I was sent this book by a colleague after she learned I was actively trying to improve my stress management abilities.
As part of my 2021 Growth Plan – this book was on the list to help me take a faith based approach to calming my brain and being more intentional with how I relax.
I am grateful for the thought and gift and got a lot out of “The Ruthless Elimination Of Hurry” by John Mark Comer.
If I am to be completely honest, this book should have been 100-125 pages less and skipped a lot of the sidebar type comments. I understand it’s a popular style of writing but often felt like 10 pages would go by and the same point was being made over and over again.
With that said, the author does a very good job of bringing faith-based practices into secular context for all to understand and relate to. The author lives close to me in Portland Oregon and preaches at Bridgetown Church. It would be exceptional to meet him in person someday.
10 Symptoms Of Too Much “Hurry”
- Workaholism (or just non-stop activity)
- Emotional numbness
- Out-of-order priorities
- Lack of care for your body
- Escapist behaviors
- Slippage of spiritual disciplines
I can point to several moments in my life where “stress” or “hurry” have left me feeling all of these symptoms. One of the quotes I highlighted involves the thinking that our attention leads to awareness. The author says
“Meaning, in the chronic problem of human beings’ felt experience of distance from God, God isn’t usually the culprit. God is omnipresent – there is no place God is not. And no time he isn’t present either. Our awareness of God is the problem, and it’s acute.”pg. 54
“Put another way: the mind is the portal to the soul, and what you fill your mind with will shape the trajectory of your character. In the end, your life is no more than the sum of what you gave your attention to.”pg. 55
Comer goes on to explain the solution to a life that is stressful, full of activities, distraction and hurry is to align with 4 spiritual disciplines.
Before he talks about each and how to apply them he gives context with a Bible verse (Matthew 11) that is used throughout the 4 disciplines.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30
The author does a fantastic job of breaking down this verse and applying the core concept to our current reality/lives. He basically suggests that Jesus was sent here to show us the “way” to live our lives. Everything Jesus did was to lead by example and provide a framework for us to follow.
If we take this to heart, we can have a life that is less burdensome and shared with Jesus.
The 4 Spiritual Disciplines
Before I list them out, it’s important to define what a spiritual discipline is. Dallas Willard defines them as,
“The disciplines are activities of mind and body purposefully undertaken, to bring our personality and total being into effective cooperation with the divine order. They enable us more and more to live in a power that is, strictly speaking, beyond us, deriving from the spiritual realm itself.”
#1 – Silence & Solitude
For the secular world this is mindfulness and meditation. It’s the practice and skill of quieting your mind to focus and relax. In the context of this book it’s quiet time with Jesus and the Bible. One of the most compelling reasons to practice this spiritual discipline was the correlation Comer made whenever Jesus performed a bunch of miracles he would disappear into the desert. Why? For silence and solitude to recharge for what he had to do next.
Jesus sets a tremendous example here of doing things no human can do but still needing to rest and recharge. I took this as a great challenge for myself to find time for more silence and solitude.
#2 – Sabbath
This chapter was an excellent reminder of why God created the Sabbath and how it important it is to follow it. Comer paints this day in a way I’d never heard or thought of and gives some practical examples of how to Sabbath in the 21st century.
The Sabbath should be a day of rest that we look forward to every week. It’s a forcing function to slow down, enjoy time with family and the outdoors and all that God has created. We should intentionally look for opportunities to find silence and solitude and be comfortable resting from the hurry of our weekly lives.
#3 – Simplicity
This chapter was an excellent reminder of what the Bible has to say about the accumulation of worldly possessions. There are numerous verses used throughout the text to remind us that our happiness should be derived from the things we buy and want while on Earth.
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain…Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
Here is a list of ways to combat the accumulation heavy society we live in.
- Before you buy something, ask what is the true cost of this item?
- Before you buy, ask yourself, by buying this, am I oppressing the poor or harming the earth?
- Never impulse buy
- When you do buy, opt for fewer, better things
- Get into the habit of giving things away
- When you can share
- Live by a budget
- Learn to enjoy things without owning them
- Cultivate a deep appreciation for the creation
- Cultivate a deep appreciation for the simple pleasures
- Recognize advertising for what it is – propaganda. Call out the lie
- Lead a cheerful, happy revolt against the spirit of materialism
#4 – Slowing
This chapter is about creating rules for your life that intentionally slow you down. By slowing down you can be more intentional and clear on how to practice the 3 other disciplines. Comer gives a list of some rules he has created for his life as a starting point for us. Some of these may work for you and you can pick and choose as you see fit.
- Drive the speed limit
- Get into the slow lane
- Come to a full stop at a stop sign
- Don’t text and drive
- Show up 10 minutes early to an appointment without your phone
- Get in the longest checkout line at the grocery store
- Turn your smartphone into a dumbphone (turn off all apps, notifications, etc so it only texts/calls)
- Get a flip phone or ditch your cell phone altogether
- Parent your phone; put it to bed before you and make it sleep in
- Keep your phone off until after your morning quiet time
- Set times for email
- Set time limits for social media (or just get off it completely)
- Kill your TV
- Focus on a single-task – reject the idea of multitasking as a good thing
- Walk slower
- Take a day off for silence and solitude.
- Experiment with mindfulness and meditation
- If you can – take long vacations
- Cook your own food and eat it
- Take up journaling