The words sit on a table in the office my husband and I share now that we both work at home. And no matter how many times I read them, they feel like a mystery to me:

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you.” {1 Thessalonians 4:11}

I keep waiting to walk in one day and find an angelic sticky note that says, “Sorry, that sentence was a bit of a typo. What God really meant was . . .

Make it your ambition to change the world.

Make it your ambition to help everyone.

Make it your ambition to be perfect.

But every day when I come in those words are the same. And over time I’m slowly realizing maybe I’m the one who needs to change.

As someone who has found much of her worth in busyness, I’ve not appreciated the value of quiet. But God keeps drawing me deeper into a season with more silence and stillness.

I can relate to what Joanna Weaver shares in Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World:

“While there are many things that need to be done, things I’m capable of doing and want to do, I am not always the one to do them . . . What’s more, I may be stealing someone else’s blessing when I assume I must do it all.


How I wish I would have learned earlier in ministry to wait upon the Lord. Much of my energy and joy has been swallowed up by jobs and obligations that were not my own. I still tend to rush in, presuming to know His will rather than waiting to hear what He desires.


It is a costly mistake, for often, when the Holy Spirit does ask something of me, I’m either knee deep in another project or too exhausted from my latest exercise in futility to do what God wants of me.”

It’s in the quiet I can hear God whisper, “This is good, but not My best for you.”

It’s in the quiet my soul is restored.

It’s in the quiet I learn life is more about being than doing.

I need quiet and yet it never happens on its own. Life is loud. Maybe that’s why the Apostle Paul tells us to make it our ambition. We have to chase after it for there to be any possibility of it being part of our days.

Lately I’m finding quiet in little ways, like writing out one Psalm in a journal each morning, going on walks, stepping away from social media and doing creative work that will never be seen by the world. It feels hard and awkward. I have to fight thoughts like “You’re being so unproductive” the entire time.

But when I’m done, I serve better. I live better. I love better.

I’m slowly understanding why it’s time for a different, scandalous kind of ambition.

Will you join me? How do you find quiet in your life?

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  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Why are we all so driven to have to accomplish something monumental? Many of us seem to have a need to do this. I suppose there are many driving factors: seeking approval, wanting love, pride, fear, insecurity? I have suffered from the overcommitted, frenzied life, but God keeps calling me away to quiet and stillness. For me, He literally had to take my legs out from under me (talk about a bad case of living loud). Two major surgeries sidelined me and in them I rediscovered my love of writing, my love of reading His word, a love (and need) of quiet and stillness in His presence. The world keeps trying to suck me back in, but I’m learning discernment in what is mine to do and what isn’t. Thank you so much for the reinforcement I needed this morning.

  • http://Goddots.com Anne Watson

    I so resonate with the idea of “You’re being so unproductive.” How did we train ourselves to be so busy? For me, I am so exhausted that any quiet time automatically equals a nap. I’m pretty sure that there is much more to life if we take on less. Thanks for the great post.

  • Matthew & Anna Harrison

    Perfect word this am. Thank you.

  • http://www.thewatermarkedlife.com Janine Petry

    Thanks so much for these beautiful words. Just reading through them is an invitation into that stillness you’re experiencing. And I can relate; God’s been teaching me more and more about how to “be still and know” and one of the ways in which He’s leading me is to find that stillness is in observing nature. There’s something about PHYSICALLY getting STILL and then just letting His creation speak about Him to you. It’s an experience that makes me want to practice it regularly–but something I never had time for before. Now, I don’t want to miss what everything’s saying about Him; miss the chance to be refreshed through those still moments. Thanks for the reminder. :)

    • http://www.holleygerth.com Holley Gerth

      Yes.. there’s something so simply beautiful about nature!

  • Veronica

    Hi Holley, I’m an introvert by nature so periods of quiet are a necessity for me, without it I feel overwhelmed. I’m finding quiet in the simple things like reading and memorizing verses that steady, taking walks, biking and writing. Slowing down and taking the time to be, rather than just do. Appreciated your words of quiet this morning.

    • http://www.holleygerth.com Holley Gerth

      Time with a good book is one of my favorite things!

  • Marshalene

    Love this! So encouraging to me right now in my season of life. Thanks for sharing!

  • Melissa Greene Campbell

    This is so good and perfect for me to read this morning! Such confirmation. The Lord has been speaking to me to just sit, be still in His presence, and wait. Nothing else. And that is ok, because it’s what I need. It’s what will bring restoration to my soul, my mind, and my spirit. Then, I will be a better wife, mom, and friend. Thank you Holley!

  • http://ChasingHoliness.com/ Brenda

    Beautifully said. :)

    Just this morning, I was reading in my Bible that Jesus “…left in a boat to a remote area to be alone.” Even with all of the demands, crowds, pressures on Him–Jesus seems to have so often set the perfect example in scripture of practicing quietness.

