At age 52, I decided to pursue a personal dream to earn a doctorate degree in educational leadership and management. Already having achieved a high level of success in my career and accumulating enough years of service to ponder retirement in a few years, there really was no need to start this trek for the purpose of enhancing my current job. I felt secure and comfortable there. Then I paused.
What was it that I wanted to do…not what I needed to do?
For most of my life I have done what needs to be done. My personality type is such that I am compliance-driven. Find out what needs to be done, develop a plan, and execute the plan. By nature, I am a “get it done” kind of person, especially when it comes to my work life. But there was something about that pause.
That moment of personal pause was an opportunity to stop and listen. How many times in life are we so busy doing what needs to be done that we don’t take the time to stop, look, and listen?
Do we stop to reflect on where we are, where we are, and who we want to become? Do we ask God who He wants us to become?
How many times do we really look at where we’ve been and what we’ve been through to get where we are? Do we take the time to look in the rear view mirror to see all the times when God had put things together and worked them out for our good? Did we pause in that moment to thank Him for all that He didn’t give us that we thought we needed? Did we pause to be humble and say “God forgive me for questioning Your way when I wanted my way?”
Do we take the time to listen? I mean really listen, even when we can’t hear the answer right away? How many times do we force ourselves to become small so that we can acknowledge the voice of One who only has our best interest at heart and wants the best for us?
In that moment of personal pause, I was able to get confirmation from God that He would be with me on this educational journey. It didn’t matter my age, status or what I had achieved already. He had used all those seasons to prepare for this season. From those experiences, I was finally ready to prepare for a new assignment. Funny thing is that I don’t know what that new assignment is yet. But the beauty of the pause is that by stopping to reflect, looking at past circumstances, and listening for the next move, I don’t have to know the full picture at this time. I simply need to know that He is faithful and that He will continue to work things out for my good because I am called by His name. The mere fact that He is preparing me for something is humbling and empowering at the same time. There is peace in the pause.
After successfully completing the second course in my doctoral program and a three-week break before the next course starts, a reminder to take a personal pause came. Having spent the last 10 weeks huddled over a computer most nights and weekends researching in the library, reading article after article, and writing endless papers and discussion postings, there came a time of quiet. I could have filled that time with activity. But my mind was drawn to a moment of personal pause.
In that moment of personal pause, I worshiped Him for His faithfulness for my works are meaningless without His touch. In this moment was an opportunity to stop, look, and listen. We had come full circle and the circle always starts with slowing down and taking the time for a personal pause.