Ruthless Elimination of Hurry – Discussion Guide 1


You can access a PDF version of this Discussion Guide here.


Foreword, Prologue and Chapter 1

Review, Reflect and Discuss

Feel free to comment and raise any questions that occur to you as you read. Don’t be limited to the questions listed after the summaries, but they might help to prime your thinking.

Foreword – John Ortberg commends the book, defines the essence of hurry as ‘too much to do’, explains why being delivered from it is so important and argues that being delivered from it will mean having ‘the ability to do calmly and effectively – with strength and joy – that which really matters.

  • Do you recognise how much of a problem hurry is? What would life look like if you were not hurried?

Prologue: Autobiography of an epidemic – JMC explains how he came to realise how hurry was robbing him of his main purpose in life which was to be an apprentice of Jesus, learning his way of life. He gives some idea of the radical changes he started to make so he could become the person he wanted to become. He then invites us to join him, especially if we are feeling weary and burdened by life, to discover some of the things that he has learned on this journey.

  • Why might hurry stop us from becoming the person we want to become?

Part 1 – The Problem

Chapter 1 –Hurry: the enemy of spiritual life – JMC introduces his two main influences – Ortberg and Willard – and explains where the phrase ‘ruthless elimination of hurry’ came from. He then draws on others, C.S.Lewis among them, to underline how much hurry is toxic to spiritual life. He shows that it is incompatible with the main kingdom value of love, and of a life characterised by walking – not running – with God. Quoting his mentor, John Ortberg, he argues we cannot truly live in the kingdom of God with a hurried soul.

  • What does healthy busyness look like and what does unhealthy busyness look like?
  • Why are hurry and love incompatible?
  • JMC quotes Ortberg’s concern for the danger that we ‘just skim our lives instead of actually living them.’ What do you think it means to ‘skim our lives’?


The next chapters to read, ready for discussion, are Chapter 2: A brief history of speed and Chapter 3: Something is deeply wrong.

More to read


  1. Paul Symonds

    Whilst I agree that hurry would be a barrier to maturing as a Christian, I would change it slightly from ‘hurry’ to ‘time mismanagement’. The mismanagement of time can lead to hurry, but it depends what demands are being made on your time. For me, most of the symptoms of hurry that JMC describes also result from simply using my time poorly. I’m pretty sure that if I organised my time better, I’d be able to do everything I needed to, as well as find time to spend with God. As it is, I tend to prioritise those things that have a tangible result, such as animating or songwriting, and then find ‘I don’t have time’ to spend with God. So for me, it’s not hurry that’s the problem – just priorities.

    • Trevor Lloyd

      But don’t you think, Paul, that poor priorities and bad time management contribute to an inner sense of hurry, and maybe an outward expression of it?

  2. Ruth

    Do you recognise how much of a problem hurry is? – Yes. For me (still!) being busy is a good sign! I identified a few years ago that I held a lot of my value in how much I was ‘doing’ and how ‘useful’ I was to those around me. I have identified this week (with the help of Brene Brown) that at moments of great stress and anxiety I am an ‘over-funtioner’. I default into control and action.

    What would life look like if you were not hurried? – Not having a lot going on… it makes me anxious! My family of origin place high value on contribution. I get a bit lost if I don’t have a task to be working on.

    Why might hurry stop us from becoming the person we want to become? – Because for me being busy keeps my mind occupied and the ‘gremlins’ at bay. Being busy stops me from addressing the uncomfortable things and thoughts that surface when there is capacity in my brain. If/when I take time and direct effort and lean in to those nasties and uncomfortable things, of course I find Jesus there, non-judgmental and patient, ready to help me unravel that stuff and walk it through with the mind of Christ in order that I might become one step closer to being like him.

    • Ali Sharman

      I agree with what you say Ruth about being busy keeping your mind occupied and stops you thinking about things you don’t want to think about. This is behaviour I observe in myself and identify with the bit later on in chapter 3 about hurry being a sign that you are running away from something. I really relate to that!

  3. Ali Sharman

    I think that I too have badly managed my time and have not prioritised that which I should be giving more importance to, namely time with God. I do think though that I suffer from an inner sense of hurry and really identify with what Cormer writes about having a “nonstop anxiety that rarely goes away, and a tinge of sadness” (p.2) I feel, like Ortberg writes, that I skim my life instead of actually living it, meaning I rarely experience what Cormer identifies as “presence in the moment” (p.24). My mind is always elsewhere – focusing on a never ending to do list, thinking what I’m having for tea, multi-tasking and constantly checking social media!

    Could healthy busyness be finding out your calling in life so you are doing things not out of duty, but out of love, stepping off the merry go round and start looking after yourself (e.g. getting enough sleep) so that you can prioritise time with God, seriously pursuing living in the moment by engaging in activities such as walking to work, not working long hours etc? This is the opposite to unhealthy busyness where you are always reacting to situations, doing things out of a sense of duty (and probably guilt), rushing to get stuff done, always on the last minute, having limited downtime etc. etc.

    • Trevor Lloyd

      I find that I will sometimes use busyness with relatively trivial things as a means of avoiding the investment of the time and emotional energy in doing things that really matter. Using unhealthy busyness to avoid healthy work.


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