Leading in a time of Pause
Church has been operating in ‘lockdown’ now for around 10 weeks – that sounds longer than any of us imagined at the start of this, and there are likely going to be several more weeks – months even – before we start regathering for even the most basic, core services.
Church will re-gather, not re-open, because you cannot re-open something that has not closed. The church has continued reaching out, serving, offering hope, love, support, having Sunday services (online) and, within all of that, seeing many people come to Christ. At Kingfisher we have seen well over 50 commitments to Christ at our online Sunday services, which is phenomenal.
But in this time when so much of our ordinary, everyday lives is on ‘pause’, the question that leaders must grapple with is, ‘How can I lead in this time of ‘pause’?’ When none of the physical gatherings are happening, when groups, gatherings, activities, social interactions that we used to take for granted and that formed the setting for our leadership activities are now not possible – how can I lead? What should I be doing in this period of time? The temptation is to launch in either of two directions:
• to sit back and wait for things to ‘get back to normal’ so that you can start ‘leading’ again.
• to go into overdrive, having as many online meetings and launching as many new initiatives as possible, out of a fear of people losing momentum and interest.
Both of these options, I would suggest, are a mistake.
A third, more creative option regarding how to lead in a time of pause is to embrace the pause, and to encourage those you lead to embrace the pause.
In the Bible, there is a word for pause – it is a word that is used 74 times, 71 of those times being in the Psalms and the remaining 3 times in the book of Habakkuk. The word is selah.
Being found most often in the Psalms, this is a clearly a musical term, but it has a deeper meaning than just pausing in a musical context. This is a very rich, creative and powerful word, and what better time to embrace the ‘pause’ than now? And what greater leadership role could we have right now than to encourage those whom we lead – starting with ourselves – to embrace the ‘pause’?
What does it mean to ‘pause’ and how can we incorporate this into our own lives and encourage others to do the same? There is power in the pause. We need to learn to pause. Even heaven pauses:
“When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”
If heaven feels the need to pause , then so should we!
Pause to do what? Well, three things: reflect, remember and restate. There is power in reflection, there is power in remembering and there is power in restating,..
There is power in REFLECTION. That’s the message of the song, ‘Selah’ that appears on the Kingfisher album ‘Proclamation’:
‘Just look at the view, how far we’ve come, all that God has done…’
(‘Selah’, from Proclamations)
That is not pausing to congratulate ourselves at how far we’ve come, but to reflect on all that God has done. In the context of the Psalms it is pausing to reflect on what has just been sung or chanted. In the context of life, it is pausing to reflect on the activity of God in our lives and in the life of our church and the world.
Why do we not do more reflection? Because we are generally focussed on what we do not yet have, on the current lack of the next challenge, on where we need to go next, on which mountain is next to climb. And we’re called to be pioneers, not settlers, but pioneers that move forward with confidence because they are reflecting on the track record, the unfailing love, of the Lord.
That’s why Ethan the Ezrahite opens his one and only psalm with these words:
“I will sing of the LORD’s unfailing love forever! Young and old will hear of your faithfulness”
It is in reflecting on and remembering the unfailing love of the Lord that we find the courage to step forward and move into the new things that God is calling us to.
One of the design features of human beings – at least, fallen human beings – is that we have very selective memories. If someone has hurt us, lied to us, let us down or betrayed us, we have no trouble in remembering every single detail, maybe for years to come. But if we pray for something and God
answers our prayer, we find that much more difficult to hold onto and remember the details of how we felt when the prayer was answered, the miracle happened, the provision materialised and so on.
We have very selective memories, which means that we only remember the struggles and the setbacks in any real detail. And that robs us of confident assurance for the future, because if our hope is based on the Lord and we can’t remember what He has done for us, we won’t have the confidence to move ahead to the next, bigger challenge. That’s why another psalmist makes this decision:
“Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.”
May I never forget.
Four words that spell out the difference between faith and fear. May I never forget that time when, at the 11th hour, the money came through. May I never forget the person God put in my path that I was able to encourage or who was such a blessing to me.
May I never forget. But I will, unless I bank that memory somewhere safe and allow it to grow and develop my trust in Jesus Christ for the next time. What do those four words mean in your life?
May I never forget. May you never forget what?
There is power in REMEMBERING.
What has God challenged and changed in your life? We talk a lot at Kingfisher about life change, and it is relatively easy to see that life change, at least in other people. The hard thing is to identify it in ourselves.
The reason for that is that we can still see so much that has not changed, so we conclude that nothing has changed. But that is just not true, because we are on a journey with change happening all the time.
Generally, at least in my experience, the change comes in the wake of the challenge, and the challenge is generally in the area of giving something up: an attitude, a habit, a crutch that I’ve been leaning on, an assumption that has become a limitation.
Change comes as I choose to respond to the challenge to lay that down, give it up. We are on a journey of shedding what holds us back.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
I have had to strip off many things and I will continue to do so. I have had to strip off a dependence on alcohol to help me relax. I have had to strip off a fear of being rejected and humiliated as I have stepped out and tried new things for God, like writing and speaking more widely and so on. The list goes on, but the pattern remains the same: growth and change in my life has always come in the wake of responding to the challenge not to give up, but rather to keep persevering.
