Power of the Pause

You, too, can reap the many benefits of the power of the pause. by Tammy Darling
woman looking up

One of the most powerful things we can ever do is…pause.

The most basic definition of pause is “a temporary stop in action or speech.” Why is this pause so important? 

  • The pause allows time for the Holy Spirit to speak
  • The pause allows time for us to make a better choice.

I am convinced that if we learn the power of the pause, our lives and the lives of those around us will forever be changed for the better. Here are some ways the power of the pause can manifest in our everyday lives:

Pause before reacting

This has life-changing results. Pausing before reacting allows us to respond instead, which is the healthy way to come back after an attack or offense.

In the past, my husband and I were seriously struggling to get along. One afternoon, after being at each other for hours, my husband crossed the aggravated line and said something to me that he knew would greatly hurt me. This wasn’t a heat of the moment spewing of words. It was calculated. How do I know? Because he paused. He paused, but still chose to make a wrong choice, which he later admitted. His pause, I fully believe, is what enabled me to pause. I paused, turned away and prayed. I took a deep breath, turned back around, and very calmly spoke the words the Holy Spirit gave me to speak. I was beginning our healing journey.

If a doctor tells you the medication, you’re on caused a reaction, that’s not good. If he says that you responded to the medication, that is good. Not much good comes from reacting, but when we respond, there’s hope for all kinds of good. Pause so you can respond.

Pause before looking

King David knew a thing or two about looking at what—or rather, who he had no business looking at. And it cost him dearly. David went on to make a covenant with his eyes: “I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar” (Psalm 101:3, NLT).

Lingering looks can cause great damage to one’s purity and integrity. It can damage or even destroy relationships. I know several men who struggle with pornography—all of them are Christians. One is now divorced; the other two are working on their marriage and personal life. But make no mistake, women are not exempt.

And that’s where the power of the pause comes in. When we pause before choosing that R-rated movie, porn, or even lingering looks at someone in a restaurant or walking down the street, we will sense the Holy Spirit’s check and we can choose purity and integrity instead.

Pause before spending

I don’t just mean money. We also spend our time and energy. When we utilize the power of the pause, we can more effectively manage our spending habits.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message).

Read this passage again and notice how much of what Jesus says would require that we pause.

As we pause in His presence, our spending—of ourselves and our money—will come into alignment with God’s will and ways. That’s the power of the pause.

Pause before speaking

The Bible has much to say about the words we speak. “For the tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:6, NIV

Words do hurt, and while we can apologize, we can’t take those hurtful words back. A beloved pastor I had in my teenage years, frequently said that our words are like toothpaste; once they come out, there’s no putting them back in.

The power of the pause has been so beneficial to me as I’ve always had a problem with my mouth. Words shoot out of me like a firecracker instead of toothpaste, and there’s no putting those explosives back in the casing either! Thanks to the power of the pause, I am learning to choose my words wisely.

Pause before eating

Yes, I went there. And I went there because of 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV): “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” Most of us are familiar with this passage, but do we know it? Are we living it?

It’s hard, but this is where the power of the pause comes into play. We can’t do it on our own—at least I can’t. That precious, powerful pause allows the Holy Spirit to come in and do what we cannot do on our own.

Pause before making any choice

Any and every choice we make has a subsequent consequence. In an ongoing effort to encourage my kids to make wise choices, I frequently told them, “Your choice, your consequence.” But really, so many of our choices have consequences that affect others too. Because our choices do affect others as well as ourselves, we should be even more certain to utilize the power of the pause.

Very rarely does a decision need to be made on the spur of the moment. Learn to let the Lord direct your steps. Pause. Pray. Then proceed.

These are just some of the ways we can employ the power of the pause in our everyday lives. I applaud the pause because I’ve come to know first-hand how valuable and essential it is. My life and the lives of those around me have changed for the better. You, too, can reap the many benefits of the power of the pause.

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