Book Review: An Unhurried Life

It seems odd to do a review on this book now, considering I've already used it on several other posts. However, I felt the book needed a full treatment here. unhurriedlife_smAlan Fadling, executive director of The Journey, is focused on training Christian leaders to integrate spiritual formation and leadership development. The rich and holy nature of this book hit me at the right time, as I prepare to teach a class at Lincoln Christian University on "Theology of Service and Sabbath" and as I think through how Parkview helps our staff and leaders to be formed inwardly to serve outwardly.

He begins the book with a beautiful statement on the challenge of helping others down the long and winding road of discipleship:

Since it's hard to patiently work with people long enough that they become deeply rooted followers of Jesus, we too often settle for helping them learn more information rather than focusing on the long, hard work of equipping them to follow Jesus. Such "growth is easier to quantify. (30)

Fadling's book naturally and easily balances what it means to lead with what it means to be lead by Jesus in the pathways of discipleship, and that balance is needed and helpful in the local church. He insists that we must begin to walk at the pace of God, that to try and outrun and outperform (this is the darker issue) where God is leading us is a dangerous habit. Any book or story you have read on leadership burnout likely has a combination of out-of-focus spirituality and self-driven leadership and Fadling's writing helps to put both of those issues in focus.

The chapter on "Temptation" is one that many of us (and yes, I include "me" in that "us") need to read and re-read throughout the course of ministry. The tight wire stretched between what we are compelled to do and what we should do is stretched tighter when we are put to stress and deadlines, and temptation finds cracks in our foundation when we're strung so tightly. In Fadling's words,

"Temptation seeks to shrink the time between impulse and action. (Compulsive and addictive living allows no time between impulse and action.)" (63)

I instantly saw re-runs of my decisions in light of this quote, and needed to take a step back and reflect on temptation's role in my life right now.

If there is a weakness in the book, it is the weakness of all books - there is more I'd like to see the author address. Many of the issues I face in my role as spiritual formation pastor have to do with helping people find moments of rest and holiness in the midst of everyday schedules, and while the book did not specifically address that (the chapter "Spiritual Practices for Unhurrying" was brilliant, however) a follow up phone call with Alan was a great asset to me and I appreciated the author's giving time to help me process the next steps from the book.

I recommend this book if you find you are ragged at the edges, running far ahead of God's Spirit and leadership, and entering into darkness of both heart and behavior. If you read that last sentence and have no idea why that would be a problem, then I don't recommend the book to you - I IMPLORE YOU TO READ IT.