When Hurry Becomes a Lifestyle
by Rolland E. Daniels, Ed.D.
Balance is a critical component to life. Balance is not only necessary within the confines of our physical bodies, but this balancing act must also be prevalent in our mental, emotional and spiritual aspects as well. That is why we hear so much in advertising today about leading a healthy, balanced life.
For many of us, this notion of a balanced life seems unreachable. Most of us have too many activities, too many choices, too many decisions, too many commitments, too many expectations, too much change for balance to be a part, much less a productive part, of our lives. We would love to adhere to a semi-balanced, almost balanced or somewhat balanced rhythm of life. In fact, the word “hurry” has, for many of us, become the definition of how we live.
To be honest, most of the time we remain busy for good reasons. Remember the saying, “Busy people get things done.” It’s true. I tell folks all the time that I don’t meet many people who aren’t busy. The reason is because most of us desire to be effective in some important areas of life. We want to be a great spouse, a caring parent, faithful follower of Jesus, successful in our jobs and we also want to be healthy people. Add up all these desires and it equals hurried people.
The story is told of a mother of three taking each child to different evening activities. To make it on time, she went the fast-food route and took advantage of the drive-through. She received her order, drove a 1/4 mile down the road, only to discover she had been given the wrong order. She turned around and again drove through the drive-through. The attendant opened the window, the lady handed her the bag and said, “We received the wrong order, please give us the right one.” The attendant observed the bag and said, “Ma’am, I would love to help, but you have a McDonalds bag and this is Wendy’s.” Hurried lives often do not pay off!
But here’s the caution when hurry becomes our lifestyle. Hurried people have a great tendency to become unbalanced people. When our lives become unbalanced, we experience the same symptoms we do when some physical imbalance happens within our bodies. We are more susceptible to brokenness, illness and pain. The critical question for us is how do we know when overextended hurry has become our lifestyle? How do we recognize that point in our lives where there is no more margin left, and we have gone beyond a healthy limit? Luke 10:38-42 is a passage that illustrates many of these traits.
“As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” 41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
We know that we have come to dangerous unbalance when three traits begin to drive our lifestyles. First, we become driven by busyness. If we are not busy, we are not happy. If we are not busy, we feel lazy. If we are not busy, we feel guilty. In fact, we receive our strokes from our sense of busyness. One of the highlights of our day is letting other people know how busy we are.
This lifestyle is concerning, because as Gordon MacDonald (1985) states, “A rest-less work style produces a restless person.” We are so restless we create commotion that causes four dysfunctions to take up residence within our lives.
1. Noisiness – We don’t know what to do with silence, we are uncomfortable with quiet.
2. Inappropriate expectations – We never do enough. We place unreal expectations on ourselves and very seldom feel inner satisfaction and contentment.
3. Lack of peace – We do not experience rest and peace. There is an inner angst. We make other people feel guilty if they rest, because misery loves company.
Martha came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
We want others to share our guilt and discontentment.
4. Preoccupied – We live in a preoccupied state; even in the simplest of tasks. We talk with people; but in truth, we are at another place mentally, preoccupied with the next deal, the next appointment, the next conversation or the next task at hand. It’s such a preoccupied state; we don’t even realize the disrespect we are showing. Hurried people can be home, but not really present.
“My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!”
Secondly, hurried people phase God in and out of their lives. In fact, we phase God in only as He fits into our overly important agendas and calendars.
“Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing.”
Mostly, like Martha, we phase God out because times of prayer, reflection and worship, do not warrant cutting into our busy time. Amazing how easily we can put our relationship with Jesus on the sideline. Somehow, our agenda-focused game plan does not include the One who should be leading our team.
Third, overextended people always hover around burn-out. The reality for hurried people is this: We are always ON. But, God did not make you or me to function that way. God created us to be Sabbath-needy people. This was not by chance. Our bodies, minds and spirits need times of replenishment. Please understand, the ramifications of an overextended life are this:
- The engine will finally run out of gas
- The well will ultimately run dry
- The battery will gradually run down
- The rubber band will ultimately snap
Ellen, my incredible wife, has many strengths and very few weaknesses. One weakness is that she is directionally-challenged. One of my favorite things to do is walk out of a mall with her and not mention where we parked. She will pause, look around, and then after a moment of hesitation a smile will ultimately cross her face as she asks which way to go. It is worth everything we bought in that store! Recently on a vacation, we rented bicycles. Ellen said, “Why don’t we ride to this state park? It shows on the map it’s only a little way, there and back.” Now, a “little way” on a map can be a long way in reality.
