A few weeks ago my wife and I went to see the movie, “A Quiet Place.” If you’ve not heard about the film, it’s one of this year’s top-grossing films, earning just under $185 million over the last month.
Without giving away too much of the plot, it is the story of a family that must live in complete silence to avoid being attacked by a vicious alien with super-sensitive hearing. Silence, in the film’s post-apocalyptic world, saves lives.
I was reading a blog post about the film by David Chatham. In the post, David asks us to consider how we can use silence to our advantage. He offered “three times when silence is golden.” So, when is silence golden for a preacher or Christian leader?
1st — When you have nothing to say
It’s OK not to have an opinion on a popular/trending issue. Chatham says that we need to fight the urge to conjure up something just to be a part of the conversation. He invites us to resist the temptation, and be contemplative rather than risk being seen as exploitative or ignorant.
2nd — When someone else is more qualified to speak
Providing the insight of experts can add value and communicate that we care enough about our audience to bring them relevant content.
3rd — When it’s time to listen
Over and over we’ve all been reminded to listen twice as much as we speak. This is especially true for Christian leaders as we face the challenges of ministry.
This 3rd point brought to mind the powerful message in Psalm 4:4-5: “When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it in your beds and be silent. Offer right sacrifices and put your trust in the Lord.”
Ruth Haley Barton writes, “There are times when the most heroic thing a leader can do is to remain in that private place with God for as long as it takes to keep from sinning. In silence, we consciously trust ourselves to God rather than following our human impulses to fix, control or put people in the r place.”
This is not to suggest that we never speak. Certainly, we are to courageously speak justice and compassion and hope.
But she cautions, “The more we are called upon to use our words the more distressing things are, the more that active leadership is required of us, the more silence we need. The greater the call for decisive action, the more we must be sure that we have waited long enough to receive clear direction.”
In another place she tells of how a wise, spiritual director once said to her, “Ruth, you are like a jar of river water all shaken up. You need to sit still long enough so that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear.” Be still! Let things settle! Take the time to quiet and calm your soul.
We all need A Quiet Place, a space to be with God and God alone, where we take the time to quiet and calm our soul and where we listen twice as much as we speak.
Where is your Quiet Place?