21 May

Since writing last week about Len’s posts on Leader As Listener I have been thinking a lot about silence.  Often we talk about having “quiet time” with God, but do we really spend time listening to Him during this?  Or is it more of a case of reading some bible and praying, or, as is often the case with me, not being very disciplined and suddenly thinking “I haven’t spent anytime with God for x amount of days.” and then quickly squeezing some quiet time in somewhere before rushing back into the day?  Does busyness of life cause us to not encounter silence, or do we choose not to encounter it?

I have come across various people in my lifetime who simply can’t stand silence.  A few of these people openly admitted that they couldn’t stand being on their own, they had to be surrounded by people all of the time, so that they didn’t have to think and endure silence.  Others I know enjoy peace and quiet, and relish times on their own.  What is it some of us are trying to avoid by not being silent?  Are we worried about what God might say to us, what we might hear?

Another thought I’ve been pondering is how and whether we need to discipline our silence more?  Do you find your mind wondering, like mine does, when trying to listen to and focus on God?  Do you feel you give Him the attention you ought to, so that he can speak tenderly to you in the quiet places, as well as when he speaks to you in the flow of life?


7 Responses to “Silence”

  1. Jim May 21, 2007 at 11:18 #

    Good post.

    I, too, have been trying to find more quiet time to listen to God lately. My friend Aaron has a saying, “Nothing gets done unless it gets done on purpose”, meaning that we can’t just stand around and wish for something we want to happen, we have to make it happen. Which is going to be seen as ironic a few sentences down.

    Toward that end I’ve started attending a small “centering prayer” group every Monday. We practice lectio divina, which is basically sitting and being silent and softly bringing a sacred word (“Lord”, “Jesus”, “mercy”) into our mind. It isn’t meditation, per se – the word is not a mantra. Instead, in your silence, every time you recognize that you are thinking, you just gently acknowledge those thoughts and then let them go (“like a leaf floating down a stream”) and re-center on the sacred word you are using for the day, inviting God to be with you. [This is obviously a very high-level flyover – you can find more resources on this on the web or ask me and I’ll forward you some.]

    The interesting point being that nothing gets done unless it gets done on purpose, so I am going weekly, and need to figure out how to integrate the practice into my life daily. However, the actual practice itself is quite gentle. It gives up on the idea of trying to “discipline our silence more”, if by that we mean wrestling with our thoughts. Instead, as with Buddhist meditation, we just gently label those thoughts “thinking, thinking” (not, “Thinking! Thinking! Bad dog! No biscuit!”) and then return to the practice. So, yes, “discipline”, as in “practice”, “commitment” (and “disciple”), but not “discipline” as in “control” (or “punishment”). Discipline as in practice, not perfection (thinking about Heidi’s latest blog post here).

    Per people who can’t stand silence or being alone, I think that’s the classic extrovert/introvert difference, as described in an excellent Atlantic article some years back. FWIW, I am an introvert, which as the article points out, does not mean “shy” or “reticent”. Instead, the article defines extroverts as people who get energy from being with other people and introverts as those who expend energy in the same situation. Read the article, it will make sense (it was a real “A ha!” moment for me – especially since at the time I was working for a real extrovert, with whom I immediately shared it, so we could better understand each other – it helped).

  2. lynhallewell May 22, 2007 at 14:43 #

    Thanks for your thoughts Jim. I’ve just recently purchased Keri Wyatt Kent’s new book whch is based on the practice of Lectio Divina – haven’t got around to reading it yet though! I’ll take a look at the article, it sounds good. I think I’m an introvert as well! 🙂

  3. Old Pete May 26, 2007 at 09:29 #

    I am at another one of those transitional stages. I found ‘Caring for your Introvert’ very encouraging.
    I found ‘My vision is to have no vision’ (NakedPastor) absolutely amazing – and interesting how many ‘leaders’ just could not understand what was being said! Is there a connection with why Len has received so few comments?

    I have been following the ’emerging church’ debate for several years now. One thing that has always been so obvious is the way in which leaders recognise that there is something wrong with traditional churches and are looking for ways to change what is wrong. But it never seems to occur to them that the whole concept of their own leadership positions might be one of the causes of the problems. Is Len suggesting that maybe there is a need to listen to those who may never have been in leadership positions?

    I don’t know where this might be leading – I need a sounding board.

    As I’ve said on my web site, it was in 1998 that I found ‘Houses that change the world’ by Wolfgang Simson based on Fifteen Theses towards a re-incarnation of the Church. Wolfgang has real enthusiasm for the five-fold ministry. I was struck then by what he said about prophets:
    “A prophet’s perspective is radically different from that of a pastor. He hears from God and quite mercilessly questions everything, including the pastor, from God’s perspective. That however is his healthy and God-given duty… one is a defender of the status quo … the other questions everything and is seen (rightly) by many as a threat, because he disrupts things and wants ‘movement now'”

    Any thoughts would be appreciated.

  4. northpointcc April 25, 2009 at 20:55 #

    It is in times of solitude and silence that we are best able to hear God speak to those deep recesses of our hearts. A book I have found helpful is “Invitation to Solitude and Silence” by Ruth Haley Barton. It is not an easy discipline in a world filled with so many attractive choices but I think it is a necessary discipline if we want to deepen our walk with God.

  5. slamdunk May 15, 2009 at 11:10 #

    Great post with lots of food for thought. Silence is essential for reflection–something I need to make more room for in my life.

    Keep up the good writing.

  6. lynhallewell May 15, 2009 at 14:14 #

    Thank you

  7. Yahia Lababidi June 18, 2009 at 01:45 #

    Dear Lyn,

    Instinctively drawn to Silence since my late teens, I only managed to unpack the subject into an essay just last year.

    Hope my meditation resonates with you.


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