Three things, in the right order

Jesus in solitude, community, and ministry.

This passage in the gospel of Luke shows the pattern by which Jesus ultimately practiced what we think of as “ministry.”  Jesus practicing these disciplines in a particular order that would empower his life and ministry: Solitude, Community, then Ministry.

Jesus founded his life and ministry in solitude with the heavenly Father.  Why?  Because it is in that place, one-on-one with our Creator, that we intentionally make room for him to express his divine love for us.

Then can we be equipped to live in community in a healthy, life-giving way.  All too often we get these in reverse, expecting our human community to make us feel beloved.  But we can’t expect people to love us unconditionally or perfectly, any more than we can expect ourselves to love others that way.  When our community is basically “loneliness grabbing onto loneliness” we are set up for dysfunction and disappointment.  But if we build our community upon the strength of our solitude with God — “beloved grabbing onto beloved”* — then we have the chance to experience community that freely and burdenlessly shares God’s love.

This is the power by which God’s ministry — the third step — flows through people.  Ministry at this point becomes the living and sharing of God’s love to the world out of the unquenchable experience of our own belovedness, first in solitude, then in community.

For reflection:

  1. When is the last time you intentionally made ample space to listen for God’s Holy Spirit in your life?
  2. What are you expecting from your community (church, family, friends)?
  3.  Have you ever experienced frustration, disappointment, or powerlessness in your work?
  4. How difficult would it be to begin your day in solitude with God?
  5. If you already have a habit of beginning your day in solitude with God, has it affected your interactions in community, or your work?

Many blessings,


*Henri Nouwen


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