An Unhurried Life: Following
Jesus‘ Rhythms of Work and Rest
“I am a recovering speed addict.”
Beginning with this confession, pastor and spiritual director Alan Fadling goes on to describe his journey out of the fast lane and into the rhythms of Jesus. Following the framework of Jesus’ earthly life, Fadling shows how the work of “unhurrying” ourselves is central to our spiritual development in such pivotal areas as resisting temptation, caring for others, praying and making disciples. Here is a book that affirms that we are called to work and to do work. Productivity is not a sin—it is the attitudes behind our work that can be our undoing. So how do we find balance between our sense of calling and the call to rest? An Unhurried Life offers a way.
The 2014 Christianity Today Book Award of Merit Winner (Spirituality)
Reviewer – Carl Walker
Founder of En Gedi Retreat
Age: 40 something
Married 20+ years with three children
“A God for whom a day is like a thousand years is not in a hurry.” -Alan Fadling
Alan takes a hard, in-depth look at his own dysfunctional work and rest habits that have brought him to new level and pace of doing life, and, more importantly, a new understanding of why he now operates on this new level. This “why” is what makes this book so incredibly beneficial. He addresses the “Why” while also covering the “how” and “what”, no easy task.
Alan takes a well-balanced look at numerous parts of our lives, from family to ministry, to church. He paints this picture with a broad brush across our lives, but then uses a shovel to dig deep into the heart of rest, and not just how we view it, which is extremely important, but how we live it out. His topical focus was obviously dug up from a very personal place, chewed on for a long time, then practiced out in the flesh. He now effectively transfers this into a writing that is educational, inspirational, and practical for the reader.
I loved his fresh authenticity about his own work patterns and habits that led him down the wrong path, and many of his honest admissions, like when he talks about questioning his identity when he lost his “position” as a pastor.
My Favorite Quotes –
“Sabbath can be a weekly reminder that our work is not sovereign, but God is. Our allegiance is first to God, not to our to-do list or appointment calendar.”
“We act as though we have no freedom to choose to make regular space for rest in our life and work.”
“At the time I was a full-time college pastor, a full-time student at Fuller Theological Seminary and a new husband. I’m sad to say my priorities were pretty much in that order.”
Personal Take away –
I came away from this book with a new appreciation for how unhurried Christ was, how unhurried God is, and how I am like neither of them (not an easy pill to swallow for a guy who started a pastoral retreat center). If I want to be an imitator of Christ, be more like my Father in heaven, then I must not only accept that they work slowly and purposefully, but I also must take strives to imitate that pace of work. A quote Alan used in the book from a famous, persecuted Chinese pastor is “To walk with God you must go at a walking pace.”
I have also started to take hard look at a concept Alan discusses in the book about living as if eternity were a “now” reality, and not a “someday” proposition. His challenge was to think of how differently I would work and rest if I accepted that eternity has already begun.
Who is this book for?
I can’t think of a person young or old, new in seminary or old and retired who would not benefit from the discussion in this writing.
Reviewer- Steve Schmidt
En Gedi Retreat Legacy Director
Age: 60 something
Married 40+ years, three kids and lots of grandkids
Alan Fadling’s An Unhurried Life, is not just a call to slow down. Using the example of the way Jesus lived out his relationship with his Father, Fadling calls us all to an intimate relationship with God. It is for that intimacy that slowing down is required. Intimacy cannot be achieved quickly or when one of the parties is in a hurry because of being too busy with stuff, no matter how good the stuff is.
Using Biblical as well as personal example, Fadling shows that An Unhurried Life, while difficult for us to accept culturally, is much more valuable than some new program, in allowing us to become more Christ like and ultimately more successful for the Kingdom.
“For me, hurry squeezes life out of the present moment.”
“Pace of grace”
“If you’re carrying a yoke that’s too heavy for you, are you telling Jesus he’s wrong when he describes his own yoke as well-fitting and restful?”
“Good work grows best in the soil of good rest.”
