isolation processing.

(Our most popular blog post… updated)

Isolation can occur, even in the midst of a crowd.

A person in isolation often does not sense the presence of God. What they typlically use to get to God, no longer works. The familiar becomes unfamiliar.  Isolation is very much an alone time; drought, lonely and a frustrating spiritual condition.

Are you in Isolation?

Isolation processing refers to the setting aside of a Christ-follower from the normal routine of life, ministry and/or or leadership involvement. Sometimes it means complete separation from activity for a period of time.

But other times it can mean being isolated from those that surround a leader, and from their typical routine, even though they continue on in the day-to-day. You can be in isolation, and still be in a crowd.

Isolation processing occurs for a sufficient period of time in order to allow for evaluation, re-assessment and greater surrender to Christ in the life of a leader. in the isolation direction is clarified, purposes are re-defined, and values are deepen.

Isolation often drives a leader back to basics: Who we are, what we really know, who God is, what He wants from us, etc.  Isolation causes a leader to re-affirm that which really matters— and often go after that which is driving the driven-ness, and dig deeper into the issues that could be the “problem” behind the problems.

God uses times of Isolation in the formation of all of His followers, but especially in the lives of leaders.


The vast majority of leaders will experience a significant time of “isolation” at least once in his or her journey. It happened to Paul. it happened to Moses. It happened to Joesph. it will happen to you. (Dr. J. Robert Clinton, Isolation Processing). Isolation surfaces the need for paradigm shifts. A leader needs to experience God and their circumstances in new ways.

There are two types of isolation experiences — involuntary and voluntary. In either case, leaders typically will experience four-workings of God — stripping, wrestling, deepening and releasing, propelling them into the new future.

Isolation processing can also be used to launch a time of transition.  The entry phase of a transition is often filled with confusion, restlessness, lack of clarity and diminished confidence, taking a leader into Isolation. 

Isolation means struggle for me.

I am a people person. When I (Terry) go into isolation I can tell things are not right. So I try to deny the isolation by ramping up my relational “loudness,” only making matters worst. Putting a label on it has helped. Instead of fighting God, I try to go with what He is doing, and “be still, and know He is God.”

In her book, Isolation, Shelley Trebesch relates three fruitful results of isolation experiences.

1. Inward Transformation – Isolation often begins the process of breaking and stripping a former identity ans the subsequent realization of the new, and even greater identity. Joseph, Moses and Paul are prime examples of this process.

2. Spiritual Transformation – People coming our of isolation experience a renewed spirituality. They know that their faith and God’s faithfulness does not depend on circumstance, but God’s character. The Scripture state over and over again, that God was with Joseph (Gen. 39:2,3,21,23)

3. Ministry Transformation – Isolation often produces greater “voice recognition.” Its results in leaders better trained to listen to, and trust the voice of the Good Shepherd. Consequently, leaders are trained to not chase their own agenda and their motives for serving are refined.

“The one who responds to God in isolation processing is a different person afterwards, living life more maturely and ministering out of being.” (Trebesch, p. viii)

Resource: Isolation Processing (Shelly Trebesch)

forwarding your development

be-yond ||preposition, adverb

further-reaching than; happening or continuing after; having progressed or achieved more than; outside the physical limits or range.

I spent long summers in the family car, making treks across the USA, traveling from California to Florida, and back. Can’t go much farther than that in the continental US.  Four long days in the back seat, drawing lines on the vinyl upholstery that my sister could not cross, thinking we would never get there. No less, get out of Texas.

How do we keep moving as a Christ-follower? How do we move beyond where we are, to the places we feel God has called us to be? Sometimes the journey can feel like those never ending days on the road.

How do we “further-reach?

There are two-roads that I’ve discovered Christ-followers and leaders must travel. “Further-reaching” involves navigating:

(1) Situational passages, and (2) Sovereign pathways

Situational passages deal with the trees – Sovereign pathways deal with the forest. Both offer hints to how God is at work, aligning with his purposes, and moving forward.

We (Christ-followers) tend to live and invest our time only on the situational road. Trying to make life work now. God calls us to also walk with Him down the sovereign path.

You and I may be moving forward, and not even know it.

Navigating Situational passages are essential. We are called to live in the present… handle the immediate… face the daily challenges and tests.

