Five years ago, John Mark Comer was leading a mega-church, working insane hours, and addicted to his phone, yet he knew something was off in his soul. The aha moment was when he realized the solution to this problem wasn’t about more time, but ruthlessly eliminating hurry from his life. John Mark understood that hurry is incompatible with the love, joy, and peace that are right at the center of Jesus’ vision of life in the kingdom of God. We pride ourselves on keeping up, running faster, doing more, and being always available. Yet if a fast-paced life is the goal, why was Jesus never in a hurry? The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry is a manifesto to slow down, savor each day, and love deeper rather than live faster. Discover how an unhurried life can draw you closer to God, to others, and to your own soul. It’s a grace to welcome John Mark to the farm’s front porch today…
The philosopher Dallas Willard once called hurry “the great enemy of spiritual life in our day,” and urged followers of Jesus to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
When I first came across his anti-hurry vision of life in Jesus’ kingdom, it struck a deep chord in my soul.
And yet his culprit for the “great enemy of spiritual life” is not what I would expect.
I live in one of the most secular, progressive cities in America, but if you were to ask me, What is the greatest challenge to your spiritual life in Portland? I’m not sure what I’d say – politics? Postmodernity? Progressive theology?
How would you answer that question?
I bet very few of us would default to “hurry” as our answer.
And yet the more I think about it, the more I agree.
Corrie Ten boom once said that if the devil can’t make you sin, he’ll make you busy.
Her logic is sound: both sin and busyness have the exact same effect—they cut off our connection to God, to other people, and even to our own soul.
Often, this isn’t how we think of “the devil” and his agenda in our life.
But in my experience as a pastor, the number one threat to people’s spiritual life is simply a lack of time.
People are just too busy to live emotionally healthy and spiritually rich and vibrant lives.
What do people normally answer when you ask the customary, How are you?
Oh good—just busy.
Granted, there is a healthy kind of busyness where your life is full with things that matter, not wasted on empty leisure or trivial pursuits. By that definition, Jesus himself was busy.
The problem isn’t when you have a lot to do; it’s when you have too much to do, and the only way to keep the quota up is to hurry.
And hurry is incompatible with life in Jesus’ kingdom.
Think about it: What has the highest value in the kingdom economy? Easy: love. Jesus made that crystal clear.
But love is painfully time consuming. All parents know this, as do all lovers, and most long-term friends. There’s no shortcut to love. No life hack. No killer app.
Hurry and love are oil and water: they simply do not mix.
All of my worst moments as a father, a husband, a pastor, even as a human being are when I’m in a hurry—late for an appointment, behind on my unrealistic to-do list, trying to cram too much into my day. I ooze anger, tension, a critical nagging—the antitheses of love.
If you don’t believe me, next time you’re trying to get your type B wife and three young, easily distracted children out of the house, and you’re running late (a subject on which I have a wealth of experience), just pay attention to how you relate to them.
Does it look and feel like love? Or is it far more in the vein of agitation, anger, a biting comment, a rough glare?
Hence, in the apostle Paul’s definition of love, the first descriptor is “patient.”
There’s a reason people talk about “walking with God,” not “running” with God. It’s because God is love.
God walks “slowly” because he is love. If he is not love he would have gone much faster. Love has its speed. It is an inner speed. It is a spiritual speed. It is a different kind of speed from the technological speed to which we are accustomed. It is “slow” yet it is lord over all other speeds since it is the speed of love.
The same is true for joy and peace—two of the other core realities of the kingdom. Love, joy, and peace are the triumvirate at the heart of the kingdom.
All three are more than just emotions, they are overall conditions of the heart.
They aren’t just pleasant feelings; they are the kinds of people we become through our apprenticeship to Jesus, who embodies all three ad infinitum.
And all three are incompatible with hurry.
Think of joy. All the spiritual masters from inside and outside the Jesus tradition agree on this one (as do secular psychologists, mindfulness experts, etc.): if there’s a secret to happiness, it’s simple—presence to the moment.
The more present we are to the now, the more grateful we are for what is, the more we tap into joy.
And peace? Need I even make a case? Think of when you’re in a hurry for your next event, running behind, or late for a flight, do you feel the deep shalom of God in your soul? A grounded, present sense of calm and well being? Of course not.
To restate: love, joy, and peace are at the heart of all Jesus is trying to grow in the soil of your life. And all three are incompatible with hurry.
In our culture slow is a pejorative. When somebody has low IQ, we dub them slow.
When the service at a restaurant is lousy, we call it slow.
When a movie is boring, again, we complain that it’s slow.
Case in point, Merriam-Webster: “mentally dull: stupid: naturally inert or sluggish: lacking in readiness, promptness, or willingness.”
The message is clear: slow is bad, fast is good.
But in the upside-down kingdom, our value system is turned on its head: hurry is of the devil; slow is of Jesus, because Jesus is what love, joy and peace look like in flesh and blood.
We simply cannot live with Jesus in His kingdom, and live a life of speed.
John Mark Comer lives, works, and writes in the urban core of Portland, Oregon, with his wife, Tammy, and their three children -Jude, Moses, and Sunday. He is the pastor for teaching and vision at Bridgetown Church and has a Master’s degree in biblical and theological studies from Western Seminary. John Mark is also the author of My Name Is Hope, Loveology, and Garden City.
Who are you becoming? That was the question nagging pastor and author John Mark Comer. By outward metrics, everything appeared successful. But inwardly, things weren’t pretty. So he turned to a trusted mentor for guidance and heard these words: “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life. Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life.” It wasn’t the response he expected, but it continues to be the answer he needs.
Too often we treat the symptoms of toxicity in our modern world instead of trying to pinpoint the cause. A growing number of voices are pointing at hurry, or busyness as a root of much evil. Within the pages of The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, you’ll find a compelling emotional and spiritual case against hurry and in favor of a slower, simpler way of life.
[ Our humble thanks to Waterbrook for their partnership in today’s devotion ]