How to Get the Urgent Off Your Back


These are Dallas's notes for a 1994 workshop with some of his earliest teaching on the subject of Hurry.


Texts from Isaiah on the beautiful life in God:
Isaiah 25:3-4, 28:16, 29:15, 35:10, 40:31

What is hurry?

Dictionaries use phrases such as “excessive haste,” “a recurrent agitation of sound,” “a state of eagerness or urgency.” In its verb form: “to carry or cause to go with haste,” “to impel to greater speed, or prod,” “to perform with undue haste.” “Hurry” is associated with words such as “hurl,” “hurry-skurry,” “hurdle,” “hurly-burly” [meaning uproar or tumult], “hurrah” and “hurricane.” You can almost feel it!

I would say hurry is a state of frantic effort one falls into in response to inadequacy, fear, and guilt.

We should take as our aim to live our lives entirely without hurry. The peace and joy and strength which God intended for human life, the well-being and health of mind and body, is inconsistent with living in a hurry. (Of course, occasional bouts of hurry may be reasonable in such a world as this. But chronic hurry is not.)

The simple essence of hurry is: TOO MUCH TO DO!

The good of avoiding hurry is not just pleasure, but to enable us to calmly and effectively do the things that are truly important with strength and joy.

To get the urgent off our backs we must:

  1. Form a clear intention to live without hurry.
    Try one day.
  1. Cultivate a mental picture of your place in the world before God: What is God doing and where do you fit in?
    Write it Down.

On the basis of that:

  1. Begin to eliminate things you ‘have’ to do.
    Don’t be afraid of “doing nothing.”
    Plan to have such times.
  1. Deal honestly with why you have a hard time saying “no.” Is it because you are unclear about your purpose in life?
    And are really just drifting?
    No matter your position?
    Or is it because you are fearful of rejection?
    A “man pleaser”?
    Or fear that others may outshine you?
  1. Deal with the panic of not being busy. This is a habit, as are most of the feelings that dominate human choices. Allow your self to be in the panic, feel it roll over you, and not go for the fix. Adrenalin addiction is real!
  1. Develop a realistic, whole-life plan of spiritual disciplines.

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