The Power Of The Pause


If you are looking to get more done, then maybe . . . just maybe . . . you need to unleash the power of The Pause.

Doing Less = Doing More

Who would have thought "burning time" attending a Friday Night Cruise-In would actually make me "more productive." It did.

I didn't preach last week. That means I was enjoying a brief respite from my weekly PMS (Pre-Message Syndrome), that build-up of emotional pressure that seems to rise as Sunday draws near. Most weeks I'm a candidate for the decompression chamber. And most Fridays I don't have the time or the desire to attend a car show. In fact, outside of my vacation, I attended only ONE cruise-in during all of 2011.

But this Friday was different!

Having made the decision to cruise, I quickly detailed GRMAZ-SS, aka Shannan's Impala SS, and then drove 30 miles to meet a bunch of gear heads in a mall parking lot. I sat with the guys from SoFASST, my Impala club. We talked, I got a bite to eat, and then I roamed the lot with the sounds of oldies classics serenading my steps.

I inspected street rods, rat rods, cool trucks, an unmolested Ford Model T, a 1959 Cadillac Fleetwood and its big brother, a 1960 Cadillac Eldorado. Both Caddies had huge tail fins obviously inspired by a rocket ship. I saw 60's & 70's era muscle cars, import tuners, and enough late model horsepower to satisfy the itch of every Chevy, Ford, and Mopar fan. I captured some pictures (like the one above), and I laughed. Of course you too might laugh if you saw this Leopard Caddy (click here). What were they thinking?

Now this is the interesting part for me . . .

The evening was a gift from God who graciously gives us all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). I lost track of time, my projects, and my pressures. Later, as I crawled into bed it wasn't with visions of Shelby Cobras dancing in my head. I settled instead on a writing project -- Leading With Your Mouth Shut. I have been reflecting on this concept for months. As I lay there, ideas motored by like a pack of Harley riders on the Interstate. Then I slept--soundly. When I hit the road for my morning walk my mind was sharp. I practiced a lesson in Portuguese, gleaned some powerful insights from the biography of Woodrow Wilson I'm reading, picked up another key point for Leading With Your Mouth Shut, and was able to crystallize some thoughts for a challenge one of our kids is facing. And all of that happened in about an hour.

What made the difference?

The Cruise-In, far from being time wasted was really time invested. It was a NASCAR pit stop that topped off my tank and fitted me with four new tires.Should I be surprised?

What I Know About The Pause . . .

The Biblical Precedent

We are commanded to work AND rest (Genesis 2:1-3; Psalm 127:2). Jesus modeled this for us (Mark 4:35-41) and in Mark 6:31 he told his disciples, "Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”

The Historical Precedent

When WWII was at its peak, Prime Minister Winston Churchill took a couple of days at Chartwell, the family country home he purchased two decades earlier. His biographer notes,

Each day brought news of fresh disasters, to confront which Churchill sought at least an hour or two of solitude. "I went to Chartwell last week and found Spring there in all its beauty."[1]

I have written earlier about the woes Bill Clinton experienced, in part, because he neglected the pause (click here to read Fatigue Makes Cowards Of Us All).

The Scientific Precedent

In an article for Harvard Business Review, Tony Schwartz notes, "We encourage people to work intensely for 90 minutes and then take a break. We believe napping drives productivity."[2] An article by the Harvard Woman's Health Watch reports that sufficient rest contributes to cardiovascular health, improved mood, as well as learning and memory.[3] Click here for the article.

The Practical Precedent

Personally, I often get so busy doing the work of God that I forget about the work God wants to do in me. I can work so hard at producing that I can neglect the enjoying--and that isn't to say that the two are mutually exclusive. They are not. I derive great enjoyment from the work I do. Still, I need to take time to rest.

How about you? If you're sluggish and feeling a little tune up is in order, it's time to experience the power of The Pause. Here's how to get started:

  1. Give yourself permission to stop!
  2. Carve out 2-3 hours for an activity you enjoy.
  3. Let go of your pressures (God has them anyway!)
  4. Thank God he graciously gives us all things to enjoy.

There's power in The Pause . . . but hey, it's Monday so you better GET BACK TO WORK!


[1] Martin Gilbert. Winston Churchill: A Biography. Page 720.

[2] "Being More Productive." Harvard Business Review, May 2011, pp. 84-85

[3] "Importance of Sleep: Six Reasons Not To Skimp On Sleep." Harvard Woman's Health. January 2006. Accessed July 14, 2012.