    Lovely words today, thanks for sharing. :)

    • http://www.holleygerth.com Holley Gerth

      Yes! Just following Jesus, right? :)

  • KHoward

    Holley – your line about finding your worth in the busyness of life was so true for me. There have been so many of your posts that it seems like you are reading my mind. I so greatly appreciate your articulate way of sharing what can feel hard at times but, for me, really needs to be released.

    • http://www.holleygerth.com Holley Gerth

      Thank you for that.. we can learn together.

  • Sarah S

    In my twenty’s I had this strong powerful feeling that there was something more. Something more than working long hours until I was exhausted and partying all weekend. Something more than the empty marriage where we shared a house but not our lives. I was driven to find something more. In my 30’s after leaving my job to go back to school, a divorce, and really losing everything I’d worked so hard for…sitting in Church on Easter morning I prayed I want a new life. In that instant I new clear as day I was to go leave everything I was still holding on to, school, family, home, and travel to the other side of the US to marry my current husband. I did just that. I dropped everything. Picked up his mom in NM, my parents flew in, and we were married. Since that choice, I have found my something more. I have found the peace of loving and serving my husband living a quiet life. I keep my house and my garden and work alongside my husband. My something more…was a whole lot less and exactly where God wanted me to be.

    • http://www.holleygerth.com Holley Gerth

      “My something more…was a whole lot less” what an interesting way to put it, Sarah. Yes!

  • Jenn

    What a good and challenging question Bev! As I am in the misdt of winding down my first year back to teaching and getting into summer with two busy boys it is a very timely question for me. While I look forward to mornings of sleeping in, I know I will still need to

  • http://katiekump.com Katie Kump

    Thank you, Holley. The Lord gave one word for this year: faithful. And I thought it would be a loud, front-and-center, impressive kind of faithfulness on my part. Turns out, it’s a quiet, intimate, just-the-two-of-us kind of faithfulness from Jesus to me that spills out into quiet, intimate, meaningful faithfulness to the people He’s put the closest. Such a good word here.

    • http://www.holleygerth.com Holley Gerth

      Love that, Katie. XOXO

  • karen

    Thanks for pointing out that verse. It would be SO easy to miss it…to overlook it! But, I’ve now gone back to it over and over again this morning!

  • JeanneTakenaka

    Holley, I loved this post, and your perspective on this verse. Make it our ambition, our focus, to lead a quiet life. Wow, I hadn’t considered it quite like this before.

    It’s honorable to lead a quiet life. I think that’s what I struggle with. Those days when I’m stepping back from serving elsewhere to focus on my family, or the writing God has given me to do. He’s calling me to a quiet life. Not necessarily a “seen” life.

    When I’m leading a quiet life, it’s easier to hear the Lord when He calls to me. It’s easier to say yes when He asks me to do something. I so needed this today.

    You’ve got me thinking on this. Thank you.

    • http://www.holleygerth.com Holley Gerth

      Hugs, friend.

  • Judy

    I really enjoyed you article. The two most godly women I’ve ever known, Julia and Myrtle, led such a quiet and simple life. When I was a with them, esp Julia, I felt as if I was almost in the presence of God. I know that’s saying a lot….but they seemed to have that peace that passes my understsnding. You made me think of them and the quiet way they lived their lives. I loved them both so much and miss them. This word gives me something to ponder. Thank you so much. Judy

    • http://www.holleygerth.com Holley Gerth

      What a beautiful legacy!

  • http://martysmoosetracks.blogspot.com/ Marty

    Love this! These words encouraged me today. Thank you for sharing!

  • Paula Hutchinson

    This is beautiful, Holley. The graphic caught my attention in my social media feed because it is so true. When I saw that it was from you, I followed it here to read your words. I sighed a peaceful breath after reading it. Quiet. It’s sometimes unnerving, but it holds many gifts. Thank you for sharing your experience with it here with us.

    • http://www.holleygerth.com Holley Gerth

      Thank you for those kind words, Paula. :)

  • Kristin McVey Rakestraw

    I’m wondering how this works for women like me who are extroverted. I like some quiet time, but I function much better being around people than being alone for long periods of time. :)

    • http://www.holleygerth.com Holley Gerth

      Yes, an interesting question. It isn’t so much to find silence all the time, but to intentionally choose some quieter times to simply be instead of doing one million never-ending things.

  • Jeanne Doyon

    This has been me place lately. God has called me to REST, though it is not easy to do. Even when my physical body is still my mind is not. Part of this is because I am getting ready to launch a new ministry website and wonder – when should I be still and when should I march forward. If it is okay, I would like to link your post in my most recent blog post. Blessings, Holly and thanks for understanding my heart.

    • http://www.holleygerth.com Holley Gerth

      That would certainly be okay, Jeanne. Thank you for sharing! It’s a balance, isn’t it?

  • Deb Anderson Weaver

    Powerful post. I so relate to being so exhausted from doing what I think needs to be done that I can’t respond to what God wants me to do/be.

