The Addiction to the Illusion of Urgency

addiction unhurried living urgency Feb 12, 2020

What is most needed in the world today is non-anxious presence. (Walter Brueggemann)

A while back, I heard a compelling phrase spoken by Brie Stoner on the Another Name for Every Thing podcast:

“The addiction to the illusion of urgency.”

Each one of the main words in this sentence packs a punch. Do we really want to struggle with an addiction? Do we want to be under any illusions? And is urgency our best mode?

I thought it might be interesting to ponder this sentence together since we are all learning, in our own lives, how to live, influence and lead in the unhurried way of Jesus.

Do you find it difficult to maintain an unhurried inner pace in the culture in which you live? Most of us live here in North America. But we also have readers from around the world. In every country we have visited, the leaders struggle with hurry in various forms. 

It’s very easy to get stuck in emergency mode. Most of us don’t actually have a true emergency going on all the time. And yet our brains get stuck in a pattern of thinking we are in a rush and that there is a sense of urgency to complete one task and move to the next as quickly as possible. This can take on the aspects of an addiction. More, more, more. Push, push, push.


Why must we complete everything quickly? Why must we do more? Why must we rush from one thing to the next? Why do we act like a victim to this inner sense of urgency?

These are great questions. Sometimes we believe that being fast and checking off more items on our list equals true productivity. But fast is not the measure of fruitfulness in the Kingdom of God.

What does it take to produce the fruit that lasts that Jesus speaks of in John 15? Jesus says this phrase to the disciples in the context of love, joy, relationship and being chosen by him. If anything is urgent, it is our need to remain attached to the Vine, Jesus himself.

Why might it look like to use some of our urgency energy to make space and time to rest, reflect, recharge, and refill? This is the starting place of unhurried leadership. We give from the reservoir that has been filled by God himself, not from the last drop of our ever-emptying cup.

So, go ahead, look back at the questions above and ask yourself: Why are you in such a hurry? Are you stuck in emergency mode? Do you need to rethink the definition of productivity?

Much to ponder…I realize I may have raised more questions than answers. I encourage you to look within and lean into the ways you might want to unhook from rush, false urgency and hurry.

Let’s let Pierre Teilhard de Chardin close us here for now. 

“Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.” ― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


Photo by Matthew Brodeur on Unsplash