Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Every moment is scheduled in our lives. The Bible tells us that all this hurrying has dramatic negative effects on us. So how can you slow down? The strategies I’m going to share with you today to slow down your life to a more rational, reasonable pace a

Slowing Down

When You’re Running On Empty

Ecclesiastes 4:4-8

John Ortberg tells the story of calling a wise friend to ask for some spiritual direction not long after moving to Chicago. I described the pace of life in my current ministry. The church where I serve tends to move at a fast clip. I also told him about our rhythms of family life: we are in the van-driving, soccer-league, piano-lesson, school-orientation-night years. I told him about the present condition of my heart, as best I could discern it. What did I need to do, I asked him, to be spiritually healthy? Long pause. "You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life," he said at last. Another long pause. "Okay, I’ve written that one down," I told him, a little impatiently. "That’s a good one. Now what else is there?" I had many things to do, and this was a long-distance call, so I was anxious to cram as many units of spiritual wisdom into the least amount of time possible. Another long pause. "There is nothing else," he said. "You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life."

You don’t have to be a prophet to know that technology has ¬¬made three things happen in the world. Our world has gotten smaller. Our world has gotten more complex and our world has sped up. You live a much faster lifestyle than your parents or grandparents did. And the way the world is going, your children will live an even faster lifestyle than you did. And on top of that, we keep trying to do more and more. It’s taking a toll on us. USA Today writes. “Today people are souped up, stressed out, and over scheduled. In this brave new world, boundaries between work and family are disappearing. Everybody is mobile and every moment is scheduled. The day care, school, after school activities and 10-12 hour workdays.” This fast paced, pressure cooker lifestyle is so new to the human race that anthropologists are now studying to see how it will affect us long term. The Bible tells us that all this hurrying has dramatic negative effects on us.

First, you feel more stress. The Bible says, “Overwork makes for restless sleep.” When you’re always in a hurry, your personal reserves get depleted and your stress goes way up. You have to periodically slow down. There’s nothing wrong with going fast unless you never slow down. You’re not the energizer bunny. Just going and going and going causes stress in your life.

Second, when you run at a high speed, you lose your joy. The faster you go in life, the less time you have to enjoy it. You’ve got to slow down to do that. I’ve noticed when I fly at 350 miles an hour I don’t enjoy the scenery at all. When I drive at 70 miles mph, I enjoy it a little bit but I miss the details. We’re going too fast. But if I really want to enjoy a town or a city, I walk through it. It is in walking that you get the sights and sounds and smells, the details. Enjoyment comes when you slow down. If you are continually fast paced, you’re not really enjoying anything. You may think you are but you’re not really enjoying it because you miss the details.

Third, when you’re going at a fast pace, you’re less productive. Every creative person knows this. The faster you go, the less productive you really are. The law of diminishing returns says you must pace yourself. Going fast all the time causes you to lose the ability to think and act creatively. Fourth, when I’m going too fast, I can’t hear God. If you’re moving at a fast pace in your life all the time, you don’t know God because you can’t know anyone in a hurry. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” You get to know God when you slow down, be quiet and become still. When you’re not still all your circuits are busy and you can’t hear God. All that activity creates too much noise in your life. If you don’t slow down, you will never get to know God. The only way to do that is by being still, having times of quiet, solitude, and intentional inactivity in your life.

So how can you slow down? The strategies I’m going to share with you today to slow down your life to a more rational, reasonable pace are counter-culture. They’re the exact opposite of what our culture teaches and encourages. But if you do these things you will find the joy going up and the stress going down in your life.

First, learn contentment. If you’re serious about slowing down don’t start with your schedule, start in the heart. Paul wrote in Philippians 4 “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” You are not by nature a contented person, neither am I. It is our nature to want things to be different, to want them to be better, to want them to be something other than they are. But if you’re going to slow down your life, you have to learn contentment. It’s learned over time. How do you do that? Paul says “There is great gain in godliness with contentment. For we brought nothing into the world and we can’t take anything out of the. So if we have food and clothing we will be content with that.” Paul reminds us life isn’t about things. I didn’t have anything before I was born. I’m not going to have anything after I die. So while I can use things while here on earth, contentment comes when realizing I don’t need more in order to be happy. There are three myths of our culture which encourage this attitude of discontent in our lives. First, having more will make me happy. That’s just not true. People who have won the lottery have all ended us less happy than before. Jesus said it like this, “A man’s life consists not in the abundance of things he possesses.” Luke 12:15

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