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The Hurried Pace of Life (Part 1)

The Hurried Pace of Life (Part 1)


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Episode Overview

A typical answer given when someone is asked how they’re doing is, “Busy.” It seems that we are running at an unsustainable pace, leaving our tanks empty. While this is a reality for most people, Gen Z has grown up in this context and they often know nothing different.

On today’s episode, we’ll talk about why we find ourselves in such a hurried pace of life, what that does to our spiritual journeys, and some ways we might find a more sustainable and life-giving pace as we walk with the next generation. 

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Show Notes
Read the Transcript

Connor Owen: Welcome to The Approach, a microcast where we help you walk with and pray for the next generation. My name is Connor Owen, and as always, I'm joined by my co-host, John Rinehimer. We serve on staff at World Gospel Mission. John's also working on his PhD in Spiritual Formation within Gen Z.

Now we're excited about this because this episode is the first in a three-part series we've been talking about for a while. We're calling it Hurry, Worry, and Distraction, which from his studies, John believes are the enemies of abiding. John, why these three topics? 

John Rinehimer: I know it sounds like I didn't try very hard because those rhyme, but these really are themes that I've seen over and over again in my research. And just to kind of clarify, when we talk about abiding, I know it can go a lot of different directions, but we're trying to simplify it and say what we mean by that, abiding, is life with Jesus and power through the Holy Spirit. 

And so, as I've looked at, whether it's sociology, psychology, anthropology, theology, all the -ologies, just kind of seeing all these areas of life are being negatively formed, impacted, shaped, whatever you want to say. But yeah, all that is impacting Gen Z's walk with Jesus. And so, now you may say, "Oh, hurry, worried, distracted, that sounds like my life, too." 

Connor: Yeah. 

John: Well it is.

Connor: Yeah. 

John: The big difference is for most of them, that's their entire life. It's all they've ever known. 

Connor: Right. 

John: Whereas old fogie adults here, that's only kind of more of maybe a newer occurrence than the entire thing. So many of Gen Z, their hurried pace of life, it leaves them feeling just stretched way too thin. And so, what does Jesus invite them into? He says, "Hey, walk with me. I have a life-giving pace or rhythm of life." Many Gens Zers worry about just a ton of things, and they wish they didn't worry about it. It causes anxiety. And yet, all these things still make them anxious even though they're praying and taking it to God. And they don't know how to necessarily deal with that in all the mature ways that maybe other Christians before them have known how to do. So Jesus invites them to keep trusting Him and actively trust and wait with Him in His presence as they keep walking and find fullness in Him, in His presence. And that brings joy. 

And then, the last one then is many Gen Zers today do you feel, there's a lot of jokes and memes and things like that floating out there that they would easily poke fun at, but they feel easily, not feel, they often are easily distracted throughout their day as many of us are, too. But Jesus invites them instead into giving their whole life, or we might say worship, worship more than just music with their whole being, and giving their full attention to Jesus. And so, those kind of themes are kind of sparking these next couple episodes. 

Connor: Yeah. So that's a lot, so we're not going to focus on all of that today. We're just going to focus on the first part. We're going to talk about a hurried pace of life. Dallas Willard is somebody we've been talking a lot as we've been going through this series, and he talks about how, "Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life in our day. The most important thing in your life is not what you do, it's who you become. That's what you will take into eternity." 

And John, I know it'd be hard for you and me and our families, and we talked about the fact that it's hard for us to just clear our schedules, to drop everything, get rid of the meetings and cancel the extracurricular activities. So what's the difference between a hurried pace of life and a sustainable, life-giving pace? 

John: Yeah. It reminds me of a goal I set a couple years ago, right before a birthday, which happens to a lot of people, right? And I'd never done a triathlon and I don't know what ever sparked me to do this, but I had a buddy, he was like, "Come on, it'll be awesome. Let's do it together." 

Connor: Awesome triathlon? Please. 

