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16 “Leadership Pauses” That Matter

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Most leaders I know are go-getters. They establish goals and move forward, seldom slowing down or looking back. Sometimes, though, leadership pauses are critical. Here are some times to pause:

  1. Before you brag. Take one breath first, and you might realize how obvious arrogance is to others.
  2. Before making a career move. Pause long enough to seek God’s direction. Don’t let today’s frustration control your decision about tomorrow.
  3. When reading the Word of God. If you read without ever pausing, you’re probably “checking off the box” rather than letting the Word sink in.
  4. Before responding verbally to a critic. If you respond immediately, you’re likely to evoke more criticism by your unhealthy response.
  5. Before hitting the “send” button. All of us have regretted emails we wish we’d considered more thoroughly before sending.
  6. When praying. Leaders who only talk when praying miss the blessing of just listening quietly for God’s “still small voice.”
  7. Before crossing the sin line. Charging headlong toward temptation usually results in sin. Instead, pause. Say a prayer. Call a friend. Walk away from temptation.
  8. When preaching and teaching. Get comfortable with what I call the “silent stare.” Look your hearers in the eye, and let the Word just sink in and convict.
  9. Before spending money you don’t have. A debt-ridden life is not only anxiety-producing, but it’s also a bad witness to the world.
  10. Before hiring someone despite your questions. Ignoring your own intuition, especially if you’re a Spirit-filled believer, usually results in trouble.
  11. When your spouse misses you. The constant activity of leadership doesn’t matter much if you lose your family in the process.
  12. Before you adopt the latest fad for your organization. Just because it works in another context doesn’t guarantee it will work in yours. Consider it thoroughly before you adopt it.
  13. Before giving advice. Some of us give advice before we’ve even heard the end of the story because we’re not really listening in the first place. Pause. Listen. Then speak.
  14. When you’re sick. You don’t get better by working through the illness. Believe it or not, the work will often go on fine while you take a recuperation pause.
  15. Before you criticize. It’s easy to be critical. It’s hard—and godly—to pause, pray and speak in love if you must speak at all.
  16. When you just need time with God. A pause in your daily activities to retreat with God will pay long-term dividends.

If you’re a leader, it’s OK to hit the “pause” button occasionally. In fact, it’s necessary.

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Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on Twitter @Clawlessjr and on at facebook.com/CLawless.