Friday, December 24, 2010

Life In THE CAVE - Isolation, Self-Pity and Hopelessness

What is ministry life like in THE CAVE (the place where ministry becomes misery)? In our last posting we saw that life in THE CAVE for the prophet Elijah was one of FEAR (1 Kings 19:3). But there are also three other descriptions of life in THE CAVE:

ISOLATION (1 Kings 19:3-4)

When Elijah left due to the threats of wicked Queen Jezebel, he ran as far south as he could go. He not only left behind his new founded supporters after winning the battle on Mt Carmel against the 450 prophets of Baal, but he also left behind his most trusted servant. That's what life in THE CAVE does. It causes you to isolate yourself and become an island all to yourself. Elijah found himself sitting all alone under a juniper tree and then ultimately in THE CAVE. Have you isolated yourself due to the ministry opposition you are facing? If so, you might be in THE CAVE.

SELF-PITY (1 Kings 19:10, 14)

When you are in THE CAVE all of your thoughts are inward focused. In Elijah's case he developed a "martyr" complex. Look at his words:

"I (as opposed to everyone else) have been jealous for God"

"I am the only one left who really serves God"

"Everyone is out to get me"

It's as if you can hear him saying, "No one likes me. Everyone hates me. I think I'll go eat worms." This is what THE CAVE will do to you.

HOPELESSNESS (1 Kings 19:4)

For Elijah, his hopelessness went the full mile. He simply wanted to die. Life was no longer worth living and death seemed far more appealing. Elijah felt completely useless seen by these words,

"And he (Elijah) requested of himself that he might die, and said, 'It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.'" (1 Kings 19:4)

And it is at this point that many a pastor bails out of ministry for good. After all, who can be expected to live a ministry life filled with fear, isolation, self-pity and hopelessness. But wait! There is a way out of THE CAVE. Beginning in my next post I will share four steps to get out of THE CAVE. These steps worked for Elijah. They can also work for you. And if you are a hurting pastor who has found yourself deep in THE CAVE where ministry becomes misery, these next few posts may just be the greatest Christmas present you will receive this year!

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