I was a young minister. I had a few appointments and a few calls to return. I had a lunch meeting scheduled that day. For some reason, in those years, I thought that the busier I was, the more I was accomplishing. Decades later, as I think about my motives for this pace of ministry, this was partially a desire to be effective. I suspect there were also some dark motives related to my ego.
In his fine book, An Unhurried Life (p. 8), Alan Fadling writes:
As I’ve traveled this journey, a few words of counsel have guided me. I remember reading what John Ortberg was told during a season of ministry transition in his life: “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” (John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, p. 81). Connecting ruthlessness and unhurry has always been a fruitful piece of spiritual direction for me. In the Life You’ve Always Wanted (p. 84), Ortberg suggests that “hurry is not just a disordered schedule. Hurry is a disordered heart.” And I agree. When I’m talking about hurried and unhurried, I’m not just talking about miles per hour, I’m talking about the anxious, driven frantic heart.
Far too many of us think that being busy is almost a status symbol. Men and women do this with one another as we communicate again and again just how busy we are. So how do we communicate our busyness to one another?
- The business person who is forever promising his friends that they are going to get together to go to a ball game. Yet, he never takes the initiative beyond this only to say that he is so busy.
- The minister who grouses about going on vacation and coming back to so much e-mail and pink call-back slips. He then says, “These people act like they can’t do without me!”
- The young mother who continues to say “yes” to most every request to help others and rarely says “no” to anything.
Perhaps it would do them good — perhaps it would do all of us good to take a look at our “anxious driven frantic hearts.” Perhaps what we need is to build the discipline of stillness into our habits each day so that our hearts can rest in the Lord instead of desperately trying to move faster and faster.