• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Taking the time to think

Most of us have not learned the discipline of stopping, getting away and thinking about all that we are overseeing and have responsibility to lead.” The leader coach who authored those words is calling us to take the time to think and reflect on our lives and ministries.the thinker

Now, it is way easier to “say” we will take time to think and reflect than to actually “practice” it. Our lives and ministries move at internet speed most days and to try and add something else into an already crowded schedule is near nigh impossible. For example, the idea of journaling or taking time to creatively dream and reflect on issues sounds wonderful, but there is just no more room in my day.

Besides, what would I actually do if I took the time to step back and “think”?

Great question! Maybe we need to think about how to take time to think? Let’s look at a couple of ideas:

• Begin by ending my day five minutes earlier. Most of us have trouble just stopping. Ministry certainly presses in around us, but setting an ending to our day would allow us to ask a few simple questions like: What went well? What didn’t go well? What might I do differently tomorrow then to serve and lead others well?
• Take several days to meditate on the verse from Ephesians 5:17: “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” To accomplish this task, we will need to “think” hard about what the will of the Lord is. Taking the time to chew on this verse might help us to slow down long enough to get some new thoughts about what that might look like in our lives.
• Tell a co-worker that you are going to take an hour to go out to a park, a café or some other location to sit and prayerfully write down ideas that come to mind as you look back over your life and ministry in the past month. Ask your co-worker to check back with you to see if you actually took the time to get away.

Taking time to think is not “wasted” time. Taking time to think will allow us to move into the future with a greater sense of what God might be calling us to do.

8 Responses

  1. I certainly agree with this. An encouraging word mid-afternoon on this Tuesday. I like this sentence best: “taking time to think is not wasted time.” Indeed!

    Many of the practices you suggest are good and worthwhile. I’ve used these questions to reflect on my day: 1) for what am I most grateful? 2) for what am I least grateful? This then leads me easily into prayer reflection.

    By the way, they come from a story book I highly recommend: Sleeping with Bread. Order it, read it, follow it! And use it with your kids, too. The pictures with few words on each page make it very readable. (For the Kindle obsessed: bad news. While it is available on the Kindle, you’ll rob yourself or others of something precious by not having the original, color, book sized drawings if you order it via download.)

    http://www.amazon.com/Sleeping-Bread-Holding-What-Gives/dp/0809135795#reader_0809135795

    • Sharing the questions one uses to ‘step back and think’ is helpful to many of us. I’m hoping others will share their reflective questions.

  2. I would have thought that with age, time, and experience that I would have collected enough “resources” and would need less time to reflect, but just the opposite is true for me. The accountability factor is essential for my personality. Telling someone about my intentions to read and journal and then giving them permission to ask me about it keeps me diligent to something I desire but don’t always do. And, wonder of wonders, when I take the time to read, reflect and pray, I accomplish the urgent non-essentials that are part of everyday living.

    • Amazing that as we grow we think we need less time to think and reflect, when as you said we need more. Accomplishing the urgent non essential not only engages us in the practical reality of everyday living, it also better prepares us for the issues and situations we will face later. It gives us a repository of wisdom and insights we can use at later opportunities.

  3. The interplay of prayer and reflection interests me. Thank you for sharing about this Carolyn. To me, the best prayer necessitates reflection. And the best of reflection leads me into meaningful prayer. This morning I heard one of the Catholic Cardinals being interviewed in Rome before the start of the Conclave. The reporter was asking him for his favorite pick to be the next Pope, and the Cardinal wouldn’t say. The reporter then said, “come on, you’re being political, you must have a favorite” and the Cardinal stiffened, “this is not political…this is a very prayerful process.” But then he added this…”but certainly there is a human element to this too and we will reflect on who best to serve the church.”

    This has bearing on my point. This Cardinal expressed the hope that he and his fellow Cardinals will both pray and reflect, reflect and pray. And he, at least, believes that will result in making a wise and discerning decision.

    This is just an example. I am sure we can each think of many times in our own prayer journeys when deep reflection both lead us into prayer or came as a result of our prayers. Thanks be to God.

  4. I was in “conversation” last night with Jesus as I was lying on my bed, sleep being elusive. I was agitated in my soul. I kept on “talking” to God, and desperately wanting to discern what He would say to my soul. The voice of Jesus finally broke through my “babbling” to say, “Carl, grow quiet in my presence.” I couldn’t. My mind would not turn away from imagining conversations with people, or praying about some concern, or, or… Again Jesus said, “Carl, grow quiet in my presence.” It is so difficult for me to quiet my soul, to not feel the need to say anything to my Savior and Friend, but to simply be content in HIs presence. (John 10:27… My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.)

    I’m meditating on this for my own rest, for my own quiet, for the space where I can listen and reflect on what Jesus wants to say to me. Reflection requires uncluttered space. It requires not that I be alone, but that I be with the Chief Shepherd of my soul.

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