John: Yeah, I was like, "Did I lose a bet here?" So I did it. And just to make sure you understand this, it wasn't a full triathlon, it was called a sprint. 


John: Which is still more than anything I normally would do or a mini one. But anyway, so I train for it, right? I do all the stuff, and I'm feeling pretty good about it. And race day came, first part is the swim, and it's an indoor swim at this university, which is great because you can see where you're going. And so, you're going to zig-zag your way through this Olympic-sized pool. And of course, you can kind of select which timeframe, what pace you want to go at. 


John: Of course, I still think, "Oh yeah, I'm going to pick near the fast so I can do my very best of this." And so, I get to the front of the group and I am feeling great. I am going strong the first few laps. And then, it dawns on me that this pool that I'm in is double the length of the pool I've trained in. So while I've trained the right distance, I was taking shorter breaks in between. And so, I'm halfway through and I am literally thinking, "I'm going to die. I am going to drown." I am channeling all of my college swimming, like, "I can still do this. I'm going to be fine." And I just foolishly assume that magically that training from 20 years ago was going to carry over. And it didn't. 

I did survive, shocker. And man, I was so wrong, because I did seriously almost drown. And my pride got to me, because I also was swimming really hard, but I didn't want anybody to pass me either. 

Connor: Right. 

John: And so, I'm like, "No, not today." And so, I'm simultaneously drowning and saying, "I'm going to go faster." And I literally was swimming at an unsustainable pace. And so, so many times in life I think it can be like that. We have these intense days where our rhythms aren't supporting our pace of life. They're not sustainable. They're not life-giving. And just to be clear, it's not that Jesus wasn't ever in a hurry. 

Connor: Right. 

John: It's a mindset. So His pace often was fast, but He had healthy rhythms so He wasn't always like, "Rush to the next thing, rush to the next person." He saw people. He was fully present, so He had a sustainable rhythm and pace. So I don't know if that makes sense or not. 

Connor: It does make sense. There is one part of the story I think you left out. I feel like the first time I heard this, your kids were worried about you because they were watching and can sense, "Dad doesn't look okay." 

John: Yeah. Thanks for bringing that up. It's for the children. 

Connor: It is, it is. 

John: It's for the kids. It's for the next generation, way to go. Yeah. My kids did say after I got out, I had finished the race, they were like, "Dad, were you okay? It looked like you were going to drown out there." I wish I was making that up. 

Connor: It's a real story. 

John: The funny story about that is, it's not a funny story. I guess it is, it's not, but unfortunately, it illustrates how many of us, but particularly, how many Zers are living their lives. 

Connor: Yeah. 

John: They've grown up in families or schools or cultures where the propensity is to schedule or overschedule every second of their life. And it creates this hurried pace of life where you don't have meals together. Sabbath, church, "It's okay. You've got to play on that team," or "You've got to get those great grades." And yes, those are all valuable, but in the proper order and proportion. And so, in some ways we believe this myth that maybe it's the American Dream. "To live the American Dream, I've got to live this hurried life." 

Connor: Yeah. 

John: You have people, "Hey, how are you doing?" 

"Oh, I'm busy," AKA, I'm hurried. 

Connor: Hurried. 

John: And so, it's almost become a cultural expectation, I would say. 

Connor: Yeah. And I think some of the other cultural things that are happening at the same time is we're seeing one-fourth of all kids in the US are living in single-parent homes. So if you have just one parent doing all the activities, that's obviously leading to mom and/or dad, whichever one, we're seeing them look hurried. Kids are seeing that as the norm, because isn't two people there sharing that load. We're also seeing a 30% increase in both parents working full-time over the last 50 years. Again, we're not trying to make these things are terrible things or make people feel bad if you fall into these camps. I fall into the both parents working full-time. But those two things are happening at the same time that we're finding ourselves more hurried. 

John: Yeah. And adding to that is just, I don't know about you, but playing in the neighborhood back in the day, it's like you would just play in the neighborhood. 

