Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
‘The Work Alibi’ was the title of a 1983 Harvard Business Review article. It stated that ‘while work in some cases may contribute to an unsatisfactory family life, in many others it becomes an alibi that executives use to cover up much more important factors’.
In leading many time management courses over the years, I have found it important to give more attention to what people are not doing with their time, than what they are. Lack of time is one of the best excuses for not doing almost anything; it gives us a ready alibi for avoiding situations or activities that promise to be difficult or painful.
One thing we choose to avoid is being still or stopping. ‘We humans have chosen speed and we thrive on it – more than we generally admit. Our ability to work fast and play fast gives us power’, claims James Gleick in Faster. Why don’t we stop? Because we have convinced ourselves that stopping is a luxury we cannot afford. Also, much of our identity can be so tied up with our activity that we don’t know who we are when we stop. In both the workplace and church, activity is often valued over reflection. Being busy is a badge of honour. If you’re not under pressure then your role cannot be very important, can it?
In the midst of our busyness, the Lord commands us ‘to be still and know that I am God’. He does so not primarily to comfort the stressed, but to confront our restless activity. It is in becoming still that we are able to focus on who God is and reconnect with his activity: ‘He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear’ (Psalm 46:9). When we turn down the noise of our lives, we can hear that ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble’ (Psalm 46:1). And his help is ever present in the very situations we seek to avoid with our ‘lack of time’ alibi.
Join us on our ‘Being Present’ prayer pathway as we learn together to receive God’s ever-present help in the situations we face, and in those we are tempted to avoid. Be re-energised through simple spiritual practices, and be encouraged as we share answers to our prayers. Join this renewing prayer journey!
Bev Shepherd is the PrayerWorks project leader and an associate speaker with LICC. As a management trainer and coach she specialises in the areas of leadership, team dynamics and stress, and is the author of Insight into Stress (CWR, 2006).