Many of our daily interactions suffer from a debilitating illness. This disease clouds our eyes—we seldom seem to even see the people around us. It clogs our heart—we frequently fail to feel compassion for those near us. And it cripples our hands—we regularly neglect to lend a hand to those in need.
What is this malady? Author John Ortberg calls it “hurry sickness.”[i] It’s also known as busyness or hurriedness. Simply put, our fast-paced living undermines most of our attempts at Christ-like loving. It’s nearly impossible to truly see others, genuinely support others, and authentically serve others when we are going ninety-miles-per-hour. Love withers in the heat of hurry.
And we seem to be in an awfully big hurry. A survey of over twenty thousand Christians in more than one hundred countries found that forty percent of us say we “often” or “always” rush from task to task.[ii] Sadly, this number was even higher for church ministers (fifty-four percent).
But most of us probably don’t need a survey to help us spot this sickness in ourselves. We can feel it in our bones. A quick review of our day reveals that many of us exhibit one or more symptoms of hurry sickness:[iii]
- Speeding – Because we are plagued by fear that there are too many to-do’s and too little tick-tocks, we read faster, talk faster, drive faster, and work faster. Despite increased speed, however, we do not experienced increased productivity.
- Multi-tasking – While driving we’re also drinking, eating, and phoning. While we watch television we do homework and text. Doing one thing at a time seems like such a waste of time.
- Clutter – We have multiple to-do lists, stacks of unread magazines and tons of unfinished projects. There’s not enough time to straighten up each area of our life, thus we straighten up no area of our life.
- Superficiality – We do not have the time to develop deep character or create deep relationships. As a result, we settle for the superficial.
- Lovelessness – Ortberg writes, “The most serious sign of hurry sickness is a diminished capacity to love. Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible. Love always takes time, and time is one thing hurried people don’t have.”[iv]
- Sunset Fatigue – When we come home at the end of the day, we’re at the end of our rope. Our emotional tank is empty and we have no fuel left to invest in the people or the projects most in need of our energy.
One of the things that most hinders our ability to lean into Jesus’ vision for the relationships in our lives is the rush of our lives. We simply don’t have time for people. If we wish to experience Jesus’ dream for human connections, hurry must be eliminated at all cost. “Slowing” is the name given to any habit or effort undertaken with this goal in mind. It consists of any intentional effort to reduce speed in order to increase love.
[i] John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted (Zondervan, 1997), 84-88.
[ii] “Survey: Christians Worldwide Too Busy For God,” www.christianpost.com
[iii] Based on Ortberg, 4-88.
[iv] Ortberg, 87.