I recently read an article by Lori Brewer Collins that really got me thinking about my personal leadership journey over the last 3 years.
One of the key points that really stood out to me was: “As you move up the ranks of an organization, you have fewer and fewer people to talk with who can connect with what matters to you in your leadership role. The higher you sit in the organizational structure, the more isolated you are likely to feel. But this is a normal experience – even though it can be tough on the soul. As you advance organizationally, it’s not unusual for the isolation to go up, as well. Contributing factors include the scope of your role, the scale of your responsibility, the number of people you oversee, and the sheer visibility of what you say and do.”
She goes on to share some common patterns she has observed among leaders struggling with the isolation factor:
1) You might be isolated if you feel like you’re carrying most of your responsibilities by yourself.
2) You might be isolated if you have to watch what you share.
3) You might be isolated if negative emotions are dominating your life.
While reading this article, I thought of 1 Peter 5:8 several times: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
As a photographer and tour guide, I have had the privilege of watching lions hunt many times. Their stealth, strength and ferocity are to be admired and respected. Their roar when experienced close up can be quite terrifying and the vibrations can be felt deep inside your very being – a lion’s roar can be heard from as far as 8km (5 miles) away!
Something, as a leader, to bear in mind is, when a lion is out hunting, it has done all the hard work before it closes in on its prey for the kill.
What do I mean?
Before going in for the kill a lion has already sized up its prey, taken into account the wind direction, determining the direction of approach, stalked it, positioned itself patiently before bursting out of its hiding in a way to isolate the prey from the protection of the herd, creating panic so it does not think clearly about its defensive response. Under such fear, panic and stress, the prey often fatigue quickly and try desperately to get back to the safety of the herd. The prey is now confused and disorientated; perfect conditions for the final blow to be struck. Death is imminent!
As Christian leaders, 1 Peter 5:8 encourages us to be sober minded and watchful!
Dictionary.com defines “sober minded” as: Being rational and sensible. It defines “watchful” as: Being vigilant or alert.
So we are called to be rational, sensible, vigilant and alert because our enemy prowls around seeking an opportunity to devour us. this is quite a sobering thought!
Imagine if you lived in a neighborhood where a serial killer was on the loose. What protective measures would you put in place? Would you be reactive or proactive?
Is this any less of a threat because it’s “spiritual”?
“A lion has roared! Who will not fear?” Amos 3:8 . This challenges us.
We know we do not have to live in fear as scripture is very clear: “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4. While we do not have to live in fear for any reason, we must, however, be wary of being ignorant of the dangers around us too!
– Are you in danger of isolating yourself?
– Have you started to prioritize paperwork and administration over peoplework and relationships?
– Are you moving away from the protection of the heard (the Church & accountability)?
– Are you possibly being lined up by a roaring lion seeking to devour you right now?
– What pastures are you currently feeding in: lush green open fields where you can see dangers for many miles, or dry pastures with many hidden dangers and places for the enemy to be lying in wait?
– Is there any high risk, dangerous or sinful habits creeping into your life that you are aware of?
– If so, what is your escape plan or exit strategy? What are you doing about it? Who are you allowing yourself to be genuinely accountable to?
What is your escape strategy?
In Genesis 39:12 Joseph is approached by Potiphar’s wife: “she caught him by his garment, saying, ‘lie with me.’ But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.” (ESV)
Sometimes the best strategy is just to run! Not to merely run from temptation or sin, but to run into the loving arms of our Savior for refuge, peace and strength.
Perhaps you are in a good position, a great vantage point, where you can see a friend who is in danger. A friend who is possibly unaware of the stalking lion or its proximity. How are you going to help?
Let us be aware how the enemy uses isolation as a might weapon to cause us to lose focus of God’s will and purpose for our lives.
As a leader, beware of the camouflaged danger of isolation – it seems so harmless – but let’s stop fooling ourselves because it’s deadly!