How to know when you need a timeout

By Gerry Lewis | Published Wednesday, January 22, 2014

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I watched parts of both NFL conference championship games Sunday. In a couple of weeks, I’ll watch the Super Bowl. It should be a good game – at least the advertisers are hoping so.

By the way, I read a recent report from the Harvard Business Review that said 80 percent of Super Bowl ads fail to increase purchases or purchasing intent. Makes you wonder about those big bucks those advertisers are spending. But I digress …

One thing you notice in these big games is the strategic use of the timeout. Each team gets three timeouts per half. There are additional timeouts that may be called by the officials. I started pondering (my longtime readers know where this is going) about a great question of life: How do you know you need a timeout?

Timeouts are called when you need a few extra moments to think strategically. The coach may call a timeout to discuss a specific play to run at this moment. Sometimes, we need to pause long enough to think through our next step.

Timeouts are called when there is confusion on the field. The play clock is winding down. The players are out of position. A timeout lets you reset and refocus. Sometimes we need to pause long enough to calm our minds before continuing.

Timeouts are called when a play needs to be reviewed. Things often happen so fast that the officials need to be sure that they made the correct call. Sometimes we need to pause long enough to see if a course correction in life is necessary.

Timeouts are called when there is an injury on the field. The injured player needs to receive the proper assistance before play resumes. Sometimes we need to pause long enough to be sure to care for those who are hurting.

Timeouts are called when the television network needs to go to commercial. … I’ve got nothing.

I spent part of this weekend with a group of pastors in a retreat. In many ways, it was a timeout from their busy schedules. All those timeout reasons above were partially observed (though that is not the metaphor we used). OK, maybe we didn’t deal with commercial breaks. But I think all the others were included in some way.

All those guys went back to work in their churches yesterday, more effectively, I hope, for having taken a timeout.

One of my favorite young couples has a precious 2-year-old named Selah. “Selah” is a Biblical term used 74 times in the Old Testament (71 in Psalms and three in Habakkuk). It is likely a musical term that refers to a pause or rest. The Amplified Bible translates it “Selah (pause and think of that).”

Sometimes we just need to pause and reflect. Reflect on the reality that our lives matter to God. Reflect on what He is teaching us through the circumstances of our lives.

Do you need a Selah today?

Dr. Gerry Lewis, author, blogger, church consultant and leadership coach, serves as executive director of the Harvest Baptist Association headquartered in Decatur.

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