“Do you practice the discipline of silence?”
Recently I was asked this question, quickly followed by another. “Can you tithe your listening by speaking only 10% of the time?”
Both thought provoking questions.
Why is the discipline of silence so necessary?
- Releasing control. When we are silent, we give up the right to be in control of the situation or the conversation. We simply allow others the privilege to speak without interruption. And what a gift that is. Too often, I know I spend my time in a conversation thinking up an appropriate response. But, what if I simply sit with the person and enter into what they are saying? What gift would I give them by disciplining my mind and mouth to remain silent?
Richard J Foster says, “Silence frees us from the need to control others. One reason we can hardly bear to remain silent is that it makes us feel so helpless. We are accustomed to relying upon words to manage and control others. A frantic stream of words flows from us in an attempt to straighten others out. We want so desperately for them to agree with us, to see things our way. We evaluate people, judge people, condemn people. We devour people with our words. Silence is one of the deepest Disciplines of the Spirit simply because it puts the stopper on that. When we become quiet enough to let go of people, we learn compassion for them.”
- Refusing self-justification. When I learn to be silent before God, when I quiet my mind and soul enough to stop talking, I’m amazed at the lessons I learn. God tells us He speaks to us in a still small voice.
The prophet, Elijah, after witnessing God’s power on Mount Carmel, fled into the wilderness when Jezebel threatened his life. The Bible says he became afraid and ran for his life. Exhausted, depleted to his core, Elijah begged God to take his life.
After sending His angels to minister to Elijah’s physical, mental, and emotional needs, God told Elijah to go up to the mountain and stand in a cave. God revealed Himself to Elijah in a powerful way. Then God asked Elijah why he was hiding on the backside of the wilderness. Elijah listed his reasons. After listening, God proved Himself faithful. You can read the whole story here.
When I finally get to the end of myself, my reasons, and excuses, God will speak and show Himself powerfully in my life.
- Reorienting to center. When there is consistent noise for an extended period of time, we all tend to lose focus. Instead, we find distractions are everywhere. Whether the noise is someone calling my name, music on the radio, a phone ringing, airplanes flying overhead, the washing machine completing its cycle, whatever. Noise causes distraction. But, when I can shut down the noise, the clatter of life, and bring myself into a quiet place mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, I find I am able to once again, reorient myself toward that which is most important—my core. For me, that core is centered in my relationship with God.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
We do not live in a world that embraces silence. Therefore, learning the discipline of silence is difficult. It does not come naturally to you and me.
But it is a critical discipline.
We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls. Mother Theresa
What is distracting you today? How can you create space in your life to practice the discipline of silence? I’d love to hear how you do this or if you even think it’s important.
Capture the extra-ordinary in the ordinary today.
Kirsten D. Samuel
Aftershock Recovery Coach
8-week Program, Custom-paced Coaching, Remote, or In-person Sessions