Examining a Hurried LifestyleDecember 3, 2008
Learn the seven characteristics that indicate your family lives a hurried lifestyle. Little House on the Freeway author Tim Kimmel tells you what to look for and how to make time for rest.
Learn the seven characteristics that indicate your family lives a hurried lifestyle. Little House on the Freeway author Tim Kimmel tells you what to look for and how to make time for rest.
Examining a Hurried Lifestyle
Bob: Tim Kimmel remembers the day, as a boy, when the snowstorm hit on a Sunday afternoon. That affected church that night and school the next day – life slowed down, and the Kimmels had a blast.
Tim: Sure enough, they started calling around about 4:00, and they had to cancel church. You couldn't go out, anyway. Dad put on his winter clothes, went down to a general store, and he bought potato chips and Coca-Cola – that was a luxury item – brought that home, we turned on the television, and it's the only time in my childhood I ever watched "The Wonderful World of Disney."
"Maverick" – never saw it before. And Mom got out a puzzle and, of course, we drank all that Coca-Cola, so we were wired. They let us stay up because they knew school was cancelled, and we had a phenomenal, wonderful time, and we had to cancel church to pull it off.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, December 3rd. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Maybe we shouldn't have to wait for the next big snowstorm to bring some margin back into our lives and have some fun. We'll talk about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. You know, you think back 20 years ago, it seems like those were …
Dennis: It makes me tired.
To think of all the life we lived raising six children to adulthood.
Bob: In general, wouldn't you say we are all trying to cram more stuff into the same amount of hours that we've always had than we ever have before?
Dennis: I think we are. I think we're activity junkies. I think we're addicts to activity, especially in this culture, and I'm going to tell you something, it feeds the addiction.
Bob: Well, I bring up the 20-year thing because our guest today wrote a book about pace of life 20 years ago, and it was a classic back then. It's just been revised, expanded, and updated, and it's a book that I think our culture needs more than ever.
Dennis: There are books that are going to be relevant for a long time, and this is one of them. The book is "Little House on the Freeway," and instantly a bunch of people know that Tim Kimmel wrote that book. Tim, welcome to broadcast.
Tim: Hey, thanks, guys. Glad to be here with you.
Dennis: Tim has been on our broadcast a number of times. He is the Executive Director of Family Matters, which is equipping families for every age at every life stage. And he and his wife, Darcy, speak at our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences all around the country, and, yeah, he did write this back in 1987. And I thought the same thing you thought, Bob, and I'm wondering, for you, Tim – you raised four children.
Dennis: The pace, you think back then, was a whole lot different than it is now?
Tim: I think the difference is back then we were just going at, like, Mach 2 with our hair on fire, and now it's just a blur, and you have no idea how to record the speed at which we live our lives.
Dennis: So it's Mach 3 or Mach 4 today?
Tim: Easily. What I noticed back then, there were just a lot of people that were hurried, what I think. To me, it's like the hurried lifestyle on crack today. It's way off the charts.
Dennis: You describe seven indicators that a family can be hurried. Just quickly run through those, and what I want to ask you to do is pick a couple of them and tell me which ones you think today are really where couples are stumbling most?
Tim: Well, one of the first marks of a hurried family is you can't relax. I don't mean you don't relax, you can't even when you try, because when you relax, you start to feel guilty. You see, we've been so programmed to think that if we're not accomplishing a lot and knocking things off a checklist that we're irrelevant; we're not making a difference.
Bob: You take an afternoon, you grab a book, and you just sit on the back porch and read, and you go, "I shouldn't be doing this, because I've got other stuff I should be doing," right?
Tim: Exactly. You see, Satan figured out that he doesn't have to make any of us Jesus followers bad, he just has to make us too busy, and he can net out the exact same impact, which is he steals our joy.
And so I see a lot of families whose joy is stolen because they can't relax. The second one is they can't enjoy quiet. We're so conditioned to background noise and cable television on and so forth that when we actually get quiet, we start to have withdrawal symptoms. You take kids off to camp, and they've got their iPods on and so forth, and they say, "We’ll take those from you, and we'll give them back when camp is over." They're out in the woods, and they start to – "What was that?" "Well, that's a squirrel. That's a sound the squirrel makes in the tree." It's like they're coming off of some kind of narcotic.