Having the courage to walk down the Sovereign pathways is also essential. We need to see beyond… up around the bend… seeing life from God’s, bigger-picture.

“Further-reaching” is propelled by maintaining a journey on both roads. Breakthroughs come to those who courageously walk through both the situational passages and down the sovereign paths. Keeping your eyes on where you are, while simultaneously gaining insights into where God is at work, is the key to moving forward. Let’s explain further.

Two Observations:

First… Psalm 119:105 says the Word of God is a “lamp unto our feet” and a “light unto our path.” Lamp provides situational perspective, and light offers sovereign insights. The way forward requires revealed truth. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”

Second… We do not get to clarity alone. In order to move forward, we need community and trusted guides who can help us surface the answers the Spirit has already placed within. These trusted friends can often spot forward movement, especially when we think things are at a standstill.

Two sets of Questions:

To help walk down the SOVEREIGN PATH, here are some coaching topics/questions to help you gain the big-picture work and purposes of God. Hebrews 13:7,8 tells us that the way he worked in the lives of people like Daniel, David, Deborah, along with Peter, Paul and Priscilla are the same ways he is working in your life.

Coaching questions… Where have you been? What have been your defining moments, or turning points? What are the lessons God has deposited into your journey? What does the past tell us about what might be next?

To help navigate the SITUATIONAL PASSAGES, here are some coaching topic/questions to navigate the day-to-day challenges and remaining align to God’s shaping work. Remember that God shapes our lives through people, events and circumstances.

 Coaching questions… What’s right? What’s wrong? What’s missing? What’s confused?

In the recesses and crevices of these question often lies insights and answers that have yet to be discovered. I know. I have been there when they have come out in the midst of a coaching conversation. The discovery of unknown purposes often surprise the one who voices them and reveals that one’s life is moving, even when movement seems stuck.

Like we stated earlier: You and I may be moving forward, and not even know it. As you discover how God is already at work, you might be more aware of the road moving, underneath your feet, taking you to a new place.

“further-reaching” is about knowing the roads you are traveling on, and being willing to keep moving.

Are we there yet?

confessions of a yes-aholic

You may ( I hope) have noticed that I had take a break from new, blog posts!

My rhythm for posting had gotten pretty consistent; three posts a week. And it was exciting as more and more readers were joining in on the discussions. I am back writing again.

So WHY did I stop? Especially since all the expert bloggers tell you that to break your patterns means death in the blogging universe, especially if you want consistent followers.

A bigger question!

When is it right/important for a leader to say NO to doing things they love, new opportunities?

Saying NO is one of the most difficult tasks for us leader-types. There are several important reasons to say No.

When an exciting project, new opportunity and even once-in-a-lifetime ask come along along, it’s been too easy to keep convince myself that it can all be done, squeezed in, and made to work!

Back to the question… “Why did I say NO and break the momentum from my blogging?

The reason (and answer) has to do with clarity related to my unique contribution. Through some very focused reflection time using our APEX process related to my own personal development, I was able to see my MAJOR ROLE become an important decision-making tool.

MAJOR ROLE is a one-sentence description of  unique contribution. Clarity to contribution surfaces for Christ-followers somewhere in the mid 40s. It helps to provide a decision-making grid for the mid-game, and the saying of “NO!” As the demands and opportunities overwhelm our lives, it is often easy to just keep taking on more and more!

My MAJOR ROLE Statement… I resource and coach breakthrough in the lives of risk-taking, Kingdom leaders.

This time I made the choice to say “NO” to something I really enjoyed and was having a real impact (i.e. my blogging), in order to say “YES” to that which was strategic, and holding back my making my unique CONTRIBUTION.

I can tell you I have suffered in the past, and paid the price, for too many times when I did not SAY NO!

These last three months I have been finishing finishing the THREE Leadership Development processes that help leaders navigate transition moments, breakthrough and finish well. Without these finished, our contribution has been held back.

This set of  THREE leadership development discovery processes (Focused Living, APEX and Resonance) have sat, 75% completed, but not able to be replicated to others in their current state. Utilizing my MAJOR ROLE helped me make the decision.

At this moment, finishing the three core processes lent itself as the most strategic step I could make in living out my MAJOR ROLE (shown above). Without these processes completed, leaders would not have what they needed to truly breakthrough.

