Applications from “An Unhurried Life” by Alan Fadling
It started as a half joke that one of my staff members, Josh, made in a talk. “There is a book called “An Unhurried Life” that changed my life. Well, the title changed life, because I’ve been too hurried to read it!”
That became a joke among our staff and students. Any time someone was late to a meeting, we gave them a hard time, saying, “So you’re just being unhurried, huh?” But an even funnier thing happened in the culture of our group. We actually began to hurry less! Just being aware of hurry sickness really has impacted my life. I found Alan Fadling’s encouragement to be true, “Hurry rushes toward the destination and fails to enjoy the journey” and that, “hurry squeezes the life out of the present moment.”
I saw difference unhurry was making in our team so much I actually slowed down enough to buy the book! I even sat down in a chair to speed-read it! Just kidding, I read at a normal pace. As I digested the pages, I was simultaneously comforted and convicted.
Jesus himself modeled the unhurried life. He invites us to walk with him rather than run for him.
Alan shared, “I’ve also learned that “making things happen” isn’t as helpful as learning to respond with courage to whatever God is doing. He makes things happen, and I would be wise to choose to work with him. My hurry is what often makes the yoke of life and ministry heavier than Jesus means it to be.”
Have I been busy working FOR God or have I been working WITH God?
It’s far to easy for me to seek to fulfill the COMMISSION of Jesus, make disciples of all nations, with out COMMUNION with Jesus, even though he promised to be with us!
Fadling asked a powerful question for ministry leaders, “Do our conversations about ministry revolve around growing numbers of participants, successful programs or other easily measured outcomes? Or do we tell stories about particular people who are responding to Jesus, stories of seeds of gospel truth sown in people’s hearts that will grow into the fruit of Christlikeness?”
In other words, are we “more oriented toward attracting a crowd or making apprentices of Jesus?”
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to grow or reach more people; it’s about what you celebrate and where you focus your energy. Unhurriedness is not laziness. “I didn’t write this book so that more people will live a life of leisure. That’s not at all the kind of unhurry I’ve had in mind. Instead, I am hungry to be part of a community of men and women who are living more fully and deeply in unhurried communion with Jesus, who are walking with him, serving him and working with him.”
The more unhurried you are, the more effective you will be at what is actually important. “Being unhurried does not at all mean being unresponsive to divine nudges. Being unhurried enables us to notice those nudges and to respond.”
The greatest commands God gave us are to love Him deeply and to love each other sacrificially. We can’t do either effectively without being present with God and present with people. “Living each moment in the light of eternity enables us to remain unhurried and engaged in the work God has for us in the present moment.”
This lifestyle allows for a healthy seasonal rhythm of work and rest. “We tend to see rest as the place we fall into after we’ve worn ourselves out with work. But what if our best work begins from a place of rest?”
Hurry often comes from when we mistakenly “establish our identity through our work rather than realizing that our identity is shaped and strengthened in the place of Sabbath rest and then expressed in our work.”
In other words we “only feel valuable when we are checking something off our to-do list. We therefore struggle to enter into the gift of rest as a good in itself.”
An unhurried person begins to see interruptions as opportunities instead of obstacles. Henri Nouwen said, “My whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I discovered the interruptions were my work.”
I, too, find myself struggling with what Fadling admits to here, “When I’m obsessed with efficiency, love feels like it gets in the way of my reaching that goal.” BUT LOVE IS THE GOAL! Am I slowing down enough to actually see the people God has placed in my life to love? Falding said, “Hurry glances. Love gazes.”
Jesus also modeled regular unhurried prayer. He often withdrew to lonely places to pray early in the morning and late at night. “Perhaps Jesus realized that he needed the soul-rest that comes in communion with his Father even more than he needed physical rest in sleep.” We must learn to unplug long enough for God to speak to us. “A person who is always available is not worth enough when they are available.”
I personally need to get serious about regularly praying for the people in my life and ministry. “One of the single most fruitful activities in which a leader can engage is praying—praying for the people God has entrusted to our care.”
As leaders, we must be patient with people we are helping grow, and we must be patient with ourselves as we seek to grow. “An unhurried vision of growth and maturity brings freedom and encouragement because we have a whole lifetime to grow.”
But we must realize that “Christian maturity is not a matter of doing more for God; it is God doing more in and through us. Immaturity is noisy with anxiety-fueled self-importance. Maturity is quietly content to pursue a life of obedient humility.”
Hurry operates from a mentality of scarcity; unhurry operates from an eternal perspective of abundance. “Every time I say the words “I don’t have time,” I am strengthening the hold that hurry has on me. The reality is that all of us on this planet have the same amount of time day by day, and, in Christ, we have all of eternity.” The truth is that “I have all the time I need for whatever God is giving me to do or inviting me into.”
It would help us to ask ourselves, “How would our pace of life be affected if we fully realized that, as followers of Christ, we are living eternal life now? Since eternal life isn’t just a dim future promise but a vital present reality.”
An eternal perspective is an unhurried perspective. “Eternal life is not so much a matter of mere duration or a guarantee of a pleasant future. Eternal life is an ongoing relationship of mutual love with the One who is Life… Eternal life is unhurried life in relationship with our loving heavenly Father, and my present physical life offers only a glimpse of that forever life.”
Hurry up and get this book so you don’t waste any more time hurrying!