Not long after moving to Chicago, I called a wise friend to ask for some spiritual direction. I described the pace of life in my current ministry. The church where I serve tends to move at a fast clip. I also told him about our rhythms of family life: we are in the van-driving, soccer-league, piano-lesson, school-orientation-night years. I told him about the present condition of my heart, as best I could discern it. What did I need to do, I asked him, to be spiritually healthy?
“You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life,” he said at last.
Another long pause.
“Okay, I’ve written that one down,” I told him, a little impatiently. “That’s a good one. Now what else is there?” I had many things to do, and this was a long-distance call, so I was anxious to cram as many units of spiritual wisdom into the least amount of time possible.
Another long pause.
“There is nothing else,” he said. “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
I’ve concluded that my life and the well-being of the people I serve depends on following his prescription, for hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. Hurry destroys souls. As Carl Jung wrote, “Hurry is not of the devil; hurry is the devil.”
The long quoted section above is from the article, Ruthlessly Eliminate Hurry, written by John Ortberg back in 2002 for Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal. This idea is more fully fleshed out in John’s latest book, Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You. By the way, his friend he refers to in the article — the one who gave him the advice to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry” was Dallas Willard.
“You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
Eliminating hurry from my life is such a hard thing. I feel like I’m in a hurry from the time the morning alarm goes off till I lay my head on my bed at the end of the night.
But a hurried life brings all kinds of problems with it…..some things that automatically come to mind:
- anxiety and stress in our lives and those of our kids.
- disconnected relationships with our kids, spouses and friends.
- marital drift in the hurriedness of having your kids in lots of activities.
- poor physical, emotional, mental and psychological health.
- impoverished spiritual life — not slowing down enough to listen to God’s voice. My schedule doesn’t often reflect that of someone who values my relationship with God and desires to connect with Him.
And these are just a few of the things I can automatically think of.