These notes were posted in his friend’s kitchen after he passed away:
“Hurry, involves the excessive haste or state of urgency. It is associated with words such as hurl, hurdle, hurly-burly (meaning ‘uproar’), and hurricane.”
“Hurry is a state of frantic effort one falls into in response to inadequacy, fear, and guilt.”
Those were on page one of John Mark Comer’s book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. And let me tell you, this book is life-changing.
This book was mentioned on Nancy Ray’s podcast, and then my mom heard about it from a friend, and then my brother heard about it, all within a couple weeks from 3 different people in each of our own worlds. We were sitting around the dinner table, when we had this crazy moment that God must really be wanting this for our family.
So, we ordered a couple books and we all, ironically, read through this book so fast… we just couldn’t put it down.
About The Book
This book is a really easy read. John Mark Comer writes as if you are sitting across from him at a coffee shop. He simply tells his story of being the head pastor for a megachurch in Portland and leaving to live a slower, quieter life while enjoying his family and running only one church.
He shares his takeaways, the good, the bad, the hard, the fruitful, and what the bible says when it comes to hurry in our lives. (Hint: The bible isn’t the biggest fan of hurry)
We live our lives in a frenzy and most of the time we don’t even realize it. We are running on no steam. Little sleep. Next task to the next task. Another cup of coffee, just to get by. We hardly ever stop and rest. And everyone is busy.
Hurry doesn’t make space for the things that matter most in life. The first thing to go when we are in a hurry is quiet time with the Lord. Our relationships are strained. Our health is compromised. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” And our work actually suffers.
“The simple essence of hurry is too much to do! The good of being delivered from hurry is not simply pleasure but the ability to do calmly and effectively – with strength and joy – that which really matters.”
Jesus teaches another way to live. One that is peaceful and slow and quiet. One that connects with people and relationships. The way He teaches reconnects you to the Lord. It gives you the space to heal and grow and rest. And it gives you tools to make your workload lighter and your work more intentional. Jesus’ way brings joy back into your life. It’s the narrow path.
The book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry starts with talking about the problem. How did our world get up to this crazy pace? Why it is killing us and just how horrible is it?
And then it pauses. He puts an intermission in the middle of the book. And he looks at how Jesus lived without hurry and all the principles and spiritual disciplines the Bible talks about.
And then he has four chapters that cover practices that Jesus lived out and talked about: Silence & Solitude, Simplifying, Sabbath, and Slowing. In each one of those chapters, he goes into detail teaching about them and then sharing the practical ways that we can begin to actually implement these spiritual disciplines.
He calls them practices. And I like that. Because we think that coming off of a hurry high would be so nice and relaxing and what our bodies just crave. But the reality is that it’s hard. John Mark Comer said the reality of it is more like a meth-addict coming off of drugs.
Rushing around is our new normal. We actually love it and the world praises those who can do more, faster (they even give us a cute name, hustlers). And it is really challenging to slow ourselves down. But it is worth committing to strive for a calm, slow life and walking the narrow path with Jesus.
Here’s My Takeaways
As I thumb through this book, I have so many takeaways, notes, and dog-eared pages, that it is challenging to only share a few. But here are the ideas that I find myself dwelling on most and rethinking and processing in my mind.
1. Noise and Distraction is the Enemy
I mentioned this in my first blog back after I took a few months off over the summer. The Bible talks about how we hear God’s whisper in the quiet moments of life. The quiet is overwhelmingly good for our souls. And here’s the thing, satan knows that.
John Mark Comer talks about how we don’t give the enemy enough credit. He can pull us in a million different directions so subtly. Whether it be through a text, Instagram, ‘urgent’ email, work emergence, a needy baby. He knows the areas we are just too weak. And he knows the things that can quickly make our world so loud that we can no longer hear the gentle voice of God anymore.
We need to be on guard to silence both the internal (thoughts, memories, moments, reliving conversations, planning, dreaming, etc.) and the external (phone, text, emails, music, tv, busy house, podcast, and so on) noise in our life. Because once our world is quieter, we can begin to allow God’s voice to speak to us.
