Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

My isolation in the DminLgp program!

Written by: on March 20, 2015

Lone-tree-on-an-islandWhen I decided to pursue further studies, I was excited about the adventure, but I was also on the lookout for the possible signs of isolation.  This is because a friend had told me about how isolating doctoral studies can tend to be. Research also shows that isolation remains a prime factor as to why many students experience attrition during doctoral studies.[1]

Growing up in Uganda, isolation was an anomaly since I was always surrounded by loved ones. We had each other’s back from house to house in the village. When a mate was out of salt, she or he could get some from the neighbor’s house because of the open door communal policy. In victorious times, we danced, played drums and sang together. During miserable times, we lamented and mourned as one. In fact, due to living in such a close and caring village, it was easy to detect any feelings of isolation. At the hint of one person keeping to one ‘self, the elders, mothers, aunties and uncles, would inquire, “What is wrong and why are you alone?” Culturally, it is not good for a person to be alone. Isolation was not a positive attribute most of the time, expect when it served retributive purposes through extreme disciplinary measures and punishments for unaccepted behavior.

In contract to isolation, we were taught to value a healthy amount of solitude. Solitude was what Jesus desired when he ” … went away to pray early in the morning.” (Mark 1:35)

The likelihood of isolation upon starting the doctoral seemed far away during the initial days, until I was told about the weekly blogging process on tumblr, opening up a twitter account and the need tag my weekly posts correctly. Not only that, but I needed to work on the PLDP, MLP and visual ethnography exercise, oh my foot!! Isolation seemed like the best choice at that time. What followed was the advance in London and I thought to myself, “What does traveling to Europe have to do with the Dmin?” And there was the monster of all- KATE Turabian’s manual.

The good news is that the isolation from the initial confusion, only lasted a few days since the leadership of the Dmin and my advisor were of great help as they responded back to my inquiry in a timely manner. So the feelings of isolation at the beginning of the Dmin program where short leave.

Even though I had been through similar processes in my previous programs, granted that certain aspects of the Dmin were still new; my main challenge at the time was that I was going back to school after spending a couple of years traveling internationally while doing global health and development work.

Due to my earlier days in the Dmin programs, I can understand how new students might begin to feel isolated.  New students, are normally faced with trying to figure the confusion about the syllabus, classes and online stuff. The feeling of isolation can happen during the different stages of orientation. For example, I did my best to keep up with the newness of the Dminlgp program, but during particular times of confusion about the requirements of the program, I felt a little bit of isolation.

Let me demonstrate how isolation might creep in for a new student in the Dminlgp #…  If the student does not have a clear understanding about the requirements of the program, the feelings of isolation might quickly grow into feelings of being left behind and overwhelmed.  When I experienced the feelings of isolation, it was always helpful when I asked for clarity and I was met with gentle and repetitive communication.

Isolation happens in life, yet even then, Shelley shows the up side of isolation in her book Isolation: A Place of Transformation in the Life of a Leader: Shelley writes about how the experience of isolation “forms a hunger for and a deepened relationship with God which will affect all future ministry since ministry flows out of being.”[2]

[1] Hawlery, P. Being bright is not enough. (Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas. 2003), 43.

[2] Shelley Trebesch, Isolation: A Place of Transformation in the Life of a Leader (Altadena, CA: Barnabas Publishers, 1997), 44.

About the Author

Michael Badriaki

6 responses to “My isolation in the DminLgp program!”

  1. Indeed Michael, isolation can take place in higher education. Not only through the confusion of the requirements of the program but also by the very nature that you are doing something a very small percentage of the population in ministry even desires to do. I’ve had ministers look at me with incredulous expressions asking me why I am getting a DMin. Somehow they think that you are trying to be too heady and not spirit led. Or that you are burying your head in books as opposed to doing the real work of ministry. Because of our choice to be educated ministers there is a built in isolation factor. Again, this goes back to Noll’s book. By simply choosing to be educated or a scholar within the realm of ministry isolates you from others in the ministry. This is until you publish a popular book and suddenly everyone wants to be your friend. Suddenly, your education becomes a positive rather than negative issue. Oh the fickleness of the church. Text me anytime you have a question 24/7/ 365!! Here is my number again. Mitch @ 904-424-3405

    • Michael Badriaki says:

      Mitch, thanks for the comments. You are right and some church folk and their reactions towards learning. Isn’t it interesting how much people in the church have to say towards education? Christians ought to excited about learning especially if it’s going to be of use during ministry practice.

      All I can say is that I am glad that we’ve got each other and we continue to match forward and finish the race.

      Thanks for the number. I’ll call soon 🙂 !!

  2. John Woodward says:

    Michael, what wonderful insights in your post this week. I very much appreciate your insights into communal life of our home village. What you describe is different for my neighborhood, where if one wants to be “isolated” he/she has ever right and we just leave them be (free choice and all!). But, we are missing out on those vital relationships that I believe we are created for. It is refreshing to read about situations like your’s where community connection is still alive and still vital. But, how do you balance this kind of close knit community with carving out time and connection with God? Or am I just to western in my thinking, that God is only found in one-on-one communication, rather than finding and experience God in community? I wonder too if this what bother people when Jesus went off…could that have gone against his social habits, that being alone meant something was wrong! Do you then find your vital involvement with God comes more through your involvement with others than structured times alone? (Michael, you got me very curious! Sorry for all the questions! I simply appreciate your insights and perspective.) Thanks for making me to think once again – which is why I have appreciated the Dminlgp program – it connects me with a wider world of people and ideas (no isolation here!). Thanks Michael!

    • Michael Badriaki says:

      John thanks for your kind comments. I believe that I loved what it means to loved in my village. This is why I can easy see the extremes of individualism and the self centered obsession with “community” that are present in certain contexts.
      Village life is not about perfection, it is really about harmony and respect. The community aspect comes naturally as well.

      In the village we can find personal time to rest, pray, do other things and also spend time with others. It is both and not either, or.

      Some of our most spiritually fervent and vibrant times in the village are found in connection of being devoted to God, devoted one another with honor, generosity and hospitality. Those are cultural values and Paul also affirms them in scripture when He writes, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

      Thanks John for the timely questions!

  3. Liz Linssen says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience Michael. Indeed, it’s not easy to separate ourselves to focus on something, including pursuing a D.Min!
    But as Trebesch teaches, the whole point of isolation, whether chosen or enforced, is to increase our dependancy on our God and deepen our relationship with Him. I know that need has arisen in me – recognising huge weaknesses and realising only God can meet them. Praise Him that we are never alone and never abandoned!

  4. Julie Dodge says:

    “Oh my foot!”

    Thank you, Michael, for a new colloquialism. This made me smile. And yes, that overwhelming feeling of all of these things that need to get done. It is challenging to figure your way through, and yet you did. I did. We did.

    I truly appreciated your sharing about community growing up. So very different than my own world. And I sometimes wonder if some of the people whom I watch flounder in their relationships with others (especially in leadership) would be different if our western culture embraced community differently. I suppose that some of this is a product of geography and design – separate, isolated homes with locks on the doors – but I wonder if we might trust each other more if we had lived as you did. Or if something did go awry (someone wronged someone in the community) there perhaps was trust that the whole community would respond. It seems better to me. Now I have something else to ponder…

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