With Christmas behind us, we’re slowly getting back to our routine and back to our blog. It was important for us to spend as much time as possible with family and so we took a little break. I realize that the holidays are a lonely time for many people too. Absent family and friends, many people suffer from the pain of isolation.
As we enjoyed the blessing of family and friends, I had time to think about a topic I started in November called “Longing for a King.” Since the reason for Advent is Christ, and we wait expectantly for the arrival of the one true King, the topic is quite appropriate.
Christ restores and He is capable of restoring the king in you, He is also capable of healing loneliness and isolation. With His arrival, our hope and longing is renewed for good kings in the world. The questions at the end of the entry were:
- When can you trust a man with power? Do you long for a King? Do you long to be a good King in your realm – your home, your business, your family, your house of worship, your neighborhood, as a little league coach? What are the qualities of a good King?
I hope these questions stirred something in you. They do for me. When I need guidance, inspiration and someone to test my thoughts, I look for a sage. I learned this from one of the sages in my life: John Eldredge. My memory brought me back to the book The Way of the Wild Heart by John Eldredge. In this book, John writes about the stages of the masculine journey. At the end, when he gets to the “sage”, he doesn’t put himself in that category. He describes how he looks for better writers than himself, sits at their feet and lets their work soak into his bones. I’ve met John several times, spent time with him in intercessory prayer, learned from him at weekend retreats and read his books. I see him as a sage, even if he doesn’t. Who looks to you as a King or a Sage in their life? Do you recognize the awesome calling of your heart in those moments?
In this book John also speaks of the danger of isolation men face when assuming their kingdom: whether as father, manager, husband, co-worker, little league coach, business leader or politician (or whatever kingdom lies before you).
As I went back to John’s book and re-read that section that I hadn’t visited for awhile, something struck me as related to a Washington Post article by Anne E. Kornblut that I’d read earlier – “With a GOP Congress, Obama’s social side start to thaw.” The gist of the article is that Obama is “Solitary by nature…a man of boundaries”. A GOP congressman is quoted, “He [Obama] doesn’t suffer fools, and he thinks we’re all fools.” But the criticism comes from both sides of the aisle, “…both parties, complained about what they described as Obama’s arm’s-length treatment.” But the quote that really stuck was this, “On the first page of his autobiography, “Dreams From My Father,” Obama describes himself as a 21-year-old loner who was “prone to see other people as unnecessary distractions” and to avoid excessive social contact in his New York neighborhood.”
I went back to John’s book. John writes, “I think the greatest danger [for a good King] is isolation.” Now, I don’t want you to think that I see the President as a real king. That’s not the point. I’m speaking about his role as President. Obama has pursued the Presidency, he has yearned for it. Tell me something, do you believe that the people who didn’t want the position of “King”, or the ones who yearn for it, are the ones most qualified to hold the position? Moses didn’t want the role, but he was most qualified to hold it. David refused to take it, even though he could’ve killed Saul. It’s what made him a man after God’s heart.
Whether or not humility is one of his characteristics, Obama has assumed responsibility for the well being of you and me and the country.
John writes, “If you’ll read about the lives of kings, you’ll notice this tendency to begin to be suspicious of even their closest advisers, and how nearly all of them tend to isolate themselves over time…It’s lonely at the top. The loneliness is exacerbated by the fact…that blame moves to the top, justly or unjustly. When there’s something to complain about, blame the King. And when there are the hard decisions you have to make as a King, and those times will offend, and people will pull away from you.
Think of the men you know in positions of power. How many of them have close friendships with other men? Isolation is like a plague of office…The man becomes removed from companionship, from counsel, and from accountability. He begins to see himself as the only one who really understands, the only one with the right to rule, the only one whose opinion is valid. He will tend toward the tyrant at this point.
Isolation and loneliness. These two things didn’t bode well for King David and they don’t bode well for you or the President either. We need friendships, counsel, confidants, teachers and sages. We need humility. John reminded me that as we mature God will leave more choices in our hands. God allows us to screw up and make really bad decisions. He will allow you to decide to go to Him, or not. Jesus is available. He is the Temple, the land, the inheritance.
Resist isolation, don’t operate out of your own strength, seek rest and counsel. Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Peace to you in this wonderful season of Advent. I pray that you will seek the company of wise men in 2011.