The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer
Here I am typing on a Sunday afternoon. There’s roughly an hour until church and my brain is functioning somewhat like the whack-a-mole game. Typical. I have an ongoing grocery order going on my app while simultaneously thinking about the teachers’ manual I need to finish reading before a meeting tomorrow night. A quick glance at Pinterest will help me nail down exactly how I want my classroom to be set up. Just ordered school uniforms while eating chocolate pudding. My Mom’s in town and we have been chatting as all this is happening. Hold on while I look at the Life360 app to see if my husband is still playing golf or on his way home. Yep. Okay a few minutes to text those friends back. Let me finish writing that blog. BAM. BAM. BAM.
In his book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, John Mark Comer shot truth bullets that hit me deep. Cue disturbing trend: my attention span – OUR attention span – is on a trajectory of dropping with each passing year. It’s no surprise my thoughts are this scattered. According to him, in 2000, before the digital revolution, we had an attention span of twelve seconds. Not good. Since then it has dropped to EIGHT seconds which is worse than a goldfish. For real. Goldfish have an attention span of nine seconds and my thought process today proves they’re doing better than me.
I am in a hurried hurry. That’s not a typo. Can you relate? The title of the book is actually: The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World. Yes, please. So Comer, was living overwhelmingly hurried. He recalls a meeting with a mentor, John Ortberg, who could relate. Ortberg was no stranger to the “hurried hurry” boat and passed on advice HIS mentor (notice the trend? They are leaders who have mentors and are being discipled…) gave him:
When Ortberg called up his mentor, Dallas Willard, he asked what he needed to do to become the “me” he wanted to be. There was a long silence on the other end of the line… and then the million-dollar answer: “YOU MUST RUTHLESSLY ELIMINATE HURRY FROM YOUR LIFE,” he said. Wow. This was such a solid answer. Don’t you agree? Ortberg asked him what else he should do.
Willard: “There is nothing else. Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
MIC DROP. End of Story. You’re welcome.
More time is not the answer. Following the way of Jesus IS the solution. Comer shares some blow-your-mind stats about how much time is wasted by US each year in this book. He personally reads 2-3 books a week (you go, boy) which is roughly one hundred and twenty-five books a year. That’s impressive. Right? However, Charles Chu’s calculations say the average American reads two hundred to four hundred words per minute SO WE COULD all be reading two hundred books a year if we just committed 417 hours. This sounds like way too many hours. We don’t have time for that. Are you sure?
How much time does the average American spend on social media each year? 705 hours. Wow. Television? 2,737.5 hours. Ouch. The Bible says where my treasure is there my heart is also (Matthew 6:21). If time is a treasure, and it is, WHAT AM I DOING? I should have way more time to read fill-in the-blank more books each year…and wait for it…MORE TIME FOR GOD. WITH JESUS. More time is NOT the solution.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” -Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30
The word “yoke” was a common idiom used to describe a rabbi’s way of reading the Torah, yes. It was also his WAY or his example and set of teaching on how to be human. Jesus’ WAY is an easy way. Comer put it simply:
1. Be with Jesus
2. Become like Jesus
3. Do what Jesus would do if He were you
Read the book, ya’ll. He has so much more to say about being an apprentice to Jesus. As I follow Jesus the whole point is to model EVERYTHING in my life after Him. I’ll say it again, Jesus is the solution. Not just believing in Him or knowing what He did on the cross. Not following rules. Following Him. He alone can recover my soul.
Practices for Unhurrying Your Life
This book that opened a can of “wow I am a hot, hurried mess” on me. It did not, however, dump it on my head and leave me with no practical advice on steps moving forward. The “practices” of Jesus he outlines are silence and solitude, sabbath, simplicity, and slowing. These are all things Jesus LIVED. It makes so much sense. In Matthew 3, Jesus was baptized, came up out of the water to the audible voice of God saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) Annnnd right after that the first thing Jesus did was head straight into the “desert” alone. Solitude. Desert was the Greek word eremos which can be translated
· Solitary place
· Lonely place
· Quiet Place
· Desolate Place
The second practice, Sabbath, comes from the Hebrew word Shabbat. It means “to stop.” Stop working, stop shopping, stop compulsively checking e-mail, worrying, hurrying, over-scheduling... for just one day each week STOP. Keep it holy. It’s in the 10 Commandments for a reason. God rested after six days. We need rest.
Jesus lived simply. Simplicity was His thing. It turns out simple is actually BETTER than surplus. Comer shares some pretty shocking numbers. Princeton University had two great minds collaborate on a nationwide research project surveying emotional health relative to financial status. Dr. Daniel Kahneman and Dr. Angus Deaton concluded that overall well-being DOES rise with an individual’s income, but only to a point. After that point people either plateau, or interestingly, decline. That point is $75,000. That’s it. Once a person reaches what most of us call “middle-class,” the things of this world have provided all the “happiness” they will be able to deliver. The Notorious B.I.G. nailed it when he said, “Mo Money, Mo Problems.”
As our football-coaching family moves forward into all things Fall and football, I am grateful I stumbled upon this book this summer. The last section on slowing is something I plan to re-visit as often as needed during our busiest time of the year. He shares twenty ideas to “gamify” the discipline of slowing. I love this because if I’m given a list of rules to follow just to accomplish a goal…ew. No thanks. However, tell me twenty ways I could have fun as I slow down, seeking to live more like Jesus? Let’s do it. I’m won’t spoil the book by sharing said ideas because I strongly believe it is worth reading from start to finish.
“Un-hurrying” is tough for me as an Enneagram 7 who wrestles with FOMO five times a day at least. It is, however, the one new spiritual goal I am pursuing this fall as a follower of Jesus. If this sounds like something you’d love, you can read the first two chapters here if you subscribe to John Mark Comer’s newsletter. Will you ruthlessly eliminate hurry with me?