But a case can be made for BOTH options of blogging and the processes. Both are GOOD things that produce Kingdom fruit. How does one decide between two good things? In the past… I would have tried to do both… blown past my boundaries, and then ask others to pay for my lack of intention and even less than best work.

Clarity in my MAJOR ROLE gave me peace to step away from the GOOD option of blogging, in order to focus my efforts and time on that which was BEST in terms of making my Kingdom contribution. Decisions in the mid game are often ones of GOOD vs. BEST.

So how do YOU say NO to the GOOD… in order to say YES to the BEST?

What do you use to make (or not make) those decisions? Here is a link to our on-line, APEX process that helped me clarify my CONTRIBUTION. It may offer you the help you need.

By the way… the battle continues.

Ahead is saying NO even more.

I need to begin saying NO to speaking and training I would have said YES to just a few years ago, in order to focus my efforts on the few things God has for me to do!

Are you saying NO?





sacred space ii.


[sacred space provides a break for the norm]

“The disciplines are those activities of mind and body, purposely undertaken to bring personality and one’s total being into effective cooperation with the Spirit of God so as to reflect Kingdom life.”
—Rev. John Field

Spiritual disciplines need to be removed from the category of historical curiosities and distortions and placed on a leader’s personal agenda. When seen in their proper perspective, spiritual disciplines are means by which a leader opens himself to a greater work of God’s grace.

Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines, organizes some of the key disciplines into two main groupings.

1. Disciplines of Abstinence —Those activities that a believer chooses to do without. “In the discipline of abstinence, we abstain to some degree and for some time from the satisfaction of what we generally regard as normal and legitimate desires.” —Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines, p. 159

Examples of disciplines of abstinence: silence, fasting, chastity, frugality and sacrifice.

2. Disciplines of Engagement—Those activities that a believer deliberately chooses to do. “A proper abstinence actually breaks the hold of improper engagements so that the soul can be properly engaged in and by God” —Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines, p. 176

Examples of disciplines of engagement: study, prayer, worship and celebration, submission and servanthood.

When considering the subject of spiritual disciplines, leaders acknowledge the need for them, but often feel so overwhelmed that they set them aside for another day. The following describe key spiritual disciplines worthy of thought and greater consideration.

The Disciplines of Abstinence

Abstinence is a word that has been lost to past. Could it be that some words that have been lost and judge to be out-dated, need to be found again? Review each of these disciplines in light of ways abstinence might have value, and brought back into use in your personal development as a leader.

❏  Silence
Closing yourself off from the noise of the world. Usually done in conjunction with solitude. Turn off the radio, TV and telephone and just listen to God in quietness. The practice of not speaking. Reading or meditating on Scripture is encouraged (Lamentations 3:25–28; Isaiah 30:15).

❏ Fasting
Abstaining from food in some significant way. Some have gone for long periods of time on limited or selective food intake (Daniel and his friends). Others go completely without food. Fasting narrows our focus and heightens our dependency on God (Acts 13:2, Luke 5:33–35).

❏ Chastity
Purposefully choosing to turn away from dwelling on or engaging in the sexual dimension of our lives. For those who are married, it would mean refraining from sexual intercourse. It must be a mutual agreement, only for a relatively short period of time and only in the context of continuing a loving, positive involvement with your spouse. Never should this be done out of frustration or anger (1 Corinthians 7:5).

❏ Frugality
Abstaining from using money or goods that are at our disposal in ways that merely gratify our desires or our hunger for status, glamour or luxury. Staying within bounds of good judgment (1 Timothy 6:6–10; Philippians 4:11–13).

❏ Sacrifice
Forsaking the security of meeting our needs, which we normally feel we deserved, in order to abandon ourselves more to God. Whether it be money, time, status or effort, we give it away gladly, in pursuit of God (Luke 21:2–4; 2 Corinthians 8:1–5).


are you a safe leader?

[ are you safe ]

“Own your wounding or risk inflicting it on others!”

I will never forget hearing that line for the first time as I listened to a podcast from Men’s Retreat session taught by John Eldredge. It resonated with me, and the years I have fought through my own wounding and pathology. It also rang true with the coaching I have done with leaders down through the years.

Most leaders are not very self-aware. Fewer still have had the courage to face their stuff. We lead out of our pathology… either for the good or bad.

