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The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer

How to stay emotionally healthy and spiritually alive in the chaos of the modern world

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” — Jesus

Hurry involved excessive haste or a state of urgency. A state of frantic effort one falls into a response to inadequacy, fear, and guilt.

The ability to do calmly and effectively — with strength and joy — that which really matters.

We should take it as our aim to live our lives entirely without hurry. We should form a clear intention to live without hurry. One day at a time. Trying today.

Begin to eliminate things you “have” to do.

The life we are intended to live must be lived in time. And we are so used to spiritually mediocre days — days lived in irritation and fear and self-preoccupation and frenzy — that we throw our lives away in a hurry.

Take a deep breath. Put your cell phone away. Let your heart slow down. Let God take care of the world.

Prologue: Autobiography of an epidemic

My dream is to slow down, simplify my life around abiding. Walk to work. I want to reset the metrics for success.

Let them talk; I have new metrics now.

What if all you had to do was slow down long enough for the merry-go-round blur of life to come into focus?

What if the secret to the life we crave is actually “easy”?

Part One: The Problem

Hurry: the great enemy of spiritual life

You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.

Hurry is the root problem underneath so many of the symptoms of toxicity in our world.

If the devil can’t make you sin, he’ll make you busy.

Sin and busyness have the same effect — they cut off your connection to God, to other people, and even your own soul.

“Hurry is not of the devil; hurry is the devil.” — Carl Jung

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul… and with all your strength. Love your neighbor as yourself.”

If there’s a secret to happiness, it’s simple — presence to the moment. The more present we are to the now, the more joy we tap into.

Hurry keeps us from the love, joy, and peace of the kingdom of God.

A brief history of speed

Before Thomas Edison the average person slept eleven hours a night.

A century ago the less you worked, the more status you had. Now it’s flipped: the more you sit around and relax, the less status you have.

In 2007, none of us had smartphones or wifi access.

“The net is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation” — Nicholas Carr in The Shallows

The average iPhone user touches his or her phone 2,617 times a day.

Just being in the same room as our phones will reduce someone’s working memory and problem-solving skills.

Slot machines make more money than the film industry and baseball combined, even though they only take a few quarters at a time because slot machines are addictive and those small amounts of money feel inconsequential.

The thought process of Facebook is “how do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?”

Attention economy: a company can get your money, if and only if, they can get your attention.

Something is deeply wrong

We don’t know what we need in order to restore life’s balance.

Hurry sickness: a behavior pattern characterized by continual rushing and anxiousness or a malaise in which a person feels chronically short of time, and do tends to perform every task faster and to get flustered when encountering any kind of delay.

Hurry is a form of violence on the soul.

10 symptoms of hurry sickness.

  1. Irritability: you get mad, frustrated, or just annoyed way too easily
  2. Hypersensitivity: all it takes is a minor comment to hurt your feelings or a little turn of events to throw you into an emotional funk and ruin your day
  3. Restlessness: when you actually do try to slow down and rest, you can’t relax
  4. Workaholism: you just don’t know when to stop. Or worse, you can’t stop
  5. Emotional numbness: you don’t have the capacity to feel another’s pain
  6. Out-of-order priorities: you feel disconnected from your identity and calling. You’re always getting sucked into the tyranny of the urgent, not the important
  7. Lack of care for your body: you don’t have time for the basics: eight hours of sleep a night, daily exercise, healthy, home-cooked good, minimal stimulants, margin
  8. Escapist behaviors: when we’re too tired to do what’s actually life-giving for our souls, we each turn to our distraction of choice: overeating, overdrinking, binge-watching Netflix, browsing social media, surfing the web, looking at porn — name your preferred cultural narcotic
  9. Slippage of spiritual disciplines: quiet time in the morning, scripture, prayer, sabbath, worship on Sunday, a meal with your community, and so on
  10. Isolation: you feel disconnected from God, others, and your own soul

Just because everyone is doing it doesn’t make it smart.

Hurry kills relationships. Love takes time; hurry doesn’t have it.

Hurry kills joy, gratitude, and appreciation; people in a rush don’t have time to enter the goodness of a moment.