Beside they can't relax, can't enjoy quiet, they're never satisfied, and that's part of our consumption-oriented culture that no matter what you have, you can always have something more. Things become obsolete fast. And then an absence of absolutes, the fact that we have more of a relative view of right and wrong and truth and boundaries, that messes everybody up.
Bob: How does that affect being hurried, though?
Tim: Because you don't know when to say no to a lot of the demands on your time …
Tim: … a lot of demands on your tastes, and so the next thing you know, because you're not guided by a moral compass, you get off course, and it gets a hook in you.
Dennis: Putting it another way, the loss of convictions today for families end up turning them into obeying everybody and everything, and they don't know what their own family values are all about, therefore they don't know what to say yes to and what to say no to.
Bob: So you're saying the pace of the culture and what's going on all around you is influencing your decision-making more than core convictions about life and what's true and what's right.
Tim: Well, you really see this in two major areas when it comes to parenting. It would be academics and academic achievement and then sports – over-commitment in sports. Because for a lot of these kids, their childhood has been stolen from them. There is no such thing for them as childhood – it's performance.
Bob: And neither of those two things are wrong or bad.
Tim: No, not at all. My kids did well in school, and they played sports, and we all see that – but it's just that we've turned sports from something fun to do and all into some kind of defining factor of whether you have a chance in the future, and we turn Little League into major league baseball, it's ridiculous.
And then academics, they've – the hurried lifestyle has tied a cause/effect between academic performance and success in the future, which, by the way, is hogwash, it's absolute hogwash. There is nothing that says that if you do well academically, you're necessarily going to be successful in the future, or if you struggle academically you can't be successful.
But we buy into that, the next thing you know we ramp up a very complicated life, a joyless life, a frustrating life. And then another one that I see a lot of is inordinate fear and worry. There's a lot of fear-based parenting going on, and there's going to be moreso if you don't get clear boundaries when it comes to how – the pace of your life.
And then the last one is that I see people that are world-class over-achievers.
Dennis: Is that out of insecurity?
Tim: Absolutely. In fact, I actually skipped one, and it's part of insecurity, and you see people that do good things but they do them for wrong reasons. Like, they are very – they are over-committed servants. And you can see this in the church a lot of times, and these people, they have no margin in their life, no rest in their life, no fun in their life.
Dennis: In your book, you call them "righteous addicts."
Tim: They are.
Dennis: That's interesting. There are some who are listening to us going, "Now, wait a second."
Bob: Yeah, how can that be wrong – to pursue righteousness? But you're saying you can pursue it at such a speed, at such a pace, that you leave no Sabbath for yourself.
Tim: That's right. And what causes me to do that, many times, is at the core – what you guys addressed – at the core of my being, I don't have a clear understanding of who I am in the Lord and what I'm living my life for. So I do these good things, but I'm doing them for wrong reasons – maybe to get approval, to do penance out of guilt – boy, talking about not only stealing our joy but wrecking our kids and many times at the hands of something that would be good.
Dennis: Tim, you just ran through seven of them, and I ask you – are there a couple of them that, really, you think are the biggest stumbling blocks to young families today who are attempting to hammer out their Christian values with their children and create a family that's together?
Tim: Boy, it's hard to choose of the top two, but I'm going to say the absence of absolutes.
Dennis: I would agree with you on that, by the way.
Tim: On moral absolutes, and then inordinate fear and worry, where they are allowing – they're looking at life through eyes that are intimidated, and so they get – they're afraid – I mean, I hear Christian families, they're afraid of Hollywood, and they're afraid of the Internet, and they're afraid of the school system and neighbors, and so forth, and the problem with that is we're supposed to be walking by faith with confidence in the God of the universe.
And so, yeah, I'm not saying that there isn't clear and present danger in our culture, there certainly is, but there's something that trumps it, and that is the power and presence of God working in our life, and so obviously if they've put Him in a secondary position, they're going to be intimidated by this, and it makes them basically – it puts them at the mercy of all the bad elements out there.
