From its very nature, the lot of the leader must be a lonely one. He must always be ahead of his followers. Though he be the friendliest of men, there are areas of life in which he must be red to tread a lonely path. This fact dawned painfully on Dixon E. Hoste when Hudson Taylor laid down the direction of China Inland Mission and appointed Hoste his successor. After interview during which the appointment was made, the new leader, sensible of the weight of responsibility which now was his, “And now I have no one, no one but God!” In his journey to top he had left behind all his contemporaries and stood alone the mount with his God.
Human nature craves company, and it is only natural to wish to share with others the heavy burdens of responsibility and care. It is often heartbreaking to have to make decisions of far-reaching importance which affect the lives of loved fellow workers-and to make them alone. This is one of the heaviest prices to pay, but it must be paid. Moses paid this price for his leadership-alone in the mount, and alone in the plain; the crushing loneliness of misunderÂstanding and criticism and impugning of motive. And times have changed.
The prophets were the loneliest of men. Enoch walked alone in a dent society as he proclaimed the impending judgment, but he
was compensated by the presence of God. Who could have experienced the pangs of loneliness more than Jonah, as he proclaimed the message of an imminent judgment which could be averted only by immediate repentance, to a heathen city of a million souls? The loneliest preacher today is the man who has been entrusted with a prophetic message that is ahead of his times, a message that cuts across the prevailing temper of the age.
The gregarious Paul was a lonely man who experienced to the full the bitterness of being misunderstood by his contemporaries, misrepresentation by enemies and desertion by converts and friends. How poignant is his word to Timothy: “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me” (II Tim. 1:15 ).
“Most of the world’s great souls have been lonely,” wrote A. W. Tozer. “Loneliness seems to be the price a saint must pay for his saintliness.” The leader must be a man who, while welcoming the friendship and support of all who can offer it, has sufficient inner resources to stand alone, even in the face of fierce opposition, in the discharge of his responsibilities. He must be prepared to have “no one but God.”
âSpiritual Leadership,â J. Oswald Sanders