    Oh, yes–we are more than we do. I am learning this also. Today I posted about letting go of my endless expectations. I so want to hear His voice through the noisy, bossy clutter of my to-do list.

    • http://www.holleygerth.com Holley Gerth

      Exactly! We are more than what we do.

  • debbiehaleyangel

    Holley, every time I read your words, they inspire me. I have my faith in God, but I’m not at the depth you are and this makes me envious and makes me want to try and get as close as possible to Jesus. You sound so “at peace” in your words and I’m desperately craving some peace in my life. Thank you so much for sharing. xoxo

  • Karrilee Aggett

    I love this, Holley! I am feeling that call to quiet, as well! I just wrote about it today for my Five Minute Friday post before heading here to read your words. Last summer was difficult for me -a time of transition and empty nesting and oh how He was silent and not chatty… at first, I hated it. I mean – loathed… but I came to love it… to rest in it. This summer I am reading through The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith and it is so good. Each Chapter has a challenge at the end. The first challenge was sleep. The second (which is what I am on now) is to take five minutes a day and find sillence and quiet. I am rediscovering how it makes all the difference!

    • http://www.holleygerth.com Holley Gerth

      What an interesting challenge.. sleep. That’s given me something to think about!

  • Nancy Ruegg

    I, too, have over-committed myself at times, never even considering that I might be stealing someone else’s blessing. You are so right, Holley, that God never intended our level of busy-ness to be a measure of our worth or even faithfulness. It took me a long time to realize that.

    I’ve discovered a new quiet time as I tend four large pots of flowers, two on our front porch and two on the back deck. I’ve never been much of a plant person, but have really enjoyed the peaceful, satisfying task of tending the blooms, to keep them coming, while listening to the birds’ serenade. I try to take note of God’s glory in my surroundings. And each day I revel is signs of growth and health–with a sigh of relief the little darlings are surviving!

  • Zee

    After being angry from getting the short end of the stick ‘doing hard stuff’ as my hubby and daughter enjoy their lives. I had to be honest with myself, because my fears blocked possibilities! Then my soul finally caught up with my heart vomiting death. I was dead inside and making others miserable and sprinkled guilt on their good days and hearts becuase I kept myself locked in. Why waist my life? Im fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). I rethought about myself (crying praying, crying, praying) then I came across Galatians 5:1….For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

    I’ve been doing God’s business and including me time since then!!!!

  • http://janetbenson.com Janet Benson

    Your beautiful words came to me at the perfect time. God has brought me to a quiet season, and I wish I could say I followed willingly. You hit the nail on the head when you said “It feels hard and awkward.” Thank you for your reminder that when I’m done I will serve better, live better and love better. And, thanks to your timely post, I can relax, be still and be quiet.

  • Beth Williams

    I am slightly hyper active and love to be busy! Doing things makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something and worked as hard as others. After last year’s dealing with my aging father moving to assisted living and many health issues landing in ER 4 times–I found that I craved quiet spiritual whitespace. The hustle and bustle no longer appealed to me. Now I wish I could quit working or work part-time and have more quiet down time with God–basically I want to be a “local” missionary and help the helpless in my area. Work with Relay for Life, Habitat for Humanity, etc. I guess watching your aging parents slowly die–especially with dementia is hard and makes one really think about life!
    Blessings :)

  • onyxsta

    It is also in the quiet, we silence the noise of the world and tune in to God’s words over our lives. I’m slowly regaining the strength to continue the walk of faith, and through this journey, I’m learning the essence of silence and trust.

  • Susan

    I am finding lately that my soul needs rest and so the other areas of my life are feeling fragmented. I am exhausted (some of it is physical from an illness) – because I am not finding that alone time I so desire. reading your post just validated what my heart and soul have been crying for. Thank you.

  • Tammy

    how right you are that quiet does not happen on its own. The enemy “roars like a lion”. So good to hear your perspective on what quiet things we can do to still feel like we’re doing something yet we’re allowing God to do.
    :) So you don’t like to “be still and know” either?
    I recently got to hike six waterfalls and though He wasn’t leading me by quiet waters, I couldn’t hear anything else and it was a blessed peace in that cove of thundering mist. I could feel Him. And didn’t want to leave.
    That’s part of it, I think. Just that desire to linger and not leave Him.
    Thank you for your writing. I too was touched, as were all these other beautiful women.
    And thanks for the add on Twitter. :)

  • Miriam Ayala

    I am trying to be still and listen to the still small voice at this season of our lives, we have our home up for sell and no bites !!! Its been on the market for 6 months and we thought we heard it was time from the Lord, since I got laid-off from work and my mom in love passed last August. And she was the reason for us moving clear across the country to care for her. But what we have found in this dessert place is God’s love for us and provided the best church family i have had in over 35yrs of being saved. But we have a dilemna, our 8 beautiful grandchildren are clear across the country and we felt when our obligations are ended here we would move closer to them ..we are in the waiting period for our Lord to speak should we stay or should we go?