Many are the wounded in the context of ministry for Christ. Much of that wounding comes from leaders who have little knowledge (and acceptance) of who they are as a person first, then a leader. Many ministers (and other leaders) lead out of ambition and a heavy reliance on natural abilities, as opposed to an increased spiritual authority. Many still are those who forge ahead, regardless of what their leadership may be inflicting on others.

Edwin Friedman, in his books “Generation to Generation” and “The Failure of Nerve,” defines a leader this way:  “A leader is a self-defined person with an non-anxious presence. I have taken that definition and brought it to a point of application; “Self-defined leaders know who they are, they know who they are not, and they are okay.”

What does a self-define (self-aware) leader look like… in real life?

They are leaders who stop trying to be someone else.

They stopped trying to be who they think they should be, who others want them to be, and/or leading out of guilt, shame, ambition or lack of self-worth. Instead… they see as their greatest act of worship as a choice to be themselves.

Another way to all see is through the eyes of leadership…

Leadership is an issue of influence… much more than position. God shapes each of ours influence over time.

Influence is primarily the result of Spiritual Authority. The fragrance of Jesus on our lives, as a result of uour journey with Jesus.

Spiritual authority comes from a deeper work of Character and trust in Christ. As we go deeper in our trust, our character begins to look more like His character.

Character is shaped more often than not during our times of pain and Wounding. While all moments shape our lives, some of the most painful moments shape us more.

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 9.17.09 PM

We call this the “Influence Continuum.” And its flow works both directions.

As God takes us deeper down the continuum path, he also takes up the same path. As leaders allow God to heal the issues that often are deep within us, he grants to us greater godly, character. This builds (often unknown to a leader) a new sense of authority, which results in expanded influence.

So… back to the question… Are You Safe? And how do you know?

FOUR Categories of QUESTIONS that can Help

1. Do you know who you are… and are your comfortable with what you are? and what you are not? Do you understand how who you are, impacts others?

2. Are you aware of what the past (good and bad) may have done to you? And that your imprint on others is a result of your values and who you are, much more than your vision you communicate?

3. Do you allow others to help you… define you? We do not get to clarity alone. Have you broken the American-myth that flying “solo” and proving you can do it, is much more about ambition than Jesus.

4. Is your leadership characterized by what you “want us to see”… or by the healing Jesus continues to forge in you as you allow his redemptive work to continue in your life.

The less you know about you… the less you are safe for others.

And the less aware you are of what your pathology has done to you and your leadership… the greater the chance you will inflict your wounds on those you lead.

Something to think about.

© Terry Walling 2014

then what?

Then What?

It is not a question whether hardship, disappointment or the unexplained will happen to those who love Jesus Christ. He told us that we would not be able to escape life. It’s not if, but when, and how (John 16:33).

Bad things happen to good people. Good leaders experience deep processing. The Church often is not safe place. And those who love God have no guarantees that even the best of their efforts will turn to the good or right.

The real question is more when these hardships occur… what happens after it is all over? When the dust settles and the comforters go home. Can and will life go on? Will we just try to cope and survive, will we plateau and arrest in our development, or will we live on?

Maybe its because Robin and I love being parents and grandparents, and are more sensitive to these issues, or maybe its our life stage,  but currently …

We are watching friends walk through a tragic accident that has changed the life of their daughter, and their lives forever.

We are walking with friends who have had to live through the horror of the unexplainable loss of a son.

Last night I had dinner with yet another leader who still trying to live on after losing a son in a unexplained car crash eight years ago.

Its all around all of us.

Along with these, are are the many of us who have experienced leaders who have changed, received wounds from the Godly, and face the pain of those who we love not knowing or living for Christ.  It’s sometimes feels like it is all too much.

Often just surviving the crucible of the initial pain of the moment is enough, but what will life looks like after these days move past the painful moment… that often is the bigger question.

Watch Jake’s story and wonder out loud with me what his story can say to all of our stories.

Living On!

After watching, Jake reminded me (and I think all of us) that somehow life was meant to be lived on… even after the unexplainable and the pain. And yes… there are mysteries with our God. Asking the “why” often is greeted with silence. We serve a God of the revealed, and the unrevealed. It will always be that way.

Jake also gave me eyes to to see into the pain that shows in the eyes of my friends. Light and life shows through the cracks in faith that moments like these create in all of us. Christ-followers and leaders alike will face moments of deep processing. It’s been said that all people who follow Christ, and make a difference in this life, walk with a limp.

