In 1967, experts on time management delivered a report to the U. S. Senate. These experts believed technological innovations, 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 a quote from the report: “By 1985, people might have to choose between working 22 hours a week, 27 weeks a year, or retiring at 38.“
Nailed that one.
Technology has decidedly not decreased free time. These experts didn’t foresee us filling the productivity gaps with…more productivity.
And today, we’re addicted to speed. This addiction is so prevalent, we gave it 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 or switched from one checkout line to another at the grocery store because it had fewer people, you might suffer from hurry sickness.
Can we be honest with ourselves? Our pace is unhealthy. This is surely not debatable. Sure, we accomplish more and do so in less time. But at what cost?
Look at the life of Jesus. Do you find it strange that he never rushed? He didn’t cater to the world’s demands. Even though he had an enormous mission to complete in a short period of time, he was never overwhelmed or anxious.
Jesus had the weight of the world on his shoulders, literally, but he didn’t allow it to crush him.
Could it be that faster doesn’t equal better? Is it possible that the fast life doesn’t lead to the good life? I think so. Hurriedness isn’t from God. As psychiatrist Carl Jung said, “Hurry is not OF the devil. Hurry IS the devil.“
Before we get started, I don’t want you to think I’m waging war against productivity or speed. I’m not. I like technology. I like fast. I can’t imagine a world without planes and computers and the internet. I’m waging war against hurriedness, the idolatrous result of bowing down to speed and productivity.
Here are 5 things a hurried life costs us.
1. A hurried life prevents us from knowing God.
Last night, I read a book to my boys called Where Is God? The words hit me hard, so much so that I read them again after the boys went to sleep. Listen to this:
“Where is God…God is in the beginning…in the tiny hands of a baby…Where is God?…God is in the end…in the last bite of birthday cake…Where is God? God is in the world…God is everywhere…wherever we look.“
In a hurried world, we have no time for looking or waiting, no space to notice God. Life is about the next thing, the next event, the next item on our to-do list.
As long as we move at this speed, we shouldn’t wonder why our relationship with God suffers, why we seem lost and bored.
God is wherever we look, but are we looking?
2. A hurried life decreases compassion and empathy.
Compassion and empathy are similar but different. Compassion sees the suffering or pain of another person and has a desire to help. Empathy sees the emotions of another person and feels the same thing.
Compassion and empathy disappear in hurried cultures. Rather than helping our neighbor or listening to our hurting friend or co-worker, we resort to “pick up your bootstraps” and “get over it” attitudes, the very opposite of Jesus.
Jesus always made space for compassion, regardless of the demands around him. He welcomed children, fed thousands of hungry people and was continually side-tracked to heal the sick and talk with outcasts.
How might Jesus have fared in our time-management-obsessed culture?
What do you feel when you see someone hurting? What’s your response to someone with a different perspective? What about the outcasts and marginalized? Are you more inclined to stop and listen or judge them for not trying hard enough, making bad choices, etc.?
3. A hurried life increases anxiety, depression, and addiction.
Through my American lens, it seems like Jesus wasted most of his life. He was baptized at the age of 30. Immediately after his baptism, he went into the wilderness for 40 days. Jesus could have performed miracles long before 30, and his following might have been larger.
C’mon, God. Seems like a no-brainer. Maybe you need an expert on time management to help you steward the life of Jesus?…
…What’s that, God?…Yeah, you made the stars…Yeah, you were here long before me…Yeah, you’re right, having someone you created consult you sounds silly.
The 30 years Jesus spent in obscurity weren’t wasted years. God used those years to grow and nurture important virtues in Jesus…patience and self-control.
Temptation is, in essence, a decrease in the time between impulse and action. It should come as no surprise that anxiety, depression, and addiction plague a hurried culture. “Even instant gratification takes too long,” as actress Carrie Fisher once said.
If someone tells us to wait or wrestle with tension and pain rather than medicate it, you might as well tell us to slap a baby.
Could it be the 30 years prior to Jesus’s ministry and the 40 days in the wilderness created a gap between impulse and action so wide he was never mentally or spiritually capable of sin? I don’t know. I’m just thinking out loud. Not to say Jesus wasn’t physical susceptible to attack, but when Satan approached him, maybe his years of seasoning with patience and self-control prevented his mind and heart from acting on the physical impulses.
If so, maybe it’s time we stopped looking at obscurity and wilderness, tension and pain as negatives.
4. A hurried life destroys meaningful relationships.
Much of what makes life meaningful -friendships, family, and community – need the very thing hurried people don’t have: time.
Busyness strangles meaningful, life-giving relationships. Hurried people simply don’t have the space to maintain friendships or invest in new ones.
I’ve seen this in my life. Between work, kids, and family, I’ll go weeks, months even, without calling my best friends…and not realize it.
Marriage is also greatly affected by hurriedness. The great love passage – 1 Corinthians 13 – how does it begin? “Love is patient.”
Love isn’t rushed. Great marriages, the ones I see looking at my grandparents, the ones filled with peace and joy and hope, they take years. But, let’s be honest, we don’t have years. And I wonder how many divorces and broken homes are the product of impatience?
Then there are kids. Kids might suffer more than anyone from our busyness and hurry. As a father of three, I feel it’s my duty to protect my kids from boredom. But, today, as they put socks on their hands, running frantically through the house trying to catch a flying monster, I wonder if I need my kids to protect me.
Carefree timelessness is the oxygen that keeps meaningful relationships alive, and the birthplace of wonder, joy, and creativity.
5. A hurried life leads to a superficial, meaningless existence.
“Purpose” is a trendy word in today’s culture, and rightfully so, we were created for something larger than ourselves. But in a hurried world, a purposeful life is more elusive than the Loch Ness Monster.
Your purpose is unique to you. It’s an outpouring of your passion and gifts. Uncovering these requires introspection, looking inside yourself. It requires stillness and time with God.
Busy people have no time for introspection and stillness. The result is a world of copy-cats and posers. In a hurried world, we would rather imitate someone than become the unique men and women God created us to be.
We can be sure we’re moving at an unhealthy speed when we’re more concerned with what we’re doing than who we’re becoming, more concerned with external validation than integrity.
And we can be sure a meaningless, self-seeking existence awaits us unless we learn to slow down.
Your life’s pace matters. A fast life isn’t necessarily a good life. A more productive life isn’t necessarily a more meaningful one.
I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!