Connor: Yeah. 

John: You'd shoot hoops with some Bay people or ride bikes or play games or whatever. And now with people, you've got to play in these leagues and this and that, and you've got to have this lesson and that, and go to this activity and have this great, great. And again, all good things, but are they necessarily the best things? And so, fun play, if you will, just generic play is pushed out. So the American Academy of Pediatrics literally is prescribing play to families as a significant, invaluable way to develop their kids in contrast to their hurried lives of every schedule of the day. "I've got something every night, every hour, go to the next go, go, go, go, go." 

Yeah. And it seems normal, so we all do it. This kid's in soccer, this kid's in baseball. So we all sign our kids up and next thing you know, your life is just so busy. We've talked a lot, John, about the hurried pace of life, how it's leaving us feeling, probably just stretched a little bit too thin. But Jesus, as we talked about earlier, He invites us to walk with Him at that life-giving pace. Could you unpack the theme of walking and maybe how we see that throughout Scripture? 

John: Yeah, I'd recommend those that are watching, listening, it's a great just biblical study to go through and just say, "Look at all the occurrences," a great word study of how walk is used throughout the Bible. But it's really maybe one of the premiere metaphors of Scripture for this walking with Jesus, this intimate relationship, this abiding life, this, "How do I have His holy love and His presence in me?" And so, it's really, the biblical antidote for a hurried pace of life isn't just trying harder, doing more. It's a walk with God. It's this steadiness, it's Sabbath. "It's the first day of my week, not my leftovers, so Jesus re-orient my heart." Having those kind of things built in, family meals and other things like that. 

So walking is just a huge metaphor all throughout Scripture. It begins in Genesis and you can kind of find it pretty much cover to cover, and I think it's a critical part for Gen Z to get is, they need margin. They need space. They need sustainable rhythms that I think they're crying out for because they're going, "All this stuff I'm doing, all these other things, man, I think they're out of proportion a lot of times and I'm getting tired. I'm getting anxious. It's not giving me the results I really want. I'm exhausted, I'm anxious, I'm spiritually dry or maybe even buying into spiritual pluralism." 

These are all things that we see. And then, what happens is there's this anemic inner life, and they use words maybe like, "I feel dry inside" or "empty" or maybe "apathetic." And then, they deconstruct and they hit this wall, instead of, "No, Jesus wants to take you deeper into this spirit-led, this abiding life." And so, where He invites you, Jesus is saying, "Let me fill and form you." 


John: "Just slow down. Make room for me." 


Yeah. When we talk about pace, I remember I was probably 10 or 11. My brother was, I think, home from college and we were on a jog one day, and I remember the spot. We were going down this hill and- 

John: We do a lot of exercising in our stories, don't we? 


We do a lot of exercising. We're not that fast, though. It's really interesting. 

 Not that fit, either. 

We're not that fast. 

 It sounds like it. 

We have three stories of working out, and so we just keep repeating them. 

John: Yeah. 

Well, we were running. And he was older than me, he's about eight years older than me, so he says, "Dude, you are all over the place with your pace." And I'm like 10, so I'm going, "I have no idea what you're talking about." And he goes, "Man, you speed up. You get super fast on me, and I'm trying to keep up with you, and then you slow way down." And it hit me, "Oh, yeah. I'm not finding that comfortable pace." And he talked to me about that.

And it makes me think about that's what we're talking about. We're going so fast, so hard all the time. And then we, I don't want to use the word burn out, but we find ourselves just empty. We have tanks that are empty with not much more to give. And I think that's where a lot of us are finding ourselves. But we need somebody alongside us to go, "Find a pace. Find something you can stick with." 

John: Yeah. It's the classic scripture, "What does it really matter if I gain the whole world but I lose my soul?" Right? It's that whole person. And so, I love that story. And it just does make me wonder about, "Am I using time or is time using me?" And you go back to the life of Jesus and you could argue, "Oh, it was different back in biblical times. They had to walk." But I get that, but His days were full. 


