Overcoming My Elijah Complex: How ten other national ministry leaders remind me I’m not alone

Dec 16, 2016 | Sean Cullen

I Often Suffer From An Elijah Complex

In 1 Kings 19, we discover Elijah tired, defeated, and proud. He was facing some extreme challenges, and in the process he had come to believe that he was the only one seeking to serve God in the midst of that challenge.

We read that not once, but twice, God asked him, “What are you doing here Elijah?” God was asking Elijah, why his heart was in this place of defeat. And twice Elijah answered that he felt defeated because he was the “only one left” who was zealous to serve the Lord in the midst of opposition.

When The Burden Of The Mission Feels Overwhelming

There are over two million post-secondary students in Canada. My heart has been burdened by the Lord for every single one of them. I long for the day when not one of those students would graduate without engaging with the life-changing message of Jesus. I truly believe that Jesus changes everything and that as students are changed by him, they will change the world for him.

But there are significant challenges… Internal ones that can distract and interfere with the mission. External pressures that threaten our access to students. Organizational challenges with capacity that limit our ability to accomplish our God-given mission of engaging each student with the gospel.

When I consider how my heart is burdened and I see all those challenges we face, I can become discouraged. I am tempted to stand before the Lord and complain, “I alone am left in this place of challenge.”

How I know I’m Not Alone

In late November, I had the incredible privilege of gathering with the national leaders from a number of other Canadian Christian organizations.  These leaders are also seeking to serve the Lord with zeal amongst today’s generation of students. We met last year for the first time and it was a highlight of 2015. My time with them earlier this month was no different. We met in Ottawa for two days to pray for one another and for the students of this country.

This group of leaders I am privileged to pray with and serve alongside. When we were together, I shared my struggle with an Elijah complex with them. I mentioned that one of my great hopes was to come away from our two days of prayer together—a mountain top experience—with a new perspective.

This hope was fulfilled and then surpassed as I witnessed these men and women share vulnerably through their joys and challenges. I watched the Lord use us to encourage each other and speak deeply into one another’s lives.

When the Lord speaks into our place of defeat

In 1 Kings 19, the Lord speaks to Elijah in his defeated, tired and alone state. This is worth pausing to consider. Our God is a God who speaks and ministers to us in grace. In his grace, the Lord gently lets Elijah know that he is not alone, and that there is still more for him to do.

I walked out of these prayer meetings feeling very much less alone. I’ve also realized there is much more to do. As this amazing group of leaders wrapped up our time in prayer together, we shared a deep sense of expectancy: God wants us do something new in this generation, something that will require us to work together.

Onward Together

In the coming months, we’ve committed to continuing to prioritize time to listen to the Lord together and search for what it is that he would instruct us to do together.

Would you join us in prayer? Pray with us that God would knit our hearts together so that every student would lean into a conversation about who Jesus is and many would experience his transforming love.

And be encouraged as you face challenge in your world. The Lord has not left you alone, that’s just not his way.

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About the Author

Sean Cullen

Sean serves as the National Director of Power to Change – Students, leading P2C on its mission to help students discover Jesus and mobilizing the organization to focus and increase capacity for the task at hand: to be able to see the day when not one of the 2.5 millions students in Canada graduates without engaging in the life-changing message of Jesus Christ.