The Powerful Pause

Read: “The words of the reckless pierce like swords,but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18 (NIV)

Reflect: As part of a recent reference check for a job applicant, I inquired about the candidate’s strengths. The answer stood out among the countless comments I heard from references: “She’s thoughtful with her words. She really knows how to take that pause before speaking.” That’s the kind of person I wanted on our team. The ability to pause before responding has great power – both professionally and personally. And when that pause is infused with prayer, the power multiplies exponentially.

I want to be someone who pauses before responding, who considers my words carefully. Most of the time, I do this pretty well. Other times, I fail miserably. Just last week, in a fit of frustration, I snapped at my son to shut up. The week before, I called my daughter lazy. Both times, my kids were exhibiting behaviors that needed to stop. Both times, had I paused to take a breath, had I sent up a little prayer before speaking, the outcome would have been better for everyone.

When I’m at my wit’s end, I need to take a moment to remember the grace God has extended to me so I can extend it to others. My kids are wonderful, but they’re going to need to be corrected. In those times, it’s important to avoid hurtful words that create negative tapes in their heads; I want to create tapes filled with love and encouragement. When I pause before I respond, when I pray for God’s help with coupling grace and discipline, I’m one step closer.

React: Think of a time when you were on the giving or receiving end of hurtful words. Can you imagine how a prayerful pause could have changed that scenario?

Pray: Lord, help me remember to pause before reacting, and to seek your guidance in those moments.