John: He was in a hurry a lot of times, but His overall pace of life and rhythm was He got away to be with the Father. He made time to pray. He was looking for what the Holy Spirit was guiding Him into each and every conversation and situation. 

And so, then Paul, he writes about life is a race also, right? 


John: And it's not a sprint, it's a walk, though. And so, that's part of the kingdom paradox. It's like, "Who wins races and triathlons walking?" 


John: "That's not how you win. That's not the American way." Time works differently though, in Jesus' kingdom. And there's this crazy principle of He can somehow take these shorter increments of time and make them more useful and efficient. Yeah. The concept of, "Are we being used by time, or life-giving?" Chronos is that phrase or that word that means it's this daily grind. It's that Greek concept of just every day, grind it out, the stuff I have to do in my schedule. And usually, it's pretty exhausting, all the to-do list kind of things. 

Connor: Yeah.
John: And then, chronos is that life-giving kind of life, that's those real moments you care about. "Am I making quality time with that Gen Zer of my life? Or just what really matters most, and I filling my soul with those things, spending time with Jesus?" And so, I don't know if that helps at all or not, but just thinking about, "How are we using time or is time using us?

Yeah. And John, if Gen Z, if they're running at this unsustainable pace, which I think even if you're not Gen Z, you may be feeling you're running at that sustainable pace. 

John: Sure.
Connor: We're designed to walk, though. I wonder what does that do to our spiritual lives if we're running too fast, but our spirits are saying, "No, no. I need you to slow down."? 

John: Yeah. I think it's really freeing, actually, when you finally embrace it and you realize, "Jesus' goal for me is not a sprint." 


John: "Jesus' goal for me isn't, 'Just try harder, stupid.' He actually goes, 'No. Walk with me.'" And then, His yoke is easy. Yoke means His teaching, His way. And all of a sudden, you go like this. It's why so many things right now, whether it's a mindfulness app or this or that, it starts with breathing, because breathing actually frees you up and you feel this release. I love how New Testament scholar, N.T. Wright says, "It's only when we slow down our lives that we catch up to God." 

I think Willard said, "It's hard to love people when you're in a hurry." 

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. 

John: Which I'm sure none of us have ever done that, where it's like, "I'm hurrying up." Kids need you and you're like, "Not now." This is just one of those paradoxes of the Gospel though that, and I think it's significant for spiritual formation, there's so many things culturally, of our secular narrative that are trying to shape us and are subtly shaping us.

And Jesus says, "Would you let me speak into to that? If you just walk with me, I'll give you what you need the most. Learn to walk with me. I'll help you have healthy rhythms of abiding in order to fight against hurry, worry, and distraction." 

Connor: Well, I think this helps all of us who are walking with Gen Z, but we can also take it away, "What does this mean for us, for our own lives, and for the lives of our Gen Zers? What does it look like for you to faithfully walk with Jesus? And what pace of life do you want to pass on to that Gen Zer in your life or model for that Gen Zer in your life?"
And we know at WGM especially, that prayer catalyzes change and it brings God's kingdom to earth. We've seen it through our pioneering missionaries that we were just talking about on the way here for over a century. And that's why we take time on each episode to pray over the topic, to pray over Gen Z, because that's where the real work is. And that's the only way things advance. 

And today, leading us in our prayer is a member of Gen Z, Gabe Ernst. We are so excited to have Gabe join us today. He's a couple months away from flying to Paraguay and we're super excited that he took time out of his schedule to come join us. He's going to work with indigenous people and youth. He's an Asbury University graduate. He's got a heart for the world and for his own generation. Gabe, we are so thankful that you took some time to join us today and lead us in prayer. 

Gabe Ernst: Ezekiel 36:25-27 says, "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away. And you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations." 

Let us pray.