So, it’s good to pause and reflect: what has God challenged and changed in your life? Reflect on this and you will realise that things have not happened at random, they have happened with a purpose and a reason. God has got you on a journey and that journey is one of challenge and change, but with a glorious end in view.
“Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.”
He’s not finished with you yet, but the patience to keep going from one challenge to the next comes from reflecting on the journey so far. Honestly, it was great to start on this journey, but finishing is better than starting; the end result will be worth all the challenge and change.
Here is an other challenge: Remember: how has God rescued you in the darkest moments? Now mostly we don’t want to think about the darkest moments; we just want to wash our minds clean of them and move on to better things. But we can learn a great deal and grow a great deal by reflecting on those times.
Those times when we felt we were drowning, that hope was extinguished, that there just seemed no way forward, no way back and staying where we were wasn’t an option either. That place of no hope. Remember it? But God rescued you. You know He did because you are still here. Still living; still breathing. You got through that darkest of times. Not on your own and not by your own determination. God was there. He stepped in and somehow gave you the courage and the encouragement to keep going, one step at a time.
“Lord, give me today my daily bread“. I just need your power for today. And because I have chosen to take the stand ‘May I never forget’, I recall that He has rescued me in the past and that He will do it again.
“Your unfailing love will last forever. Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens.”
Do you remember God rescuing you in the past? Do you remember that time when all hope was lost, when you had run out of plan Bs, when there was no backup in place just in case God let you down? You remember that? Just take a moment to remember: nobody has such a gilded life that no calamity has ever befallen them, and they have never cried out in desperation to God.
“Help! If you do not come to my rescue I will surely drown!” But God did come to your rescue, whether in ways that you were expecting or in ways that you were not. In ways that were apparent or in ways that were not. And He always will. He will always be there to rescue you in your darkest moments.
“Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.”
There is power in RESTATING. What are you trusting Him for right now? You may not have had your breakthrough yet, but that does not mean that the breakthrough is not coming. The situation may have been going on for so long that you are more than tempted to give up and stop believing, but this isn’t God’s ability in question here, or His interest in blessing you with a breakthrough.; it is His very character. Because He has said, He will. That is what the psalmist was hanging onto even when things were desperately difficult:
“I have made a covenant with My chosen; I have sworn to David My servant, I will establish your seed forever And build up your throne to all generations.”
Selah. (Psalms 89:3-4 NASB)
What are you trusting Him for right now? Pause and reflect on this. Beyond the doubt and the pain of waiting lies the issue of God’s character. Not His ability. Not His interest. Not even His feelings about you. His character. He is a God who keeps His word. He is a God who is well able to say ‘no’ and say it loud and clear, and so if He hasn’t said a loud and clear ‘no’, there is every reason to believe that the ‘yes’ is on its way.
In fact, whenever your circumstances say ‘no’ or the outcome before your eyes says ‘no’, you are one step closer to God’s ‘yes’. How do you keep yourself positive until the ‘yes’ comes?
Selah: you circumstances and not on the thing you are so desperately hoping for or needing, but on the character of God. Just like a character in the OT called Jehoshaphat did. When faced with a desperate situation that threatened to wipe Israel off the face of the map, he turned to God and poured out his heart to Him. Then he had one of those Selah moments. It’s recorded in 2 Chronicles 20. Here are the highlights of the Selah moment:
“O Lord, are you not…O our God did you not…O our God will you not…?”
We’ve looked at this before. It is the key to hanging on while waiting for God’s breakthrough. It is the essence of the Selah moment. O Lord, are you not…o our God did you not…o our God will you not?.
How can you lead in a time of ‘pause’? Learn the power of Selah, put it into practice in your own life and encourage those you lead to do the same. You can start right now, by doing what Jehoshaphat did:
Reflect – O Lord, are you not? Remind yourself of his character.
Remember – O our God, did you not? Remember what He has done in the past. Re-immerse yourself in faith.
Restate – O our God will you not? Restate your trust in Him. He is the Lord, He does not change. (Malachi 3:6,NLT)
Selah – the power of reflection. Offer Jesus Christ a Selah moment and just see what He will do with it!
Be part of changing the world through prayer. Join in prayer with National Directors and international ministry partners as they pray for the nations in the Kingfisher Family. Video to motivate and focus prayer available on the resources page of www.kingfisherfamily.org and www.kingfisher.org.uk
On Sunday, June 28th as an expression of our commitment in prayer for believers in desperate need around the world, we are holding a Gift Day – an opportunity to give financially. Your gift will make an incredible difference to those who are struggling to survive in countries that have no infrastructure to cope with the Coronavirus pandemic. “What good is there in your saying to them, “God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!
”—if you don’t give them the necessities of life? 17 So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions, then it is dead.”
(James 2:14-18, GNB)
You can now give online by credit or debit card – just go to the ‘giving’ page on the kingfisherfamily.org or kingfisher.org.uk website
Embrace the pause:
There is power
in the pause
“O our Lord, are you not…”
‘May I never forget’…