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)

8 thoughts on “isolation processing.

  1. Thanks for this message you wrote. Was going through some things at work . It was exacly what i needed to here. Our lord is good. Thanks Terry for about 45 years of sharing the gospel to me. David

  2. Terry, What did you mean by this comment? “So I try to deny the isolation by ramping up my relational “loudness,” only making matters worst.”

  3. Hi there Thank you for this reflection, came at a good time in ministry for me. Favorite line: to find what is driving the drivenness. This exact question hit me in a prayer of desperation yesterday about a long standing ministry issue in one of my roles. And true in this instance as well that release only came when a desire and design of paradigm shift was granted to me. Good post– you are right, we all do enter isolation and with the cultural speed of our day I’m guessing it will need to occur, from God’s vantage, more often than it did to our predecessors. Blessings, Karen G



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