Although I have so much to get done and there so many possible things that could occupy my time, over these next few days I’m taking some time to pause and reflect.
It started this morning with a gathering to reflect on the life and work of CYO, an amazing charity of which I am a trustee which exists to help young people to grow in life, hope and faith. We spent time, sharing stories and hearing good news as well as reflecting on the way forward for the charity.
From Monday to Wednesday I’ll be at the Eastern Baptist Association Ministers conference where we will be reflecting on what it means to survive and thrive in ministry.
For many of us, the main problem with stopping to reflect for any period of time is that it can lead to us becoming more conscious of the many important things that we could be getting on with. This can lead to us feeling too busy to stop which then means that we end up running around like headless chickens doing them same things that we always have done.
When I take time out over these next few days, am I Running Away from my Responsibilities or doing something Really Important?
Is pausing to reflect on life Essential or just a bit of Escapism?
Jesus often made time to be alone, to rest and to pray.
On one occasion the disciples come to find him while he is taking time out and they try to draw him back to the busyness. Instead Jesus told them that it was time to move on and preach the good news in other places (Mark 1.35-39).
I must confess that this often feels to me like a strange choice from Jesus. He had crowds of people who wanted to hear the good news, but he left them to go throughout the region before returning to where he started several days later (Mark 2.1).
When we get caught up in busyness it means that we usually respond to what is happening in front of us. In contrast, when we pause to reflect and gain a better perspective then we can make choices for ourselves. Jesus shares the gospel effectively with a wider area before returning to where the crowds were still waiting to hear the good news.
Because he gained a better perspective, Jesus was effective rather than just feeling beholden to the nearby crowd.
The crowds didn’t set Jesus’ agenda, his heavenly father did. Jesus took time to pause, reflect and pray so that he might understand the bigger picture of where he was meant to be and what he was meant to do.
Over busyness is the destroyer of creativity
When I am too busy, often the work I do is often mediocre.
If we feel the need to be busy in order to be valued then we doom ourselves to a life of mediocrity.
Over busyness gives us tunnel vision rather than the healthy perspective that we need to live well.
When we are too busy we primarily respond to what is in front of us rather than looking at the bigger picture.
If we feel the need to be busy in order to be valued then we doom ourselves to a life where we try to meet people’s felt needs rather than what may really matter much more.
Over busyness leads to us doing what is urgent rather than what is important
When we are too busy we often just meet the needs of the people with the loudest voices. New opportunities and work with the most vulnerable people is often lost as we leap from one demand to the next.
If we feel the need to be busy in order to be valued then we leave ourselves more likely to serve the articulate and powerful than we do the vulnerable and the broken.
Pausing to reflect and pray is Essential
God has given us the Sabbath which is meant to be a day of rest and so as a minimum, we should be pausing to reflect and to gain perspective once a week.
Perhaps it’s time for any of us who are busyness addicts to realize that pausing and reflecting is essential to life.
On one occasion, Jesus sat by a well because he was tired and a day or two later most of the local village had been converted and you can read more about that story here (John 4).
Pausing for perspective and to work from a place of rest can make us more effective.
Please pray for me as I take time out that I might meet with God and regain his perspective and clarity for what he wants me to do.
Please also pray for Orchard Baptist Church. We have started 2017 with the theme ‘New Year! New Start?’ and we are taking time to try to discern what God is saying to us.
During the past month some new people have joined the church. They haven’t come because we are busier, rather they have come because we are trying to pause and to understand what God is saying.
As you pray for me and the church I serve, I would also like to pray for you that you can know what it is to pause and to find space to reconnect with God and to gain his perspective.