It was like any other Wednesday. I got up early to write, followed by getting the kids breakfast and to school. After listening to the usual carpool bickering, I raced across town ending up at my church office. I was exhausted, and it was only 8:30 am! Deadlines in both my professional and family life kept me moving faster than was healthy for my soul. One day, up against the pressure, I stopped. I had to get off the hamster wheel of life and ministry long enough to think again, breathe in new ideas again and most importantly—hear God again.
The troubling part is that I was busy writing spiritual growth books, but I hadn’t slowed down long enough to grow myself. Life had gotten too noisy to hear God’s stirring in my own soul. From the outside things looked great. I led a thriving women’s ministry, taught a weekly Bible study to hundreds of women, and God was opening doors in both speaking and publishing. It was a ministry dream come true. After signing a four-book publishing contract, I was consumed with writing to help others grow, while unknowingly becoming stunted myself.
The Courage to Make a Change
It took courage to step back and pause. I asked to change my office hours so I could drop off the kids and go back home for some time alone with God. I couldn’t remember the last time I was connected, but I certainly realized how consumed with ministry I had become.
I quickly realized that in our fast-paced culture pausing is not popular. We like to talk about productivity, vision and the next steps. Webinars, books and classes lead us to be the most productive self we can possibly be. But what if being productive actually included a pause? What if a temporary stop is exactly what we need today to produce more tomorrow?
The idea of a pause being productive turned things upside down for me. Prior to that I had word count goals and plans for what writing needed to be done and when. Neither of those things are bad in and of themselves, it’s just that a pause would make me more productive, so I learned to schedule that in first.
Rather than stretching myself for a certain word count each day, I stretched myself to the uncomfortable place of pause each day. A pause is a like a comma, indicating a change in voice. And I needed to hear God’s voice. A change of voice changed my ministry and gave me a respect for the words I penned. The pause became a place of sacred responsibility. Hearing a word from God to my own heart enabled me to pour out words on the page from his heart to others.
Learning to Linger with God
I like the word linger. Something beautiful happens when we linger in God’s presence, taking time to take in his Word, being sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Much like tithing, when we give time to God first, he expands the time that we have. When we dare to pause, he shows up and is pleased to work in and through us.
What about you? As a Christian communicator, are you taking time to hear from God each day? Are you carving out a place of peace in the middle of real-life responsibilities? Getting caught up in writing as a higher calling is easy to do, but let us never forget that the higher calling is one of following Jesus and being connected to him, first and foremost.
Sit with these few questions as you consider your schedule and if you need to develop the habit of productively pausing.
- Do you feel the need to get off the hamster wheel of busyness?
- Do you prepare and plan for a pause each day?
- What does your pause look like?
- How does God show up for you when you wait on him?
- Are you too busy to pause?
I forget sometimes and have to pull myself back to what is most important.
I close, pausing to pray for us, right from 1 Thessalonians 5:23:
“Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.”
God gave me productive pause
in these past few days,
to think upon life’s hard-fast laws,
and His blessing ways.
Something went and tore inside;
sneeze or cough, and then I scream,
and now it’s time to put down pride
and set aside the writing dream
to watch the shadows of the clouds
chase dogs across the yard,
to take the pain and not be cowed,
for although life has gotten hard
and it’s a game I’m bound to lose,
happiness is mine to choose.
I truly love your last line, Andrew: “happiness is mine to choose.”
That’s something I definitely need reminding of now and then.
Elissa, thank you!
Choosing happiness is not really an event, at least for me. It’s a process, one that needs nurturing.
Oh…I love this. A process that needs nurturing. Thank you!
happiness in mine to choose…yes
Amen to this. I’ve been feeling this prompting over the last few months, the pull to pause and make margins so that what I am doing is not just fruitful but sweet. Thank you for sharing this reminder and encouragement.
All of us need margin and to encourage one another.
Kristen Joy Wilks
“God will make this happen.” What a beautiful truth!!! My husband and I work in full-time camping ministry and this is so important to hear as we gallop full tilt toward summer camps. Summer means that most work days are 17-18 hour days for my husband and that we work seven days a week almost every week from mid-June part way into August. We absolutely need to pause. That sometimes means a walk in the forest or even ten minutes talking alone in the middle of the Chaos, but it is vital. Thank you for the reminder, Debbie.
You really have a heavy schedule coming up. Yet to be aware of the need to pause as you go into this summer, will make all the difference. Thank you for all you do. God sure uses summer camps!
The longer I pause the more God gives me to write about.
100% true for me too Susan!
Thanks Debbie, confirmation of what God has been speaking to my heart.
I LOVED this post. Thank you so much for the reminder I need to not only have my quiet time with Jesus each day, but also carve in a pause to “linger” just because I love Him and want to take time to just be quiet and listen to Him. Rest and enjoy being with Him. What a treadmill this world encourages us to hop on! Thanks for the encouragement to jump off!
On this journey together,
I have a short book out that is very complimentary to your post here. It is called By The Pool With Expounding Notes by Pennname Founder Step.
My current life and environment is like a harvest field for writing and authors. It’s almost So Unbelievable…….
I found you on querytracker.net.