A number of years ago I took a test called “StrengthFinders.” By answering a series of questions the assessment evaluated my strengths and weaknesses and created a profile of my top strengths, the things I’m really good at. Maybe you’ve done a similar assessment?
One of the strengths identified is called “Achiever.” An achiever is someone who likes to get things done, they wake up in the morning with a checklist of things they need to do. Achievers love to put a check in box that says “finished.” That is so me.
I wake up in the morning and before my feet hit the floor I have a list of things I need to get done. In the shower I refine and prioritize my list. When I emerge from our bedroom, I know exactly what I need to do that day and I start getting things done.
I love to get things done. In fact one of my favourite books is called “Getting Things Done.” I’ve read it multiple times, it even has a cool acronym for it, GTD.
I’m not alone in wanting to accomplish things and get things done. Our culture is built around accomplishments and getting things done. We get paid according to what we get done. We advance our careers based on what we’ve done over time.
When we meet someone new, one of the first things we ask is “what do you do?”
We keep track of the points we score, even in friendly pickup games with our kids (okay, maybe that’s just me).
Whether we’ve been identified as an achiever or not, we all want to get things done. We define ourselves by what we are doing, have done, or want to do.
One of my favourite stories is of a man named Elijah who got things done. The story is found in 1 Kings 19 and in it, Elijah travels to a place called Mt. Sinai to meet with God.
In the story, Elijah is in a cave, waiting for God to show up. Elijah has been very busy and I’m sure he’s filled with impatience. God finally shows up and says, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9)
“I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your alters, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I’m the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” (1 Kings 19:10)
Can you hear the frustration and impatience in Elijah’s voice? Elijah is basically saying, “I’ve been busy getting things done for you! That’s what I’m doing and on top of all that, I’m the only done doing it! Now, I’m standing around here waiting for you to do something.”
God responds saying,
“Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”
(1 Kings 19:11-12)
It was in the gentle whisper that Elijah encountered and heard from God. God wasn’t in all of the exciting activity or the busy-ness of what had come before, he was found in silence and stillness.
Sometimes in the midst of all our getting things done, we can find ourselves missing out on the presence and whisper of God. Even in the midst of doing stuff for him, like Elijah was, we can miss him and feel alone. Have you ever experienced this?
God is not found in the next achievement or the next box you or I check on our to-do lists. God is not found in striving to do more or to be better, there’s nothing you have to do to earn his attention or affection. God is waiting for you and he is found in quietness and stillness, not in getting things done.
When was the last time you were still? When was the last time you listened for the whisper of God and stood in his presence? I mean really stopped and where still?
What if you today you put away your checklist, and stopped striving for a while? What if you waited for God to “show up.” I wonder what you might happen? I wonder if, like Elijah, you might experience and hear something you never expected.
Elijah went back to getting things done, cause you can’t stop an achiever, but he did so with a new purpose and a new direction because he’d met with God and listened to God. I wonder what’s waiting for you in the stillness and quiet?