Twenty-four miles later we returned from our little excursion! The first 12 miles were not so bad. What we didn’t realize was that we were riding with a 15-20 mph wind at our backs. But, when we turned and rode into that same wind on that 90+ degree day, it was a much different story. Let’s just say there wasn’t much talking going on as we peddled our way back. Every ounce of energy was needed for the task at hand! The next day, we were exhausted. The energy we extended on one day took its toll on the next. It is the same in our lives. If we live life constantly stretched to the maximum, we will ultimately break down. Brokenness has a tendency to overflow into our relationships; both human and spiritual.
Swenson (1992) writes, “Balance is necessary and attainable. It is not easy, but it is possible. What we must understand is that we are finite, we are not infinite. We do have limitations and we do need boundaries. Please hear me, God expects us to use our gifts and abilities to perform well in many areas of our lives, but He also gave us limits and built inside us the necessity of balance.”
But how do we overcome hurried lives? What do we need to do to become more balanced and healthy? How do we become more proactive in our pursuit of a healthy, balanced life? I believe the answer begins by allowing Psalm 46:10 to become a main stay in your life.
“Be still and know that I am God.”
Note, there are two directives in this short verse. The first is to cultivate stillness into our lives. It’s almost humorous isn’t it; that we have to work to build a state of nothing into our lives? For hurried people, stillness goes against every natural inclination. However, in the Hebrew this word “still” is not nothing. It is an act of reverence. It is a recognition that we need to build a pattern of God into our lives. The word can be translated to mean to “cease and desist.” It means to leave the fray and stop, to be silent and absolutely still.
“We need to find God and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness.”
In this act of stillness is the notion of a ship coming out of the storm into the safety of a port; a place to be refueled and replenished. It is the opportunity to remove one’s self from the constant buffeting of the waves. Rest assured, we, like the ship, will spend more time at sea than we do at port. But, we must realize that to accomplish our ultimate destination and journey we must make both time and a place to be replenished and refueled.
This is also a second directive in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”
The word “know” means to have a personal moment of personal recognition for Whom it is we build stillness. It is Yahweh who is indeed our refuge, our strength and our fortress in times of weariness and struggle. It is the God who replenishes us, restores us and renews us for the journey. However, the only way for us to receive that replenishment, renewal and restoration is to make time for Him to speak and pour His living water into us.
“He who orders his inner spiritual world will make a place for God to visit and speak.”
Gordon MacDonald (1985)
This happens when a person comes to the place of recognition that Jesus has to be at the center. We have to create a pattern and rhythm within our lives where Jesus is going to have the opportunity to speak into us and pour into us His life giving power. In Acts 17:28, Paul writes these words concerning the centrality of Jesus in a believer’s life, “For in him we live and move and have our being.”
A balanced life is dependent on us learning that Jesus is at the center of who and what we are. It is He who restores and replenishes us for the journey of life. Our wholeness and balance is dependent on building those sacred moments into our lives; not phasing God in and out. What place and space are we building in our lives for God to visit and speak? What pattern of God have we formed? Truth is, unless we are intentionally carving that place out, we are missing those moments and, in essence, missing God. It is hard to be balanced without knowing the One who balances you.
Remember: “Be still and know that I am God.”
MacDonald, G. (1985), Ordering Your Private World. Nashville, TN, Thomas Nelson, Inc., pp. 123 & 196.
Swenson, R. A. (1992, 2004), Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, Revised. Colorado Springs, CO, NavPress, p. 223.
In more than 30 years of ministry, Rolland Daniels has pastored congregations large and small, worked for national organizations, and been a coach and mentor to many young leaders. His new book, Church in the Middle, identifies the challenges facing all churches, provides tools to assess the present practices of your church and helps create and implement new ways for your church to build relationships with your community.
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