Power in the Pause
AUSE. A temporary stop; a break in a verse; temporary inaction; a mark used in writing or printing to correspond to a pause of voice (Merriam-Webster).
At this point there is quite a bit of research on the benefits of rest. Of rejuvenation. Of taking some time to get away from the daily grind of work and activities. Stress can impact our physical and mental health – so taking time to de-stress is a part of responsible living. Vacation can be a type of Pause – if we do it right.
There are ways to PAUSE on the daily though, and we don’t consider these types of pauses enough. We are often quite intentional about the bigger, longer vacation Pause. But we aren’t as well versed about making frequent, intentional pauses a part of our daily rhythm.
I talk fast. The general cadence of my voice is quick and designed to get as many words in as possible – because really, there is so much to say! Why waste a minute on silence? Hah- that is not the best approach when caring for people. It took training with some amazing group facilitators for me to really understand how powerful “sitting in silence” can be. It is uncomfortable for a group of people to sit and say nothing, but the power of the Processing Pause will bring so much more to the eventual conversation. Ask a question, PAUSE for processing, let the answers begin. Mistakenly, individuals asking the questions will often try to fill the silence instead of waiting.
When filling the silence, we lose the power of the pause.
In his books, Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln: 21 Powerful Secrets of History’s Greatest Speakers, James C. Humes dedicates his entire first chapter to “the power in the pause.” Humes discusses how the greatest way to provide emphasis and meaning while speaking, is to take extra time to allow for processing between important phrases. Instead of a raised voice or an angry tone, the secret is to create moments of silence where a listener can let the truth sink in. Often, we yell, when really, we would achieve better ends by simply taking a moment to PAUSE.
This is often true in parenting, in relationships, in our work life and in our homes. Not only is the pause valuable in getting our point across, or in how we facilitate a discussion, but it also provides a moment for regrouping. A time for us to pull ourselves together when a situation is getting the best of us. James talks about this when he admonishes his brothers to consider carefully their words by slowing down how quickly they speak.
James 1:19-20 – “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
We cannot be slow to speak if we do not PAUSE. Part of measuring our words and slowing the quickness of the tongue is stopping speech altogether. It’s okay to not have a quick come back or take down. It’s okay to take a moment, process, and then respond with words created during a powerful moment of silence.
Another demonstration of the Power in the Pause – is to consider how we do or do not “wait before the Lord.” There is a calmness that comes to mind when reading Psalms of rest and careful reflection. Even in understanding the human responsibility to work, and our need for purpose and productivity, God is careful to pepper in Bible passages with intentional moments of stillness.
Psalm 37:7 – “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.”
Staying busy is a tool of distraction created in a culture full of future instastories and social media posts. Our present becomes about the next adventure or moment to capture, instead of about the people in front of us and the role we fill in ministering to people around us. Even our desire to serve and work hard can make it difficult to “wait patiently for him.” Work and productivity are valuable and necessary. However, we are easily caught up preparing for the next thing and the next and the next, until it becomes impossible to sit in the moment.
Being still takes some intentional, mental kneecapping. The type of stillness God asks of us requires extended moments of reflection, of focus. What are we expecting when we take advantage of a time to PAUSE and wait for the Lord. The power in this stillness is more than just a momentary pause in conversation, it is a determination to put ourselves in alignment with God’s purposes.
Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God.”
When we PAUSE with the purpose of knowing God, waiting patiently for him, and reflecting on his goodness, we cannot help but move through our day with a significance that adds peace to our interactions, and a calmness to our hearts. As we feel our hearts quicken during the next stressful moment, or our minds anger at a person who wrongs us, the Pause becomes a superpower. A moment for us to ponder God’s glory while considering our own frailty. A moment for us to remember we are not the Creator but are instead the created. A moment for us to be still and know who God is, and wait patiently for him to provide what we need in the silence.
Job 37:14-20 – “Pause a moment, Job, and listen; consider the wonderful things God does.”
Today on the podcast we are taking a moment to talk about the importance of slowing down and taking time to reflect on God’s goodness. We are also speaking with Jacki Kraft, Director of Samaritan Inn, a place for families to take rest and solace in significant times of need.
Each day this week, I hope you take some time to PAUSE.