Summary of The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by john Mark Comer

John Mark Comer shares his transformational – yet still ongoing – journey from being a hurried & stressed out megachurch leader to being a peaceful & fulfilled small church pastor.

The Problem: Hurry

We live in a culture of excessive haste, of “pathological busyness” (Ronald Rolheiser), where the only way to keep up to pace of having too much to do (ie. the endless to-do list) is by hurrying.

“Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life in our day” (Dallas Willard).

This “hurry disease” is an insidious & diabolical pathogen from the devil.

By succumbing to “hurry disease”, we cut ourselves off from the presence of God and make it near impossible to love deeply and experience the peace & joy of the Kingdom. Simply put, love, joy and peace are incompatible with hurry.

Ever realize that all your worst moments in life happen when you are in a state of hurry?

Fuelled by rapid advances in technology & social media companies whose #1 goal is to consume as much of our time and conscious attention as possible through “social validation feedback loops” (ie. like buttons, comment boxes, etc), we live an over-busied & digitally distracted world of speed & the relentless pursuit of “more”.

The effects of this hurried pace of life has destroyed our ability to:

  1. Concentrate: How can you focus when there is so many things to get done? Multi-tasking & distraction is now the norm, as we are constantly bombarded with notifications from our devices (eg. how many times have you been distracted while reading this book summary – ouch?)
  2. Contemplate: How can you waste time in prayer when the to-do list is so long? A deep spiritual life seems impossible in today’s culture. Walter Adams, C.S. Lewis’ spiritual director, said: “Hurry is the death of prayer and only impedes and spoils our work. It never advances it.”
  3. Rest: How can you take a day off when you’re behind on so many important things? The Sabbath day has been practically eliminated by our culture. Workaholism (or just non-stop activity) is prevalent – and seen as a sign of importance (“busyness” is the new social virtue).
  4. Be Healthy: “We have become perhaps the most emotionally exhausted, psychologically overworked, spiritually malnourished people in history” (A.J. Swoboda, Subversive Sabbath, 5). Instead of finding healthy ways to rest, we engage in escapist behaviours (eg. drugs, Netflix binge, porn, etc).

The Solution

Jesus offers us a different life – a slower pace & simpler life around what really matters.

“To walk with Jesus is to walk with a slow, unhurried pace” (Walter Adams, spiritual director of C.S. Lewis).

In order for us to live the life of love, joy, and peace that Jesus desires so deeply for us to experience, we must eliminate hurry from our lives:

“Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life… There is nothing else.” (Dallas Willard).

4 practices for unhurrying your life:

  1. Silence & solitude: Jesus often took time for silence & solitude. We must follow the Master by finding external environments of silence (a quiet place) to allow ourselves to enter into internal silence, where we can re-connect with God and ourselves.
  2. Sabbath: Sabbath, in Hebrew, means both (1) to stop & (2) to delight. Our Sabbath rest, in imitation of the creation story in Genesis, must include both stopping all forms of work (to resist being slaves to Pharaoh and his empire – culture of “more”) & to delight in the important things of life (God, family, nature). Since God “blessed” the Sabbath day, it’s intended to be life-giving for us. Ask yourself: What Sabbath-day activities will be truly life-giving for my soul? Do those! Remember, this is the only spiritual disciple that God commanded us to do. So take it seriously.
  3. Simplicity: Jesus proposes an entirely counter-cultural view of wealth. Whereas the American society views happiness as making lots of money & owning lots of stuff, Jesus promotes simplicity as an essential part of happiness, in which we remove everything that distracts us from what matters most in life. Simplicity is essential for rebelling against the culture of “more” that fuels “hurry disease.” Simplicity also adds free time to your life, creating space for silence, solitude, and Sabbath rest.
  4. Slowing down: “Slow down your body, slow down your life.” Some ideas Comer puts forward include: (1) Driving – drive the speed limit, get into the slow lane, come to a full stop at stop signs, don’t text while driving; (2) Phone: Turn your smart-phone into a dumb-phone (no email, social media, grayscale, parent your phone – put it to bed at night); (3) Vacations: Take a full day once a month to be alone & totally detach from everything, take long vacations (we need time to recover).

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