Jesus, our creator of life, our redeemer and our provider, we come to you today as we are talking about being hurried and being busy in our lives. Whether we're in the Gen Z community or whether we're in another generation, Lord, we all experience this. And so, we bring this before you today. We lay us down at your feet. We lay down our busy lives, our over-committed schedules. 

We even lay down our identity, Lord, that sometimes we place our identity in all these things that keep us going or that keep us busy because we feel that this identifies us and this really just drives our life. And so, today we lay these things down. We put them before you, and we say that you are the one who gives us our identity, Lord. You have created us. You have made us in your image and you call us your child. 

And we know that this is the only thing that matters. All of these other things that we have going on in our lives, the things that make us stressed or overwhelmed or hurried in our daily lives, we know that those do not define us. They don't need to be hanging over us, Lord. And today, we just pause as we're praying and laying down these offerings in our lives and these burdens. 

And we also want to thank you, Lord. We want to praise you for the ways that you have provided for us in our lives. We want to thank you for the ways that you have shown up over the last year. As we're heading into this new year with many unexpected turns that we may face or unknowns that are before us, or things that have already been in our lives that are just hanging over our heads, Lord, or something that just stresses us out every day. We take all of these things and we say thank you because we know that you are in control. We know that you reign over everything, Lord, that you have a plan, that we are a part of the plan. Even though we don't deserve it, even though you don't need us, you choose to use us in your plan and in your will each day because you are our Father. 

And so today, we think about all these things that make us feel hurried and overwhelmed and busy. I know if there's any college students that are listening right now, Lord, we know that they may feel overwhelmed with their semester or with their assignments. And those of us in this Gen Z community, some of us can feel this pressure to perform and this pressure to feel like we have to be perfection in everything that we do. And so, we lay these things before you, that you would guide us alone, that you would not put this pressure on us, Lord. 

We ask that through these moments in our lives that we would not succumb to just filling up our schedules throughout each week, that we would make time for you, that we would be able to experience true rest in your Spirit, that we would be able to get out of the house, that we would be able to go in nature and see your glory shown in your creation, that we would be with other believers in our lives that give us this Christian community, Lord. We ask that you would continue to lead us through our week and throughout the rest of this day, because we know that if you are leading us, that we will be following in the right direction, that we are not leading ourselves. 

And so, today we give you all these things. We know that we need to be resting in your Spirit, Lord, and in your presence. And so, help us to keep this rhythm of rest in pausing and Sabbath and renewal, so that we may follow you more closely and so that we may be filled with your Spirit every day of our lives and in our walk with you. 

And Lord, we also take this time of prayer to lift up those that are feeling a calling into ministry that are a part of this Gen Z community. We lift up those in college right now that are trying to figure out what they're supposed to do with their lives, what career path they're supposed to take, what major they need to choose. We ask that you would give them true direction and guidance, Lord, and that they would know that their identity is in you. 

We ask that you would raise up laborers for the harvest around the world in the Gen Z community so that more young people will say yes, and that they will follow you with their entire heart and their entire life. We give all these things to you Lord, and we thank you for the ways that you provide for us, and the ways that you give us opportunities to rest and to pause and to reflect on who you are and what you do for us. We give you all of these things, Lord. In your name, Jesus. Amen. 

Connor: Thanks for taking the time to join us, Gabe, and thanks to all of you for listening and watching another episode of The Approach, a podcast where we pray for and walk with the next generation as they seek to use their gifts and talents and experiences to journey with Jesus and participate in the Great Commission. 

We'd also love to encourage you to begin inviting your friends to join in this movement. We believe God is stirring in the hearts of each generation, and as we seek to walk with and pray for the next generation, it's going to require more and more mentors and coaches and teachers and parents to do this work. So please share this with somebody you love and who would love to go on this journey. Also, be sure to subscribe or follow and give us a rating on your podcast platform, as this helps others find the podcast and go on the journey with us. For some of our resources, be sure to check out our show notes on our website at

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