If Christianity is going to be lived, it must be lived out as it seeks to be lived on.

If our faith is to be an authentic faith, as opposed to a “perfect faith” then there must be the wrestling not only with painful moments, but with all the moments of life. And there also must be the times and the challenges of finding how to live life and faith, after the pain.

I hurt when I watch from the sidelines as my friends (and those I coach) try to find life after the pain. I teach others that negative processing shapes character. It’s true! But it is easier to instruct others that truth, than to see it in the tears of  friends, or when our lives are cornered by life, and forced to confront the fact that we believe… but Lord help our unbelief.

To all our friends who face this part of life right now…

To those who are trying to work out life beyond the pain…

To all who been hurt by Christian leaders, who have been overlooked by the ambitious,  who have been treated unjustly again, and who are facing the unexplained…

We together applaud the courage it takes to not only cope with what life has dealt… but also the battle to continue to live on, after the immediate begins to see other days.

And from my vantage point, I want you to know that questions like…

“Will I/we still trust in Christ in the days ahead?”

“Will I/we still risk life and step out again to live by faith?”

“Will I/we make it when the comforters have all left?”

And… “Can I/we really do life, after life has dealt a blow?”

These are questions DO NOT lack of faith. Those questions(I believe) are the questions by people of faith!

And as I/we listen into your pain, it never grows old to hear talk about your efforts… your work… you fight to work your way through life, to get to life.

Questions like these are courageous… they must be ask in order to not be overcome by the challenges of “living on!”

How will we each live on… when our these moments come into our lives? Jake found a way to live… and to live on… even with purpose. It was ability to let God be God, and his faith. I believe we can too!

© Terry Walling 2014

on-line community. possible?

Is it Possible to Have Community… Virtually?

Is it even possible to build a sense of community when you are not physically present? In conference calls? In On-line tele-classes or classrooms? Within threaded discussions?

Before we go after the topic… a humorous look at why virtual has its challenges and limits. Take a look!

It’s popular to minimize the impact of the virtual, but with the cost of travel and lodging, and the growing limits to resources, all point to the reality, and place, for the electronic. What can virtual do for an individual or a group?

  1. Sense of belonging. Communities are places where members “first” feel a sense of belonging; where participants sense they are part of the group. You can gain an initial level of connection from the on-line.
  2. Mutual support.  While on-line is limited to help people handle major life problems, healing and real-life transformation, if done right it can offer a connect that members otherwise would not have access to.
  3. Collective influence. Participating in a group can create greater level commitment; we are better together. On-line communities encourage those who are geographic/functionally isolated. They help tribes and tribal members not feel so alone.
  4. Exploration. They allow members to explore new ideas and approaches that previously would not have been  accessible to them, and link to resources they had not known about or found.

Having interacted in the world of phone conference calls,  Skype coaching and GoToMeeting tele-classes over the last ten years, here are some thoughts in light of our passion to see breakthrough and transformation.

THREE Lessons About Community-Technology

Build Community First with Face-to-Face

Some of the most effective times I have experienced in on-line community, have first been preceded by intensive face-to-face, on-site community. The most effective on-line tele-classes I have led were preceded by our our 4-day, on-site Coach Certification Training.

Understand the Value of Both

Use on-line, phone interaction conferencing, and threaded discussions to prepare individuals for meeting,  dispense new information and ideation, or extend the learning of core paradigms. Leave the processing, application and moments of healing/transformation to the face-to-face, with real-time reactions.

Face-to-Face Online Better than Threaded

Skype or GoToMeetings where video are involved are not like being in the same room, but they are better than threaded or phone alone. Seeing is believing. Coaching and meetings where there is at video face-to-face can build a limited sense of community.

THREE Simple Practices When Using the On-line for Community-Teaching

Pace – When using on-line… always be conscious of pace. Keep things moving. Know where you want things to go, and do not let things drag. Pace helps to overcome the distractions that are all around the participants.

Vary – When using on-line… always be unpredictable. From meeting to meeting, from one training approach to the next, use a constant variety of approaches and methods to keep meetings interesting and curious.

Call Out – Keep a list of who you call on. Keep all the people involved. Call on them randomly. Change the type of feedback you ask for: “What do you think?” “Rank that for me!” “Trouble shoot that?” “Bob role play that with Mary.”

© Terry Walling 2014