When Hurry Does More Harm Than Good

This morning I read a quote from Margaret A. Miller that got my attention:timenow.jpg

Truth seeking is also arduous. The most insidious form of sloth for me personally is busyness. Busyness impedes the business of truth. Staying too busy at daily professional tasks means not stilling the mind long enough to know what we really think, not thinking things through, not following speculation to its sometimes unwelcome conclusion, not picking at that unsatisfactory sentence until the whole piece comes unraveled.

(cited in The Truth Shall Make You Odd, Frank G. Honeycutt)

I read the entire quote several times and then focused on this single phrase:

“Busyness impedes the business of truth.”

Do you relate to this?

Years ago I was writing a paper for a graduate school class. I don’t recall the particular class or the subject of the paper. However, I do remember I did not start the paper until a week before it was due. This had been a particularly busy semester with numerous research papers assigned.

I did the research and read through some journal articles as well as located sections of several books that were important for writing this paper. I was about halfway through the paper when it occurred to me that I had no idea what I really thought about the subject. Instead, I was feeling the time pressure and, consequently, was rushing through the process.

There is no substitute for taking the time to think.

Like many of you, much of my adult life has been spent with our children. Situations arise. Problems emerge. Words are exchanged. Far too often, I have responded without really thinking through what I was about to say. Often those remarks would lead to clarification later or even trying to retract what I had said earlier.

There is no substitute for taking the time to think, especially regarding things that really matter.

There are some ideas, thoughts, hunches, insights, and inclinations that need to be placed in your mental “crockpot” long before they are written, taught, or preached. Yet, quite often we are so busy and have so much going on that we make comments and take positions long before we have really thought them through. Not everything needs to be preached next Sunday.

When someone asks how long it takes to prepare a sermon, my answer is that it sometimes takes years. Far too many sermons come out of the microwave instead of the crockpot.


What value do you see in giving yourself some time to think through things that really matter?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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8 thoughts on “When Hurry Does More Harm Than Good

  1. Jim — This post really resonated with me. I am a thinker by nature, but when I am busy, my thoughts speed up with me. There’s no substitute for letting an idea or truth settle for a while.

    I linked up with your post over on my blog in a little feature I call There and Back Again. It’s my way of reaching out to other High Calling bloggers and letting the conversation grow. It’s been great getting to know you through your blog this week.


  2. I came over from Charity’s There & Back Again project to enjoy your thought-full post! 😉 So glad to discover you’re part of TheHighCalling.org community/network.

    I actually wrote a book about slowing down in this fast-paced world, and the book was way too long when I submitted the draft. My editor made me cut out an entire chapter to save space. Do you know what that chapter was about? It was about living “too fast to think.” Just as you explored in this blog post, sometimes we live too fast to fully process ideas, concepts and truth. And of course it’s a great irony that the chapter on the need to think more slowly and deeply was the deleted chapter.

    This is an important topic. Perhaps you, Charity, and I should ponder this more and post a three-way dialogue somehow?

    • Ann, thanks for this comment. Thanks for sharing the irony. Perhaps I appreciate it because I have had similar things happen which served to remind me of the very things that I have been telling others.

      I am interested in the dialogue. Let me know how this might work in terms of format, etc.

  3. My initial impulse was to respond, “I’ll have to think about this for a while.”

    Taking time to think is important. I often regret my gut responses or classes put together too quickly. So one value is not having to go back and correct or clarify later.

    I feel for the preachers who have so much loaded on them by their churches, that time to sit and think is rare or non-existent. I feel that a bit too in my job, where the requirements (things I am measured by and compensated on the basis of)crowd out time to simply reflect.

    I will probably later regret not thinking through this response more carefully.

    • Phillip,
      Great to hear from you.

      Do I relate to your second paragraph! Nothing frustrates me more than to teach a class and to realize about half way through the class period that I am not prepared to discuss an important point or two. Later on, I sometimes think, “If I could do that class again, I would have stressed this or that more than I did.”

      In particular, Phillip, I feel for younger preachers who have so much on them and yet they have no accumulated study upon which to draw. For example, I might be preaching a series from Galatians. The year before I might have done a class on Romans or s short series from Romans. That reservoir helps. For younger ministers, every series is a first. That really is tough. (Not telling you anything you don’t know, I’m just voicing this.)

      Thanks so much, Phillip. I am grateful for good teachers like yourself.

    • Thanks Karen. Isn’t that a great quote?

      I like your comment. “The louder the background noise the less the comprehension.” Very good.