From the Pew

Unhurrying your life

30 September 2022

Unhurrying Your Life

A Book Review by Sarah Bell

“How are you going? How is work? How is the family?”

If you are familiar with these small-talk questions and your usual response is anything along the lines of the following, then this book is definitely for you.

“Everything is going well. We’re busy but it’s good.” 

“Work is pretty stressful at the moment and the kids have activities every day. I can’t wait for [insert holiday here].”

When did busy become the measure of a full and meaningful life? When did busy become the measure of a good life? Do you constantly feel like there is not enough time to get everything done?

John Mark Comer opens his book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, with his own experience of being highly successful and burnout-busy, before making the choices that went along with slowing down and eliminating hurry from his agenda. He realised that with so much hurry in his life, he was not able to enjoy anything at all. His relationships were suffering and as the leader of a large Church, he could not possibly lead people to God when his own relationship with God was getting missed in his hurry.

The book is broken up into 3 main parts – the problem, the solution and practices for unhurrying your life. He always takes you back to the bible to show how a problem not only causes damage in our earthly relationships, but also our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Part One: the problem

Comer directly challenges each and every person to slow down and points out why is seems nearly impossible to do so. Put simply, we are all distracted. Each of us may have items on our to-do-list that never seem to get done, no matter how much we might have the desire to do so. The things that really matter most will get our focus and our attention. When we are trying to focus on too many things, we are going to find ourselves hurrying from one to another, possibly stumbling but definitely causing damage along the way.

Our culture has become one of experiencing and comparing. Have you watched the latest movie? Have you seen the latest technology? How many sports are your kids playing? Cramming more and more into our lives is seen as being fulfilled but Comer points out that it leads to hurry sickness and this directly separates us from God. For those who enjoy a list, he gives 10 ways in which hurry sickness might present and how when it is present, we forget to be aware of God and our relationship with Him.

Part Two: the solution

We must all accept that we are limited and we are not limitless. We are finite and we cannot see, know, experience or own everything. We are not God. Hurry and the societal norms around hurry, encourage us along this pathway and it is a dangerous one. We can be drawn into comparison with others, a competitive spirit that can become a thief to our joy, and rather than focusing on God’s design for our life, we yearn for the life we see on others.

The secret is deceptively simple and lies in the passage from Matthew 11:28-30. All of our burdens must be taken to Jesus and we must rest. We must stop trying to hurry our way through everything and relying on our own capacity to shoulder our burdens. Knowing how to come to Jesus is where part three comes into play.

Part Three: four practices for unhurrying your life

Having built a strong case for how and why we are all susceptible to hurry sickness, the clarity for the arguments of each practice are easy and clear. They are:

  • Silence
  • Sabbath
  • Simplicity
  • Slow Down

You will no doubt feel challenged by these suggestions, and possibly when you reach the final section of the book, which is an epilogue, and you might even consider Comer to be an extremist. His arguments against hurry are grounded in scripture and his focus is not only a closer relationship with God, but the flow on to a closer relationship with your family and friends too. This book is not about learning what else you need to fit into your already busy life. This book is about what you should do instead to prioritise the things that are going to help you live a fulfilled life. Whether you jump in with both feet and make a radical change or you just pick one small thing (like setting do not disturb times on your phone), the idea is to live in a way that serves and brings glory to God. Jesus simply commands us “follow me” and he lives a life free from hurry. For me, this is a book to be read twice per year because I am slow to learn and quick to try and speed up my life and hurry through.

Sarah Bell is a member of the Women’s Ministry Committee, and its sub-committee, Teaching & Training Women. She also serves on the Presbyterian Youth Committee, and is an engaged member at Cherrybrook Presbyterian Church.

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