Ruthlessly Eliminate Hurry

The phrase, “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry,” has been nagging me from time to time ever since I read it several years ago (John Ortberg wrote about it in 2002 in an article at; the follow-up article is worth reading, too). BTW, I briefly mentioned this phrase and the article it comes from in a post from my Life Realignment series last September, specifically the one on Rest.

As Ortberg tells the story, he called a wise friend to ask for advice on staying spiritually healthy after moving to the Chicago area to be on staff at Willow Creek (he’s now senior pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church). After a long pause, John’s friend replied …

You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.

After another pause, John finally says, “Okay, I’ve written that one down. That’s a good one. Now what else is there?” John’s friend said …

There is nothing else. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.

Eliminating hurry is not easy to do today, especially with all of the “modern conveniences.” These modern conveniences were supposed to make things easier, to free up some of our time, to give us more leisure time. Instead, we use the extra time to do more stuff!

There are particular challenges for us as pastors. We’re both Type-A people. We’re both mission-driven. As Christ-following leaders, we’re driven to be faithful to God, to honor God by being fruitful in ministry. One of the reasons I’m interested in systems and methods (as I’ve blogged about in the past) is that I want to make the most of my time, to get the most bang for the buck.

Having one pastor in the house would be crazy enough, but we have two, doubling (or multiplying!) the craziness. Our schedules are anything but ordinary or routine. If we wanted to, we could work from the time we get up early in the morning until after we put Ethan to bed at night (and sometimes we do) and we could do that six or seven days a week.

The nature of our work is that our days don’t easily follow a standard routine. We’re constantly juggling our schedule (including our time with Ethan) to work around an ever-changing schedule (i.e., every week looks different).

We share online (Google) calendars to coordinate the activities in our lives and ministries. It’s not uncommon for one or both of us to have meetings 2 or 3 (we try to avoid more than that) nights a week, but we try to keep those from being on the same night (at the moment, we have one meeting each month that falls on the same night).

And now, we have a young child in the house, adding a new layer to the craziness. Read one pastor’s take on Raising Your Kids in the Fishbowl.

From the beginning, we’ve tried to prioritize family. A week after returning from Korea, during our parental leaves, we reflected on a book called Choosing to Cheat (see Choosing to Cheat 1.0 and Choosing to Cheat 2.0). The basic idea is that none of us can do everything we think we should be doing or that others think we should be doing; therefore, we have to make choices about what’s most important to us. IOW, we have to draw a line somewhere. Too often, it’s the family that gets cheated in the process. But all of us must guard against cheating our families!

Even though we’ve tried to be intentional, it’s still very, very hard work (and certainly there’s room for improvement!). But we are doing, and will continue to do, our best to prioritize our family!

Is hurry a problem in your life/home? What are you doing to eliminate hurry from your life? According to John Ortberg’s friend, your (and our) spiritual health depends on it!

2 thoughts on “Ruthlessly Eliminate Hurry”

  1. Funny, I just noticed the note I have pinned to my cubicle wall the other day that says this very thing, inspired by my reading of Ortberg’s The Life You’ve Always Wanted. Ruthlessly eliminate hurry. It was mostly covered up by some other papers I’d pinned up on my wall, no doubt in a big huge hurry one day.

  2. That’s a great story, Lyla.

    BTW, Ortberg is one of those writers I need to read everything they write. I especially love “If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat” and “Everybody’s Normal Until You Get to Know them” (he has great titles!).


Add a Comment