In the middle of the 2008/2009 recession, I was overwhelmed, anxious and definitely not thriving as a leader. As more and more business dried up, I worked harder and longer to survive. Near a breaking point, I went on a 24-hour silent retreat, crying out to God in my fear and doubt. In that place of quiet, he showed me that in choosing to sacrifice myself by working more, I was less effective in my relationships and my leadership.
When resources are scarce, it’s all too easy to add more and more to our day, our calendar and our lives. God knew we would make this destructive choice. In Isaiah 30:15, He says “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” Are you making a choice to have “none of it”?
Are you experiencing:
- A persistent sense of never having enough time
- Being more easily irritated by little things
- Often finding yourself preoccupied and missing key parts of conversations
- Rarely feeling a deep sense of joy and gratitude
- Frequently being worn out and tired
- When answering the question “How are you doing?”, do you find yourself talking about how much you’re doing?
Living from quiet is a deliberate choice to spend time with God. Only by living from quiet can we build a reservoir of calm where:
- The Holy Spirit provides inner peace that permeates our teaching, our business, ministry , or our parenting (Gal. 5:22-23)
- We can talk with God (Deut. 4:7)
- We can listen, discern, challenge and encourage others (2 Cor. 1:3-4)
- We find the courage to choose the ways of God when we are struggling (2 Cor. 4:8)
- We guard our heart (Prov. 4:23)
- We choose to create margin (Mark 1:35)
Without times of retreat, rest, and deliberate margin, Jesus would never have done many of the miracles he did. He would have been too busy getting to the next meeting, speaking to the next donor, or answering his emails and texts. He wouldn’t have had time to speak to the woman at the well (John 4:1-42), heal and encourage the woman with the issue of blood (Matt. 9:20-22) or raise Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:22-24, 35-42).
Living from quiet is a deliberate choice to spend time with God.
Do you want miracles in your life? Do you want a reservoir of calm? If so, here are four ideas to help you live from quiet.
1. Realign your priorities. Dave Buehring, CEO of Lionshare Leadership says, “What God initiates he permeates. What we initiate, we have to sustain.” Make a list of everything you are involved in. Then ask yourself three questions for each item: 1.) What if this was the only thing in my life, how would I feel? 2.) What if this wasn’t in my life, how would I feel? 3.) Why am I doing it? Sometimes our answers to the first two questions make it appear we should walk away from this activity, but the answer to the third question may tell us it’s because God clearly initiated it.
2. Schedule regular time of solitude – at least 24 hours. Make a deliberate choice to disconnect from all electronics, find a place that speaks to your soul, and spend time with God. Rest, pour out your heart, listen and journal.
3. Schedule time for daily quiet, listening, and conversation with God on your calendar and be unwilling to let anything or anyone else take priority over it – not your board chair, not a client, not your parent and not your spouse.
4. Be a role model. When I was hired in a large nonprofit, I was told, “This work will eat you up if you let it. It’s YOUR responsibility to not let it.” This CEO was partially right. It is my responsibility, but the reality is that those God-chosen leaders are role models. If we aren’t choosing to live from quiet, the subtle message we send is that our colleagues should also sacrifice themselves to get the work done. Our words matter less than the actions they see us doing. Challenge yourself and those you lead to practice solitude and to build margin, not only in their personal lives, but also in the organization where you all work.
You’ll never know what miracle God wants you or your organization to do unless you make the choice to be quiet and trust.
Nancy Reece equips and encourages leaders in the ways of God. She has a 30-year background in nonprofit and corporate leadership, and has served on numerous ministry boards. She is the author of Undivided Hearts: Tender Wisdom for Tough Choices, a study for women leaders. Connect with her at Nancy@NancyReece.com.