“Solitude is a catalyst for innovation” – Susan Cain
My days come with the fulfilling and exhausting opportunity to stand alongside people as they grow professionally, academically, personally, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s fulfilling because building people up into the God-designed version of themselves is one of the core parts of my calling. It’s exhausting because I go from meeting to meeting and conversation to conversation all day. By the end of the day, the introvert in me is crying out for silence, solitude, reflection, and rest. I would be lying to you if I told you that I do a stellar job of finding these spaces every day. But I can tell you that I’m striving for it.
One of the ways I’m striving for it is to take time to read and reflect. Currently, I’m reading Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking and these words resonated with me: “Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.”
I am an ideas person. I come up with crazy ideas – and not so crazy ideas – all the time. But lately, because of flow of my days, it’s been hard for me to clear my mind enough to let those creative sparks fly. So, when I read these words about solitude and innovation…I thought: “YASSSS! Preach! That’s so true for me!”
Taking these words to heart, I spent some time last Saturday sitting in the corner of my favorite coffeeshop coming up with a bunch of ideas for our Sunday Worship Experience the following day and our upcoming Radical Culture Spring Conference. With my headphones on and blank pages in front of me, I started to dream and envision the possibilities. My mind was awake.
On Sunday, I arrived to church about 30 minutes before the first service. I had a long list of to-dos that needed to be accomplished to make all the ideas that I’d had the day before become a reality.
I walked into the balcony of the new sanctuary and there was a guest worship team doing sound check. I didn’t know who they were or where they were from, but in an empty balcony I stood there listening to this beautiful worship.
And then a crazy idea popped into my head: Let’s scrap our gameplan for today and just have our young people stay here for worship. (Eventually, this crazy idea turned into us staying for the entire second service instead of having our Worship Experience.)
I ended up staying for the first service instead of tackling the to-dos. I closed my eyes, in an act of solitude, and spent the time worshipping, praising, and envisioning God. In the last 20 minutes of the service, the guest pastor, invited the guest worship team back up to sing a song they had written. He instructed everyone to get into small groups of 4-5 people and asked everyone to respond to two questions.
But I didn’t join a group.
When the worship team started to sing, I walked to the front of the altar.
I wasn’t being defiant or rebellious to the instructions. I was just responding to the desire of my soul for solitude and reflection.
“I can feel the drum of your heartbeat
calling us to be your hands and feet
we’re rising up with courage in our hearts
to carry out your love to the hardest and the dark”
“We’ll lead this generation to the glory of the Lord”
And then – as it always does – the bridge of the song struck me so powerfully:
“There’s a ‘yes’ in our hearts
and it carries through eternity
simple obedience changes history”
All of these words, but in particular the bridge were confirmations and echoes of all of the dreaming and envisioning I had done the day before. Standing there at the altar alone listening with my eyes closed, I could see God’s hand moving pieces and parts together for our Spring Conference. I caught glimpses of dreams and visions that I stored on a shelf somewhere in my mind coming to life again. I could see God moving me towards the dreams and visions He’s put in my mind and that I’ve said yes to in the past.
I started laughing and crying at the same time. I smiled so big that my face hurt. Just standing at the altar solo in the presence of God I was inspired. I stood there reminded that being silent in the presence of God is the greatest catalyst for innovation. I was overwhelmed by the truth that the “yeses” that we say to the God-dreams and visions He unleashes in our hearts carry through eternity.
Think about that.
Our “yes” to God carries a weight through eternity. A “yes” to being part of His story changes history. No dream and vision that God has given us and that we’ve said “yes” to is an empty “yes”. God is on the move. Can we slow ourselves down enough to see His movement?
Let’s find the moments of solitude.
Let’s go to the altar space that can inspire our mental space.
Let’s dream with God every day.
Let’s re-envision the visions He’s given us.
Let’s create something with our Creator.
In the tension together,