2. Rush and Hurry Steals Joy and Relationships
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control… these are the fruit of an unhurried spirit.
When we are in a rush, hurried, and frantic, we have no wiggle room for the things that matter most.
Relationships take time. They are slow and patient. They grow like a little budding plant. And they need to be maintained and cared for.
Being intentional about slowing down, offers us the space to be with others and invest time with them, to enjoy their company and just be with them.
3. The Twin Gods: Accumulation and Accomplishment
John Mark Comer calls them the twin gods: accumulation and accomplishment. This is what we strive for in America. And we praise those who have both. To accumulate a lot, have the best of the best, always be collecting more. And to be recognized as very accomplished: to have an amazing degree, soar to the top of our industry, travel to the world’s finest places, and so on.
This is the message of the world. Just work harder. But the thing is there is always something better. It’s a carrot dangling in front of us, we will never be able to reach it. Once we get the next thing, that promised us so much happiness and success, there is always another thing that would be better and make us happier or be recognized as successful.
The writer of Ecclesiastics calls it ‘chasing the wind.’ We will never be able to reach that complete happiness through earthly things.
The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry talks about how we as human beings are finite. God is infinite. We can never read every book, listen to every podcast, watch every latest tv show, be the best in every industry, travel all over the world, fill in the blank.
It’s impossible to do it all because God has created us with limits and boundaries. And that is actually freeing. We can never accumulate and accomplish everything that promise happiness.
That truth stops the madness for us. It says work hard and be content with where you are now. However, we don’t need to constantly be defying our boundaries, like the world encourages us to break through the glass ceiling, rather be content with where God has us in this moment.
And even if we did, it would be chasing the wind. We still wouldn’t be content. And we won’t be until we are in heaven with God in perfect union, the way he originally created it. We have a God-sized hole in our hearts, and it can’t be filled with anything this world has to offer.
So, we can stop striving. We can stop chasing after the wind, and running around in a hurry, worshiping the twin gods. And we can put them in their place.
4. With the Death of Hurry Comes Resurrection and New Life.
“We read the stories of Jesus—his joy, his resolute peace through uncertainty, his unanxious presence, his relaxed manner and how in the moment he was – and think, I want that life. We hear his open invite to ‘life… to the full’ and think, Sign me up. We hear about his easy yoke and soul-deep rest and think, Gosh, yes, heck yes. I need that. But then we’re not willing to adopt his lifestyle.
But in Jesus’ case it is worth the cost. In fact, you get back far more than you give up. There’s a cross, yes, a death, but it’s followed by an empty tomb, a new portal to life. Because in the way of Jesus, death is always followed by resurrection.”
I loved this passage in the book because to eliminate hurry means you have to say no to some things.
And that’s hard. It comes at a cost. And sometimes it comes with a big cost. John Mark Comer left his mega-church and all the income and ‘accomplishment’ and ‘success’ that comes with running a megachurch, to lead one church really well. That’s a pretty big cost or death, if you will.
This is where the rubber meets the road. You have to trust that the way of Jesus is more life-giving than this thing that is promising to deliver happiness, success, and accomplishment. It’s having to trust that God promises to follow that death with a resurrection that is even more full of life than you could have had with it. Whatever ‘it’ might look like for you.
God doesn’t force us to give it up or to change, rather he lets us willingly give it up. He allows us to get there on our own and choose to trust that He is faithful and good and that in the way of Jesus, death is always followed by a resurrection.
There is so much more I could say about this book. So many more thoughts that just keep coming up. But mostly, I think this book has just been eye-opening.
Noticing that everyone is busy, despite all the different seasons of life. Busy is normal. Burnout is normal. And we just accept it, as if that’s the way of life. But that’s not the way God intended it.
It’s eye-opening to realize that not only does God, discourage busyness, but he gives commands to rest. If you live the way God has intended, he gives rest to the weary. He is a God of peace, stillness, and quiet.
And then Jesus models what that looks like for us and how we should actually be living. It’s freeing just simply to realize that we don’t have to accept being busy as the new normal. There is another option.
Everyone should read this book. If you at all feel worn out and tired, there is hope. If this book interests you, you can find it in the shop the blog section, HERE.