Hurry kills wisdom; wisdom is born in the quiet, the slow.

Hurry kills all that we hold dear: spirituality, health, marriage, family, thoughtful work, creativity, generosity… name your value.

The third treasure beside time and money is attention because attention leads to awareness.

We are missing our awareness of God I’d everything.

What you give your attention to is the person you become.

The mind is the portal to the soul and what you full your mind with will shape the trajectory of your character.

Part Two: The Solution

Hint: the solution isn’t more time

The secret is to slow down and simply our lives around what really matters.

You can’t do it all.

We are limited by:

  1. Our bodies
  2. Our minds

The mind is much like a muscle, and we can exercise it to its full potential, but we still won’t know everything.

3. Our giftings

Comparison eats away at our joy.

Whatever your thing is, there will always be someone better than you at it.

4. Our personalities and emotional wiring

5. Our families of origin

None of us start with a blank slate.

6. Our socioeconomic origins

7. Our education and careers

8. Our seasons of life and responsibilities

Every relationship costs you.

9. The length of our life

80 or so years.

10. Gods call on our lives

Life is a series of choices. Every yes is a thousand nos.

We have to learn to say no, constantly.

“No is a complete sentence” — Anne Lamott

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. Do you ever catch yourself with the sneaking suspicion that you’ll wake up on your deathbed with this nagging sense that somehow, in all the hurry and busyness and frenetic activity, you missed the most important things?” — Henry David Thoreau

How we spend our time is how we spend our lives. It’s who we become (or don’t become).

We have all the time we need. The scary part is we are too addicted, too weak, too distracted to do what we all know is important.

Every day is a chance. Every hour is an opportunity. Every moment is a precious gift.

The secret of the easy yoke

The whole point of apprenticeship is to model all of your life after someone.

If the results you are getting are lousy then the odds are very good that something about the system that is your life is off kilter.

What we’re really talking about is a rule of life

Jesus was rarely in a hurry.

The rootedness in the moment and connectedness to God, other people, and himself weren’t the by-products of a laid-back personality or pre-wifi world; they were the outgrowths of a way of life.

Margin is the space between our load and our limits.

Free of all the discontent and distraction that comes from too much money and stuff we don’t need.

An unhurried life, where space for gif and love for people were top priorities, and because he said yes to father and his kingdom, he constantly said no to countless other invitations.

He would slow way down.

We achieve inner peace when our schedule is aligned with our values.

Intermission: Wait, what are the spiritual disciplines again?

A discipline is any activity I can do by direct effort that will eventually enable me to do that which, currently, I cannot do by direct effort.

The disciplines are activities of mind and body purposefully undertaken, to bring our personality and total being into effective cooperation with the divine order.

Part three: Four practices for unhurrying your life

Silence and solitude

What you really need is time alone. But to do that, we need to get away from all the noise and people.

Jesus needed time in the quiet place.

There are two dimensions of silence — external and internal.

External silence is pretty self-explanatory: no noise.

Entering silence is entering into joy.

Could it be that we’re using external noise to drown out internal noise?

You have to silence both.

Solitude is when you’re alone, with God and with your own soul.

Solitude is engagement; isolation is escape.

Solitude is when you set aside time to feed and water and nourish your soul.

“Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life… we do not take the spiritual life seriously if we do not set aside some time to be with God and listen to him.” — Henri Nouwen

“To a child, love is spelled T-I-ME.”

“When you spend one hour a day adoring your Lord and never do anything which you know is wrong… you will be fine!”- Mother Teresa

Don’t do anything you know is wrong.

Emotional unhealth sets in. We start living from the surface of our lives, not the core. We’re reactionary. The smallest thing is a trigger.

Mindfulness is simply silence and solitude.


If at any point desire is no longer under our control and is instead driving our lives, we’re in trouble.

Desire is never, ever satisfied.

Infinite desire — finite soul = restlessness.

The sabbath is simply a day to stop: stop working, stop wanting, stop worrying, just stop.

