A third shadow common among leaders is “functional atheism,” the belief that ultimate responsibility for everything rests with us. This is the unconscious, unexamined conviction that if anything decent is going to happen here, we are the ones who must make it happen – a conviction held even by people who talk a good game about God.
This shadow causes pathology on every level of our lives. It leads us to impose our will on others, [to get resentful and frustrated], stressing our relationships, sometime to the point of breaking. It often eventuates in burnout, depression, and despair...
The gift we receive on the inner journey is the knowledge that ours is not the only act in town. Not only are there other acts out there, but some of them are even better than ours, at least occasionally! We learn that we need not carry the whole load but can share it with others, liberating us and empowering them.
This has been such a significant "inner journey" in my own life... to look at my own burnout and recognize that I am carrying ministry in a god-like fashion by taking on responsibility as though the salvation of the world depends on me.
God is God, I am just called to take part in community with others and let the Holy Spirit carry both the lead and the responsibility. What a freedom this is!
And how desparately today's church fights against this freedom!
Many want to to carry undue responsibility. This feeds their need to be needed. This feeds their unconscious need to be "at the top." And... many others want to let others carry the load! This allows them to remain comfortably coddled in their spiritual life.
The inner journey and solitude frees us to just be his children and to discover the joy in relating to God freely and worshipfully as the Sovereign that He is. We can begin to peel off our unconscious needs and masks, and simply be human, enjoy community, and let God be God.