The Virus of Hurry

hurry leadership relationships Mar 08, 2023

Blog by Alan Fadling

I believe that hurry is a virus. It’s something we can catch from others. One outcome of the global pandemic is that our cultural hurry has been exposed. In the early months when we were all quarantining in place, some people realized that they were grateful for the open space in their schedules to rest and enjoy their families.


My first exposure to the idea of hurry as a virus came from my friend Paul Jensen and his doctoral work, Subversive Spirituality: Transforming Mission through the Collapse of Space and Time. The collapse of time in contemporary culture is best seen in the common dynamic of hurry among us.


Jensen suggests that the collapse of space and time, which looks like isolation and hurry in lived experience, functions in some ways like addiction and in others like a virus. It infects our assumptions about leadership and the values of our organizational cultures. Carl Honoré, author of In Praise of Slowness, has also been talking about hurry as a virus, especially during the global pandemic.


What does this look like? The pace of a leader’s soul will influence the pace of their organization. Are they hurried or unhurried? Anxious or non-anxious? Rooted in joy or addicted to excitement? Concerned for people or interested only in the bottom line? Leaders set the tone of the organizational culture.


Paul Jensen has suggested that a sad example of the virus of hurry is seen when Christian leaders from the developing world come to the United States. They come to seminaries and Christian universities to receive wonderful training for the work of ministry back home. What they don’t realize is that while they are here, they also catch our virus of cultural hurry. And they bring it back to their own cultures.


I’ve visited churches and ministries around the world in cultures that are not as hurried as ours. But I’ve often found that the pastors in those settings are more hurried than the people they lead. They are living out what was modeled for them during their training in developed world settings.


Part of the purpose of my international work over the years has been to combat the virus of hurry that many leaders from the developing world caught in the West. It’s been a great gift to help them recapture the goodness of their less-hurried home culture.


Hurry is highly contagious. The good news is that unhurry also appears to be infectious. Leaders who learn to live in the unhurried way of Jesus model an inviting way to lead. More gracious, less driven. More peaceful, less anxious. More gentle, less harsh.


Who we are as we lead makes a great deal of difference, so giving significant attention to the health of our souls is a strategic leadership initiative.


For Reflection 

  • In your key relationships, to what degree are you influencing others in hurry or in unhurry? Is there something you’d like to change about your influence?


Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash