The Need for Speed: An Insane Pace Isn’t the Price Tag of Leadership

the need for speed price of leadership

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You can’t live life at warp speed without warping your soul.

In 2010, millions and millions of Toyota vehicles were recalled due to accelerator concerns. Toyota, apart from the costs of fixing the issue, paid out billions of dollars to settle class action suits. They’ve had a massive “accelerator problem,” and so do people in ministry.

Many of us live with a stuck accelerator. The frantic pace of life resides in the church as much as in the community. And we have no trouble rationalizing our velocity—after all, time is short, and we’re going fast for Jesus.

We have been scammed into believing that an insane pace is simply the price tag of effective leadership.

We have been scammed into believing that an insane pace is simply the price tag of effective leadership. Click To Tweet

This addiction to speed is pervasive. Filling up every second and compressing time characterizes our generation.

Our ability to work fast and play fast gives us power—it thrills us. We keep the pedal to the metal, trying to grab every possible opportunity. Adrenaline is our hormone of choice.

Living with a Hurried Spirit

I am a hurrier. I wish I had a dollar for every time my family heard me say “hurry up.” Sometimes I even walk in such a hurry that I leave my wife behind.

But worse than my hurried step is my hurried spirit. When I have to wait, or get delayed, or a movie drags, or there is dead time in a worship service, or someone in my small group is telling a long story, I find myself internally saying hurry up.

(I’ve been thinking about starting a support group for compulsive hurriers… The upside is, our meetings wouldn’t last long.)

Hurry is more about what’s going on inside you than what is going on around you. As I heard John Ortberg say once, “Hurry is not about a disordered schedule, it is about a disordered heart.”

Hurry is more about what’s going on inside you than what is going on around you. Click To Tweet

It’s not easy to slow down our lives.

Despite all our lamenting about how busy we are and the pace we maintain, we like exhilaration. It makes us feel important. We like pushing the envelope, and we like the adrenaline rush of a full life. Even in moments we think we’d like to get off the treadmill, we’re not quite sure what we would give up. How do you slow down in a world that just keeps speeding up and offering you more?

A stuck accelerator has huge implications for my soul and my ministry. Hurry is a devious soul enemy. Incessant activity will drain us. In our rush to accomplish much and live to the fullest, we rob ourselves of some of life’s richest moments.

In our rush to accomplish much and live to the fullest, we rob ourselves of some of life’s richest moments. Click To Tweet

Thomas Kelly talked about this incessant pull to try and do it all.

We feel honestly the pull of many obligations and try to fulfill them all. And we are unhappy, uneasy, strained, oppressed and fearful we shall be shallow. . . . We have hints that there is a way of life vastly richer and deeper than all this hurried existence, a life of unhurried serenity and peace and power.

What’s most amazing about those words is they were written in 1941. If they were relevant then, they are even more so today.

After many years of confronting my own pace, I have come to this fundamental conviction: Following Jesus cannot be done at a sprint. You can’t live life at warp speed without warping your soul.

Following Jesus cannot be done at a sprint. You can’t live life at warp speed without warping your soul. Click To Tweet

Since this issue of “hurry” has been on my radar in recent years, I’ve noticed something in the life of Jesus: He never seems in a hurry.

One advantage Jesus had was that “slow” was built into the fabric of ancient life. Think about how much slower life was in those days! When the Bible says in Mark 10:46 that they came to Jericho, this was an all day trip spent walking along the dusty road. The lack of technology and transportation forced life to be slower. The lack of cars, planes, e-mail, and smart phones made it easier to take your time.

Today, you and I live in a different world; we therefore must be even more intentional about slowing down.

So consider this: in your present context, what would it look like for you to “unstick” your life’s accelerator? What habits or practices do you need to reconsider? What attention do you need to give to your own soul?

Lance Witt

Lance is a pastor and a friend to leaders. He is passionate about helping people live well so they can lead well. Lance served 20 years as a Senior Pastor before serving 7 years as an Executive/Teaching pastor at Saddleback Church in Southern California. He is also the founder of Replenish ministries and for more than a decade has been serving leaders and organizations of all shapes and sizes. Lance has written two books, Replenish and High Impact Teams.

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