By Frank Powell
In 1967, experts on time management delivered a report to the U.S. Senate. These experts believed the speed of technology, satellites and robotics would present a big problem for the American workplace in the years to come. The problem? People would have too much free time. Here’s what they concluded:
“By 1985, people might have to choose between working 22 hours a week, 27 weeks a year or retiring at 38.”
Good call, “experts.” If I had a time machine, I would fire all of you.
Almost 50 years later, we’re moving faster than ever. We’re addicted to speed, obsessed with hurry. This addiction now has a name … “hurry sickness.”
Hurry sickness is defined as “a continuous struggle to accomplish more things and participate in more events in less time, frequently in the face of opposition, real or imagined, from other people.”
If you’ve ever laid on the horn because the person in front of you didn’t turn fast enough, switched lanes to avoid slow drivers or changed lanes at the grocery store because another lane had fewer people, you might suffer with hurry sickness.
Our pace is out of control. And if we compare our pace to the pace of Jesus’s life, there aren’t many similarities. Jesus was never rushed. He didn’t cater to the demands of the world. He wasn’t overwhelmed by life, even though he had an enormous mission to complete in a very short period of time.
Jesus never rushed because he moved at God’s pace. You see, hurry isn’t from God. It’s the world’s pace. It’s Satan’s pace. Psychiatrist Carl Jung said, “Hurry is not OF the devil. Hurry IS the devil.”
Culture’s obsession with busyness and hurriedness isn’t just a scheduling problem. It’s a heart problem. It’s time to consider what a hurried life is costing us.
And, make no mistake, the cost is enormous.
Here are seven consequences of living a hurried life.
1. A hurried life destroys your relationship with God.
Wing Mandao, a Chinese pastor, said, “We have so much to do that we never really commune with God as he intended in the Garden of Eden.”
Intimacy with God requires stillness, attentiveness and silence. You must get off life’s busy freeway to grow closer to God.
Jesus frequently removed himself from the world. He spent time alone in prayer and solitude. And in these moments, Jesus received the strength to fulfill his mission, the confidence to continue his mission and the wisdom to discern the ways of God from the ways of the world.
Unless you spend extended periods of time alone with God through prayer, solitude and sabbath, the speed of the world will skew your understanding of God. Anxiety, unrest and discontentment will hover over your life like a dark storm cloud.
As Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
2. A hurried life feeds “Approval Addiction.”
When your life moves at a hurried pace, you seek validation and approval in a hurried way. This explains why social media resonates with so many people. The Instagram photos and Facebook posts give you instant validation. No need to invest in relationships where people actually know you. That is time consuming. Our culture is “in bed” with large followings and spotlights. The short-term result is validation. But the long-term consequences are burnout, loneliness and overcommitment.
You see, crowds are fickle. Followings are self-seeking. They love you … until you say something they disagree with. I’ve seen this in ministry. A new family places membership, gets plugged in, becomes frustrated with an individual or church philosophy, then strikes out to the door down the road.
Jesus never catered to the crowds. He often retreated from crowds to be alone. He gave his most controversial sermons when the largest crowds gathered around him. In fact, on one occasion in John 6, Jesus said something so controversial that many of his disciples left and never followed him again.
That type of behavior is foreign to American Christians. Our churches often cater to crowds. We love the instant validation from a packed auditorium on Sunday morning. But Jesus didn’t care about Facebook likes or packed auditoriums. Jesus knew you couldn’t point a crowd to God if you needed their approval.
American Christians could learn something from Jesus. Are we attracting crowds to fill our self-seeking desire for quick validation? On a personal level, are you living the life you proclaim?
You can’t preach the difficult message of self-denial if you attract people on the basis of self-interest. You can’t embrace the scandalous, radical life of Jesus if you need the approval of others.
Jesus knew this. That’s why he disengaged from the crowds. He wanted to be driven by God’s desires, not the crowd’s demands.
3. A hurried life decreases your capacity to love others.
It’s not a coincidence that the great love passage, 1 Corinthians 13, begins with “Love is patient.” Love isn’t easily angered. Love doesn’t leave at the first sign of trouble. It doesn’t rush to judgment.
Love and hurry can’t co-exist. Matthew Kelly, in The Rhythm of Life, says relationships can only thrive under “carefree timelessness.” And this is something hurried people don’t have. The more you increase the speed of your life, the less capacity you have to love others.
Considering the two greatest commandments are to love God and love others, you need to consider whether your hurried life is costing you more than you realize.
It saddens me to think about the failed marriages that are the product of an impatient culture. I think about the prodigal Christians that have been abandoned because we have no capacity to wait.
Love is patient. Are you?
4. A hurried life increases the power of temptation.
Why did Jesus wait until he was 30 to begin his ministry? Why did he immediately go into the wilderness with the Spirit for 40 days after his baptism?
Through my American lens, it seems like Jesus wasted most of his life doing nothing. He could have performed miracles long before 30, and his following might have been larger. Who knows, more people might know Jesus today if he started his ministry earlier.
That’s a no-brainer, God. Why can’t you see what I see?
Because I’m moving at the world’s speed. The 30 years Jesus spent in relative obscurity weren’t wasted years. God was developing an important virtue in Jesus … patience.
Through temptation, Satan tries to decrease the time between impulse and action. And, in our instant gratification culture, Satan has masterfully deceived people.
So many of my mistakes—sex before marriage, stealing, drunkenness, porn addiction—are the result of looking for instant gratification. Could it be that Jesus lived a perfect life largely because he started his ministry with a strong understanding of patience and waiting?
These virtues take time to build. When you nurture patience, you trust God to give you the things IN TIME Satan says you need NOW.
5. A hurried life numbs you to the injustices that break God’s heart.
Hurry is a desensitizer, snuffing out moments of intimacy with life to the point that we get used to living day after day with little deep feeling. —Kirk Jones
I was a pitcher in high school. When I pitched, my coach always told me not to worry about the crowd. Instead, he said to focus on locating my pitches. In the movie For the Love of the Game, Kevin Costner’s character called this “clearing the mechanism.” In other words, create a “tunnel vision” where you see nothing but the catcher behind home plate.
When your life moves at freeway speed, you have no time or energy to consider the world outside of your lane. You become desensitized or unaware of brokenness in the world. Your heart becomes calloused to the things that break God’s heart. The Syrian refugee crisis. The abortion of millions around the world. The heinous treatment of God’s people by ISIS.
God’s heart breaks for injustice and oppression. If your heart doesn’t break for the things that break God’s heart, it’s time to slow down and consider the world outside of your lane.
6. A hurried life increases narrow-mindedness and legalism.
Superficiality is the curse of our age. —Richard Foster
A hurried life promotes a shallow, narrow-minded understanding of God. Information is at your fingertips. Any podcast from almost any preacher can be accessed with a few clicks. You can purchase books with your phone. Type in any question, Google will answer it in seconds.
With all this information, you would think Christians would know more about God than ever. But that’s just the problem. Information teaches you ABOUT God. Information increases knowledge. But knowledge alone leads to legalism.
Truly knowing God requires discernment and wisdom. These grow incrementally through reflection, solitude, prayer and Christ-centered community. The difference between knowledge and wisdom is the difference between “God can’t work that way” and “I can’t believe God worked that way.” It’s the difference between “either/or” and “both/and.” It’s the difference between the disciples, having minimal knowledge about God but recognizing Jesus when he approached them, and the Pharisees, having a wealth of knowledge but crucifying Jesus when he approached.
Wisdom is slow. It can’t be microwaved or manufactured. Don’t expect to understand the upside-down movements of the Spirit if you move at the world’s speed.
7. A hurried life clouds your purpose and diminishes your passion.
“Purpose” is a trendy word in today’s culture. It’s also more elusive than the Loch Ness Monster. “What is my purpose?” is one of the most popular questions I hear as a college/young adult pastor.
Many college and young adults consider their life’s purpose in this season because they’re choosing a career. And, in a hurried culture, your life’s purpose is determined by what you do. Your career. It’s all about what you can see. What you can hold.
But God’s idea of purpose isn’t about DOING. It’s about BECOMING. So, the ultimate question when considering your purpose isn’t, “What do you DO?” Instead, the question is, “Who are you BECOMING?”
You can do good things for God. But if those good things don’t flow from a relationship with God, discovering your purpose will feel a lot like looking for a two-legged unicorn.
So, think about these questions. Are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control increasing in your heart? Are you a man or woman of integrity? Are you trustworthy? Do the people who know you most respect you the most?
A hurried life looks externally for answers to life’s big questions. But a life at God’s pace looks internally for these answers.
Your life’s pace matters. Unless you move at God’s speed, you won’t see the world through God’s lens. It’s time to slow down. It’s time to stop allowing Satan to drag you onto the freeway of ever-increasing speed.
I don’t believe God is impressed with an exhaustion. He isn’t glorified when you take on so many responsibilities that your soul floods with unrest and discontentment. Feeling burnt out isn’t a badge of faithfulness.
Take your foot off the gas. Slow down. Your pace matters because the speed of your life reveals the driver of your soul. So, who’s behind the wheel of your life?
I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!