Dear Friends,

As we prepare for our Fresh Hope Collective in May, I am constantly reminded that we are easily persuaded towards hurriedness. The fast pace of life seems to be taking its toll on our mental health and on our capacity to simply be satisfied and content with life.

There is a subtle persuasion sweeping across our world that cuts to the core of our identity and fulfilment. It goes something like this: You’re not really valuable to anyone unless you relentlessly pursue success and become driven towards goals and outcomes that prove your worth.

Before you misunderstand me, please know that I am not suggesting we don’t work hard. There is a difference between a healthy work ethic and an internal driven-ness that loses perspective and creates a self-centric mindset impervious to the needs of others and the Sovereignty of God. 

In a dialogue between a key leader and the late Dallas Willard, the leader was keen to ask Dallas what was essential to stay spiritually healthy. The answer:  Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.

The calling of ministry – working and living by faith, is not a corporate journey.  Ministry at its core is an expression of spiritual health. So why so often do we benchmark against corporate practice instead of biblical values and truthful engagement?

It is somewhat easy to diagnose the causes of hurriedness but far harder to remedy its impact. I have found three pieces vitally important to remain ‘alive in the spirit’ thus avoiding the pitfalls of driven-ness and hurriedness.

Significance
At every moment in every day we need to faithfully remind ourselves that our significance is defined in and through the reality of following Jesus. ‘My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.’ (Gal 2:20 NLT)  

Self-Awareness
Rowan Williams the Archbishop of Canterbury suggests that self-awareness is critical. He states: ‘Self-awareness… isn’t just about digging around in my motivations all the time, but rather finding the freedom from the immediate noise of expectations and projections and demands. Finding the freedom to hear my name from God.’

Being self-aware enables us to surrender and submit to God and others in humility and service. We slowly shed our need to control, to win and to dominate, free to express ourselves without fear of rejection.

Stillness
Sometimes we each give the impression of being utterly driven, utterly compelled to achieve in everything we do, thus unable to stop, listen and reflect.  In the 17th century Saint Francis de Sales responded to a lady seeking spiritual direction: ‘I’ll start giving you spiritual direction when you have begun to walk more slowly, talk more slowly and eat more slowly.’

And so the word of God comes: ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ (Psalm 46:10) Stillness not only refreshes our soul, but reminds us we are both large and small in the expanse of God’s kingdom.

At our Fresh Hope Collective this year, one of our keynote speakers is Dr Curt Thompson. Curt is a Christian psychiatrist who lives from deep places resourced in the reality of God’s word and His creation through our minds. I pray you might get to hear some of his teaching – it might just slow you down and save you from yourself.

Dr Andrew Ball