The Three Temptations of Isolation

Isolation is often very attractive, and it is on the rise with no signs of slowing down. Over 20 years ago, Robert Putnam wrote a landmark article that became a book about the rise of isolation in America. He called the book Bowling Alone because his research revealed that bowling leagues and other opportunities for connection and relationships were declining. Yet bowling was not declining. In fact, the number of bowlers increased over a twenty-year period of time while the number of people in bowling leagues greatly decreased. Instead of bowling in community, people were bowling alone. Putnam wisely warned that the move toward isolation would ultimately hurt people and communities.

This was before restaurant booths filled with people staring at their phones instead of connecting with each other and before binge watching on Netflix. The move to isolation is only easier and easier, and thus more common. Yet it remains destructive. Isolation pulls us away from encouragement and from accountability.

Leaders are the ones who encourage community, who want their teams to work together well and support and encourage one another. Ministry leaders preach on the importance of biblical community. Yet leaders, the ones rightly warning against isolation, can easily be lured into isolation for three reasons:

1. No new burdens

Leading in a world that is filled with struggles and brokenness is burdensome, so there is a constant temptation to run away from it all. When overwhelmed with the burdens of today, avoiding people gives the perception that no more burdens are added.

2. No new wounds

We can easily reason that being alone can help us avoid pain and pressure and people that cause both. Though community is what heals, we can reason that isolation will hurt less.

3. No more betrayal

The longer you lead, the more likely you will be betrayed by someone you trust. When betrayed and hurting, being vulnerable in community feels dangerous and being alone feels safe.

Burdens, wounds, and betrayal are real and they make community and vulnerability risky. We will be hurt. We will be let down. Community is risky. But isolation is more so. Community is where we find encouragement and are protected from our hearts being hardened by sin’s deceit (Hebrews 3:13).


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, Eric served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
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comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
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Six Reasons to Avoid the Pitfall of Isolation

An isolated leader is a dangerous leader. The sting of criticism, the burden of the responsibilities, and the pace of leadership can nudge a leader towards isolation, but every step towards isolation is a step towards danger. Sadly, many leaders move towards isolation. They have taken the cliché “it’s lonely at the top” as justification to remove themselves from people. Though there is truth in the cliché, it must not be used to practice unwise and ungodly leadership. Here are six reasons isolated leaders are dangerous.

1. Isolated leaders don’t receive care and encouragement.

Leading is continually challenging, and leaders who don’t receive care and encouragement are in a dangerous position. But isolation makes it impossible to receive care from others.

2. Isolated leaders don’t receive necessary confrontation.

Because no one leader is perfect, every leader needs confrontation at times. An isolated leader removes himself/herself from those opportunities by only being surrounded with people who are unwilling to confront, which means spiritual maturation and growth will suffer. And a ministry leader who is not growing in godliness is dangerous. Healthy ministries are led by healthy ministry leaders.

3. Isolated leaders make foolish decisions.

The writer of Proverbs reminds us that plans fail for lack of counsel (Proverbs 15:22). An isolated leader won’t gain the perspective necessary to lead well.

4. Isolated leaders don’t learn effectively.

Leaders must continually learn, and leaders who are isolated greatly limit their learning, thus greatly limiting their effectiveness.

5. Isolated leaders are divorced from reality.

Isolated leaders are divorced from the reality of their context, so they lead in ways that are out of sync with reality.

6. Isolated leaders are removed from the people they lead.

Leaders are responsible for the people they lead, are responsible to serve and love them well. But an isolated leader can’t love and lead well, thus the people won’t receive the care they need.


> Read more from Eric Geiger.

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| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, Eric served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.