to do that and though there was collateral damage, we just pressed on. I guess when you get older and your mantle of influence increases; the Kingdom will be damaged in a greater way by poor decisions that will leave too many in body bags.

I noticed that recently with a leader in our movement. In a meeting, his harsh words toward one of my peers caught me by surprise. It was uncalled for and extremely punitive. If a peer in a circle of peers said it, the charged words would not have even detonated. But in a meeting such as this one, and being spoken by a leader, it had repercussions that people are still reeling from.

Getting in a Cave

We as leaders need to take time to soothe our souls and take the edge off. For Elijah, it was a cave, and finding time for caves becomes increasingly more important as our influence increases.

In a few days, I am slated to get away into a “cave.” I will be writing a book (on “burnout,” no less) and I will do something that doesn’t relate at all to ministry(I am building a barn!)

But then again, I think it does. It has everything to do with ministry. It will give me time to rethink and recalibrate. I will be able to check my gyros that balance my family and ministry. I will take some time to read books (What I am Reading) and I will finish my planning for the months ahead.

I will revisit what is most important in my life and recommit myself to these values.

Here are the five:

  • A deep relationship with Christ that is genuine.
  • A healthy ministry that overflows into resourcing other leaders.
  • A genuine marriage and a close family.
  • A healthy body and a soul that is free to be creative.
  • Time to enjoy life with family and friends.

I will not apologize for this season. I will not see it as a barren one.

It will instead, be the preface to a fruitful one.

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