In our fast-paced, get-it-done-now culture, the fact is that almost everyone on your team could use some help in increasing their personal productivity. This pace has only been accelerating because ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The very nature of ministry often makes the “I’ve gotten something done today” feeling elusive. For many church leaders, there are no edges to their work – it’s not easy to tell when the work is finished, because it really never is. Most of your team have at least half a dozen things they are trying to achieve right now – today! And a pastoral need could arise at any moment to make that to-do list completely irrelevant.
Is it possible that our productivity could actually be increased by first slowing down?
The Quick Summary – The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer
“Who am I becoming?”
That was the question nagging pastor and author John Mark Comer. Outwardly, he appeared successful. But inwardly, things weren’t pretty. So he turned to a trusted mentor for guidance and heard these words:
“Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life. Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life.”
It wasn’t the response he expected, but it was—and continues to be—the answer he needs. Too often we treat the symptoms of toxicity in our modern world instead of trying to pinpoint the cause. A growing number of voices are pointing at hurry, or busyness, as a root of much evil.
Within the pages of this book, you’ll find a fascinating roadmap to staying emotionally healthy and spiritually alive in the chaos of the modern world.
A SIMPLE SOLUTION
According to author John Mark Comer, the new normal of hurried digital distraction is robbing us of the ability to be present:
- Present to God.
- Present to other people.
- Present to all that is good, beautiful, and true in our world.
- Even present to our own souls.
The noise of the modern world makes us deaf to the voice of God, drowning out the one input we most need.
Whatever you call them: habits, practices, or spiritual disciplines are how we follow Jesus. How we adopt His lifestyle. How we create space for emotional health and spiritual life.John Mark Comer
And like all habits, they are a means to an end. The end is life to the full with Jesus. The end is to spend every waking moment in the conscious enjoyment of Jesus’ company, to spend our entire lives with the most loving, joyful, peaceful person to ever live.
Silence and solitude
Here’s to tomorrow morning, six o’clock. Coffee, the chair by the window, the window by the tree. Time to breathe. A psalm and story from the Gospels. Hearing the Father’s voice. Pouring out my own. Or just sitting, resting. Maybe I’ll hear a word from God that will alter my destiny; maybe I’ll just process my anger over something that’s bothering me. Maybe I’ll feel my mind settle like untouched water; maybe my mind will ricochet from thought to thought, and never come to rest. If so, that’s fine. I’ll be back, same time tomorrow. Starting my day in the quiet place.
If your story is anything like mine, Sabbath will take you a little while to master. After all, Shabbat is a verb. It’s something you do. A practice, a skill you hone. To begin, just set aside a day. Clear your schedule. Turn off your phone! Say a prayer to invite the Holy Spirit to pastor you into His presence. And then? Rest and worship. In whatever way is life giving for your soul. And something happens about halfway through the day, something hard to put language to. It’s like my should catches up to my body. Like some deep part of me that got beat up and drowned out by meetings and email and Twitter and relational conflict and the difficulty of life comes back to the surface of my heat. I feel free. And at the end of the day when I turn my phone back on and reenter the modern world, I do so slowly. And, wow, does that ever feel good.
The goal isn’t just to declutter your closet or garage but to declutter your life. To clear away the myriad of distractions that ratchet up our anxiety, feed us an endless stream of mind-numbing drivel, and anesthetize us to what really matters. To follow Jesus, especially in the Western world, is to live in that same tension between grateful, happy enjoyment of nice, beautiful things, and simplicity. And when to err on the side of generous, simple living. The truth is you can be happy right here, right now, “through Christ who strengthens me,” meaning through investing your resources in ongoing relational connections to Jesus. Right now you have everything you need to live a happy, content life; you have access to the Father. To His loving attention.
The basic idea behind the practice of slowing is this: slow down your body, slow down your life. If we can slow down both our minds and bodies – the pace at which we think and the pace at which we move our bodies through the world – maybe we can slow down our souls to a pace at which they can “taste and see the the Lord is good.” John Ortberg and Richard Foster both label this emerging practice the spiritual discipline of “slowing.” Ortberg defined it as “cultivating patience by deliberately choosing to place ourselves in positions where we have to wait. There’s more to life than an increase in speed. Life is right under our noses, waiting to be enjoyed.
John Mark Comer, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry
A NEXT STEP
John Mark Comer believes that unlike other types of habits, the practices of Jesus aren’t just exercises for your mind and body to grow their willpower muscle and cultivate character. They are far more: they are how we open our minds and bodies to a power far beyond our own and effect change.
The four disciplines listed above may seem like a strange way to become more productive, but in the sugar-rush of the busy lives we are leading, slowing down will actually help you become better at what you do.
For excellent guidance on these disciplines, be sure to download the author’s workbook to accompany his book.
Toward which of the four disciplines are you feeling led by the Holy Spirit? What is one step to take today?
Part of a regular series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader
During my elementary school years one of the things I looked forward to the most was the delivery of “My Weekly Reader,” a weekly educational magazine designed for children and containing news-based, current events.
It became a regular part of my love for reading, and helped develop my curiosity about the world around us.
Along with early and ongoing encouragement from my parents – especially my father – reading was established as a passion in my life that I was happy to continually learn from, share with my children, and watch them share with their children.
Reading keeps our minds alive and growing.