I recently received news that a longtime ministry acquaintance, now retired had left his wife and filed for divorce. The few individuals who had the opportunity to talk to him about their concerns received no hearing. He was resolute and expressed no remorse.
This is a man who has a career of evangelical ministry behind him and in the twilight of his life has abandoned his wife. What he does not know is that this act of willful disobedience will hurt a lifetime of ministry influence.
Reflecting back on what I know about this friend there are a number of things that stand out. There is a long history of personal isolation and lack of accountability. Over the years, close friends were few. While he lived with people around him - he really lived in isolation because he did not share himself with others.
Isolation is more dangerous than we think it is. When we don't share our lives candidly with others - especially a group of trusted friends who can encourage us, speak truth to us, rub off on us, we end up living a hidden, guarded, isolated life. We neither open ourselves up honestly or are open to the influence of those around us. Isolated hearts become hard hearts because hidden parts of our life calcify rather than soften. In the end there was no one who this individual listened to - no one who could speak into his life.
A symptom of isolation is unaccountability. As I have reflected on my friend, there is a long history of his simply doing his own thing, regardless of what others said, thought or even supervisors requested. I guess this should not be a surprise: isolated hearts and lives breed unaccountability and a level of personal independence that is unhealthy - and dangerous.
While none of us know hearts my suspicion is that isolation toward others is also a symptom of isolation toward God and unaccountability toward others leads to unaccountability toward God. That is the ultimate danger in living in isolation and a lack of accountability.
I am sad, but take it as a cautionary tale for my own life.