Doing nothing: an essential spiritual practice for church leaders

Can you do nothing?

I believe it's important, especially for church leaders, to do nothing every day, every week and every year.

Why it's important to do nothing every day. I don't mean do nothing all day. I do mean to take at least a few minutes to take a deep breath and look around you. Stop on the walk to your car. When you are waiting, don't pull out your phone immediately. A constant focus on productivity gets in the way of creativity. Don't get me wrong: being productive and focusing on the right things is important (that's another article). But those little pauses give room for new ideas to sneak in.

Why it's important to do nothing every week. One word: Sabbath. I love the Creation story in Genesis which shows God (even God!) resting on the seventh day. Maybe you can't carve out a whole day. People with young children can find it hard to find a whole hour a week for themselves. And the laundry has to get done sometime. But I recommend, at the beginning of the week, that you figure out the times when you are not working, and stick to it, barring emergency. I know, I know, that sermon has to get written. But over time, without sabbath, you and your work, including those sermons, will suffer.

Why it's important to do nothing every year. Maybe you've already had your vacation. Or maybe you're going next week. You may be the type who likes a very active vacation. I recommend that you try at least a day or two of quiet. Or take a retreat at a monastery, where the schedule of prayers and meals may make it a bit easier. We have to slow down long enough for God to get our attention, longer than a few minutes or a few hours.

What helps you to make the space for "nothing" in your life and ministry?

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