“So much of our unhappiness comes from comparing our lives, our friendships, our loved, our commitments, our duties, our bodies and our sexuality to some idealized and non-Christian vision of things which falsely assured us that there is a heaven on earth.” — Ronald Rolheiser

True restfulness is a form of awareness, a way of being in life. It is living ordinary life with a sense of ease, gratitude, appreciation, peace, and prayer. We are restful when ordinary life is enough.


Be on guard against all kinds of greed; life does not exist in an abundance of possessions.

Advertising is propaganda.

We only actually need food and clothing.

The most important things in life aren’t things at all; they are relationships with family, friends, and, above all, God.

Every single thing you buy costs you not only money but also time.

Less time means more hurry.

Most of us simply have too much stuff to enjoy life at a healthy, unhurried pace.

Instead of spending money to get time, we opted for the reverse: we spent time to get money.

It’s more blessed to give than to receive.

You cannot serve both God and money.

Do not worry about your life.

Minimalism isn’t about living with nothing, it’s about living with less.

Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from them.

“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand… why should we live with such hurry and waste of life?” — Henry David Thoreau

The goal isn’t just to de-clutter your closet or garage but to de-clutter 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.

If you make 25k a year or more you are in the top 10 percent of the worlds wealth. If you make 34k a year or more, you’re in the top 1 percent.

Do good, be rich in good deeds, and be generous and willing to share.

  1. Before you buy something, ask yourself, what is the true cost of this item?
  2. Before you buy, ask yourself, by buying this, am I oppressing the poor or harming the earth?
  3. Never impulse buy
  4. When you do buy, opt for fewer, better things
  5. When you can, share
  6. Get into the habit of giving things away
  7. Live by a budget
  8. Learn to enjoy things without owning them
  9. Cultivate a deep appreciation for creation
  10. Cultivate a deep appreciation for the simple pleasures
  11. Recognize advertising for what it is — propaganda. Call out the lie
  12. Lead a cheerful, happy revolt against the spirit of materialism

What would Jesus do if he were me?


Anti-rule and anti-schedule people frequently live in a way that is reactive, not proactive.

  1. Drive the speed limit
  2. Get into the slow lane
  3. Come to a full stop at stop signs
  4. Don’t text and drive
  5. Show up ten minutes early for an appointment, sans phone
  6. Get in the longest checkout line at the grocery store
  7. Turn your smartphone into a dumbphone
  8. Get a flip phone. Or ditch your cell phone all together
  9. Parent your phone; put it to bed before you and make it sleep in
  10. Keep your phone off until after your morning quiet time
  11. Set times for email
  12. Set a time and a time limit for social media (or just get off it)
  13. Kill your TV

Our time is our life, and our attention of the doorway to our hearts.

14. Single-task

15. Walk slower

Where in the world am I trying to get to so fast? We literally have no place to be.

Force yourself to move through the world at a relaxed pace.

16. Take a regular day alone for silence and solitude

17. Take up journaling

The unexamined life is not worth living.

18. Experiment with mindfulness and meditation

Focus on your breath.

Breath in love, breath out anger. Breath in joy, breath out sadness and pain. Breath in peace, breath out the anxiety and uncertainty of tomorrow.

Persons who meditate become people of substance who have thought things out and have deep convictions, who can explain difficult concepts in simple language, and who have good reasons behind everything they do.

19. If you can, take long vacations

Happiness peaks on day 8 of a vacation.

20. Cook your own food and eat in

Epilogue: A quiet life

“At this point in my life, I’m just trying to not miss the goodness of each day, and bring my best self to it.”

Three life goals

  1. Slow down
  2. Simplify my life around the practices of Jesus
  3. Live from a center of abiding

It takes practice to live from attention and awareness.

The end isn’t silence and solitude; it’s to come back to God and our true selves.

The goal is practice, not perfection.

Slow down. Breathe. Come back to the moment. Receive the good as gift. Accept the hard as a pathway to peace. Abide.

Happiness isn’t the result of circumstances but of character and communion.

When you err, just begin again.

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life.

“Try to keep your soul always in peace and quiet.” — Saint Ignatius of Loyola

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