A deadly spiritual virus is infecting our society. Every day this virus destroys relationships, and contributes to the downfall of countless individuals. The name of this deadly virus? Hurry Sickness!
Consider these three questions to see if you are suffering from this virus that plagues so many pastors and church leaders:
- When you choose a line at the grocery store or the gas station, do you ever look at where you would have been had you selected another line?
- Do you ever become irritated when stuck in traffic? (And utter words unbecoming of a clergyperson?)
- Do you ever become frustrated when people don’t respond to texts, emails, tweets or phone calls within the hour?
If you answered yes to two out of three questions … you may be sicker than you thought!
Hurry Sickness (also known by its Latin name “Instantitis”) is rooted in the assumption that busyness and hurry are virtues. Busyness is a badge of importance in our society that plays into our need to be needed! Maybe the reason that we don’t have more in-depth friendships or trust in our culture is the pace of our lives. Deep relationships require chunks of unhurried time. If you think you can fit the worship of God or the building of deep friendships into the cracks of an over-crowded schedule… think again. We can’t “microwave” relationships. We can’t listen in a hurry. We can’t mourn in a hurry. We can’t build trust in a hurry. Relationships take time! They don’t come instantly like the recipe…just add water and stir! And to be honest …our relationship with ourselves takes time, too. Instantitis is particularly problematic for pastors. We rush from board meetings… to youth events… to the hospital… and, to the sanctuary to lead worship. We are so busy that we are always in a hurry! The Chinese pictograph for “busy” is composed of two characters: heart and killing. The busier we are, the more we isolate ourselves from God, the significant people of our lives, and ourselves. Busyness and hurry literally kill our heart!
This is why God gave us a Sabbath Day… to rest, to become “unhurried” and concentrate on God, ourselves and the people closest to us. Sabbath is not a day for errands, catching up on e-mails or office work.…but a day to focus on the deepest things in life. The Sabbath was given to us by our Creator as a marker to help us stay on “the path” or get back on “the path” when we have lost our way. As author, Wayne Muller, says in, Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest, “Like a path through the forest, Sabbath creates a marker for ourselves so, if we are lost, we can find our way back to our center.”
Be honest…do WE take a Sabbath Day each week? In a world where over-work, busyness and hurry are seen as virtues, many pastors think they can’t afford to take a Sabbath. We preach the virtues of Sabbath for our congregations, but, often, do not take it for ourselves. But…if we do not allow for a rhythm of rest and Sabbath, then illness becomes our Sabbath. Our flu-bugs, bad colds and pneumonia create our Sabbath. Now, THAT is sick! But, in all honesty, that has sometimes been my own experience. Now, here’s the most important thing about the Sabbath for busy people… it does not begin when we are ready for it, or when we have finished all our tasks! Sabbath begins in the winter at 4:30 and in the summer at 8:30. It begins at sundown… whether we are ready for it or not. Sabbath requires surrender. It requires us to surrender to the reality that God is sovereign and we are not! We stop to take Sabbath as a reminder that God is in charge of the universe. In Sabbath, we are reminded of our unimportance… and that God can get along fine without us. This reminder is humbling… and good for the soul.
So…in addition to an annual physical this year, I invite you to join me in taking an “annual spiritual” and take a hard look at ourselves. In this regard, Henry Nouwen, the Roman Catholic priest and author, liked to share the difference between absurdity and obedience. Our English word “absurd” comes from the Latin “surdus” which means deaf. Our English word, “obedience” comes from the Latin “audire,” which means “to listen.” Nouwen believed that the spiritual life is a pilgrimage from absurdity to obedience – from deafness to listening. If we fully surrender to the discipline of Sabbath, we can slowly move from a life so filled with hurry that we are deaf to the gifts and blessings of our life… to a life in which we make time to listen to God, and Jesus! I am badly in need of an annual spiritual to rearrange the priorities of my life and regularly take the Rx antidote to Hurry Sickness…Sabbath. Are you?