In relating a story about Trappist monk, Father Sam, who would arise early for alone time with God, Fadling says that after lunch, the monk would often be seen “getting ready to practice one of his favorite spiritual disciplines–napcio divina.”
Personal take-away –
While I must admit to occasionally getting frustrated with things (or people) that aren’t moving at the pace I desire, I generally am very comfortable with an easy pace to life. An unhurried life is not lazy (as my life can tend to become at times). I was also intrigued with the concept Fadling calls Extended Personal Communication (EPC) with God. My early attempts have been challenging, exciting and baffling. There is also significant insight into the value of an unhurried life in resisting temptation.
I believe this book can help anyone who wants a more intimate relationship with the Savior. It will also be beneficial if you desire the spiritual leaders/mentors in your life to have greater intimacy with God. You need to read the whole book and not just the reviews because we all left a bunch of good stuff out.
Reviewer- Chase Lovins
En Gedi Retreat apprentice
Age: 20 something
Single, no children
You have God’s permission to rest
Alan Fadling’s An Unhurried Life is an inspiring, Biblically based argument for rest, refreshment, and slowing down. Fadling weaves an intricate web of Biblical examples, personal experience, and uncompromising wisdom, all in a well-established framework. Fadling takes the time (unlike most authors) in the beginning to set the stage for the reader and layout exactly how he plans on guiding them through the journey of establishing an unhurried life. The book is well written, filled with memorable quotes, anecdotes, and numerous real-life stories and confessions from the author himself. Fadling lays himself out before his readers allowing them to see his every mistake, blunder, and misgiving, all the while using them to point the reader towards a more unhurried life.
The book does a wonderful job of establishing the theory and heart behind the necessity of living an unhurried life, yet comes up short in helping the reader practically apply the principles in his or her own life. Fadling laid a wonderful groundwork, and explained the truths of scripture phenomenally, yet allocated very little to helping the reader practically slow down. However, Fadling’s intent may have been to establish the reader in the principles and allow him or her to discover the ‘how’ in his or her own life. Regardless, the book in of itself is still a wealth of information and a wonderful resource for those seeking to impact the world for Christ and not burnout doing it.
Favorite Quotes –
“Sometimes ministry positions and ministry tasks hurry us past ministry opportunities.”
“Near the end of his life, author Henri Nouwen said, ‘My whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly being interrupted, until I discovered the interruptions were my work.’ “
“What if, instead of a road map, God is offering to be my guide? What if I let him decide where we are going?… He [God] would prefer to guide me as my companion for the journey rather than hand me directions that I’d be tempted to run off with, leaving him in the dust.”
Personal Take away-
Personally, this book helped me realize the internal stress and clock I seem to have should not dictate my actions. This book helped me realize that I have an internal hurry that has no purpose. Sometimes, I’ll stop myself in the middle of what I’m doing and ask myself, ‘Chase, why are you feeling rushed?’ and 95% of the time my response is the same: I. don’t. know.
Moving forward, I will recognize that I have more than enough time to complete the tasks Christ has given me to accomplish; He wouldn’t ask me to do something and then not provide an adequate amount of time to do it in. I will make time for rest, and choose to live and unhurried life, because after all, it is totally a choice.
Who is this book for?
This book is for those like me who struggle with an internal ticking clock, for those who seem hurried, and don’t quite know why. I would recommend this book for ‘speed addicts’ who are moving very quickly and beginning to wonder if what they are doing is having an impact. I would not recommend this book to someone who is hoping for a practical resource to teach him or her how to rest or establish a Sabbath. This book does discuss this, but I would say it only skims the subject.
Why you should read this book and not just the review –
You should read the book and not just this review, because Fadling lays an impressive groundwork for slowing your life down, thus making your life more impactful for the Kingdom. Alan Fadling invested a wealth of wisdom into this book that he accumulated over a lifetime of ministry failure and success. This book is definitely worth your read. Beware, however, the book does not necessarily stay on topic throughout. All of Fadling’s thoughts and insights are fantastic, yet there are times when he takes the reader on detours to explain other important topics not directly related to an unhurried life. All things considered, I would say this book is well worth your time.