Before I suggest 8 benefits of solitude and leadership, here’s a quick definition of each, as they are both cousins to each other. They both go hand in hand and without silence, solitude has little effect. In essence they are practices of NOT doing something–not interacting with society and people–withdrawing from human contact, voice, noise, phone, tv, radio, newspaper, etc… for a few minutes or a few days. The following definitions combine thoughts of Dallas Willard, John Ortberg, and Richard Foster. When I speak of silence and solitude below, I will speak of them as one thing.
- Solitude: The practice of temporarily being absent from other people (in isolation or anonymity) and other things so that you can be present with God. Its not loneliness nor is it getting away from people just because we don’t like them. It’s more about what we do with our bodies.
- Silence: The practice of voluntarily and temporarily abstaining from speaking so that certain spiritual goals might be sought. It’s about what we do with our tongues, what we say.
Solitude and leadership is a tool God uses to restore our souls by breaking engagements with the world. It is really more of a state of heart than a place. Granted, it does include awayness from others, but as you mature you can even be in a huge crowd and experience the rejuvenating power it offers. On the other hand you can become a hermit and never experience its power.
Here are 8 practical benefits of solitude and leadership.
1. It (they) break the power of hurry, our addiction to a ‘have-to-do-this’ mentality.
Willard explains it this way. The person who is capable of doing nothing might be capable of refraining from doing the wrong thing. And then perhaps he or she would be better able to do the right thing.
It helps create an inner space for us to become aware of what we are doing and are about to do.
2. It helps renew our souls.
Francis de Sales who in the late 1500’s developed sign language to teach deaf about God wrote, “There is no clock, no matter how good it may be, that doesn’t need resetting and rewinding twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. In addition, at least once a year it must be taken apart to remove the dirt clogging it, straighten out bent parts, and repair those worn out. In like manner, every morning and evening a man who really takes care of his heart must rewind it for God’s service . . . Moreover, he must often reflect on his condition in order to reform and improve it. Finally, at least once a year he must take it apart and examine every piece in detail, that is every affection and passion, in order to repair whatever defects there may be.
The Bible speaks pointedly to this idea.
- Be silent before the Lord God! (Zeph 1.7)
- My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. (Ps 62.5-6)
- For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said, ‘In repentance and rest you shall be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.’ (Is 30.15)
3. It reminds us that life will still go on without us
Solitude and leadership interrupts the cycle of constantly having to manage things and be in control. It breaks us from a sense of being indispensable.