September 24, 2009 Tony Morgan

Stop Time

In music, there’s a term called “stop time.” It’s when, temporarily, all the music accompaniment stops in order to highlight a solo vocalist or instrumentalist. It’s not unusual for jazz artists to use stop time. For a moment, the rhythm stops, all the other instruments pull back, and the band creates space for the soloist to improvise.

I’ve seen “stop time” work with my kids as well. Instead of planning every moment of their waking hours, from time to time we push the pause button and create space. We don’t set the agenda. We give them time to do their own thing. We don’t respond to the “I’m bored and have nothing to do” pleas. We let them figure it out. It’s fascinating to watch how creative our kids get when we give them time to improvise.

I love long car trips. When the drive is long enough, my mind will start to wander. I do some of my best thinking driving down the highway. Some of my most creative moments have been behind the wheel. Sometimes I wonder if I need to schedule regular road trips just to be more disciplined about creating thinking time in my life.

In an age when email, social networking and mobile technology make us continuously available, we probably need to create more stop time. In a season when there are always more meetings and task lists and projects to complete, we probably need more stop time. If you are frustrated by the lack of creativity in your organization or your personal life, it’s probably because the rhythm is constant and the accompanying instruments are too loud and you haven’t created space to improvise.

Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.”

When was the last time you scheduled some “stop time?”

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Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group, theunstuckgroup.com. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.
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