Bob: You know, you take these seven factors that you've just gone through for us, and you mix in the fact that we live in what I would call the "age of instant." I was, the other day, just driving along, and somebody called me on my cell phone for something that they needed, and it dawned on me that we live in an age where if you have any information need, you expect that you should be able to get it instantly, and if somebody is on an airplane and can't get to their cell phone, we get annoyed that they're out of touch; that they're not able to be communicated with because the expectation is that you are available at all times anytime for anything, and that I should be able to communicate with you. It's the age of instant, and if you're not instant, you're irrelevant.
Tim: Well, I remember, parents would get upset when their kids wouldn't be home by midnight, you know, if that was curfew. And so we'd be trying to counsel them on that. Well, now they're upset if they don't text them back immediately of where they are at this particular point – at 8:00 on Saturday night. See how this has held us hostage here?
You can't even send your kids on out there and say "Midnight you better be in," and then pray for them like made that they'll make some good choices and learn life. No, no, no. Helicopter parenting is all part of this stuff.
Bob: As we talk about this, I'm thinking about my friend who is a doctor who has weekends when he's on call, which means at any time that anybody needs him, he has to be available. Well, all of us are now on call to our friends or to our employers or to whomever. We live life seven days a week, 365 days a year, on call. You can't go relax because you never know when the cell phone is going to ring or the text message is going to come or somebody is going to press into you for something.
Dennis: You have to have your own convictions that enable you to break that electronic tether, because if you let everybody else do it, they'll establish the priorities for your marriage and your family.
Tim: Absolutely. Well, two things, and I added a chapter to the book called "Little House on the Internet," and we talk about how the media and all of this new technology is absolutely running our life, and then I go through the six non-negotiables for rest and calm that we can maintain no matter what's going on around us.
Dennis: You know, Tim, as you were talking and, Bob, as you were making the point, too – these seven points would really make a good test for a couple to sit down separately and to look at all seven of these and see just how hurried are we? And so we're going to devise, with your permission, taking these seven from your book, "Little House on the Freeway," we're going to put together a test made of these seven indicators of how a person or how a couple know that they're driven and they're living life on the freeway, and let them evaluate on a 1- to 5-point scale just how driven are we?
And what I'd encourage couples to do is the husband or the father take the test and then the wife take the test in different rooms separated by each other, write your own score down, then get together and compare – just compare how you think your family is doing and then talk about what are we going to do about this, and that's where we get back to the practical aspect of what we're talking about here.
Bob: But nobody's going to do this because they don't have time to download and take your test.
Dennis: You can do this in less than 90 seconds, how's that for a promise? Tim, you actually experienced a time in your own family, growing up, that you look back with such delight, and it's interesting, I fell right in the middle of this as I was reading this in your book.
Tim: Yeah, someone asked me to recall one of the greatest moments I had with my family, and I was from a family of six kids – five boys, one girl. We lived out in the country in Pennsylvania, and it was a Sunday. On Sundays, you always went to church. We went to church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night. I had a drug problem when I was a kid – I was "drug" to church every Sunday morning and Sunday night.
Well, that particular Sunday morning it started to snow during the service, and it was coming down – the big flakes, and the pastor even stopped and said, "Boy, if this keeps up, and it drifts, we may not be able to have church tonight." Of course, all of us kids are going "YES!"
Anyway, sure enough, they started calling around about 4:00, and they had to cancel church. You couldn't go out, anyway. Dad put on his winter clothes, went down to a general store not far from us, the people lived up above, and he bought potato chips and all the stuff to make potato chip dip, and Coca-Cola. We didn't have Coca-Cola sitting in the pantry and all as a kid. That was a luxury item – brought that home, and we turned on the television, and it's the only time in my childhood I ever watched "The Wonderful World of Disney."
Bob: Six o'clock on Sunday night, right.
Tim: We watched Disney – never saw it before – we watched "Maverick" – never saw it before. I've only seen one …
Dennis: … episode.
Tim: And Mom got out a puzzle, and we played – and, of course, we drank all that Coca-Cola, so we were wired. They let us stay up because they knew school was canceled, and we had a phenomenal, wonderful time, and we had to cancel to pull it off. Because, see, even our busy-ness as Christians and Jesus followers and going to church, can, many times, not leave any time for the things that matter deeply.
Bob: Okay, you're going to get us in trouble here.
Bob: You're saying – are you saying there's too much church going on?
Tim: Yes. In fact, I give the list in the book of how we are lured into the hurried lifestyle. Our culture values it, and we can see how that would happen. Business rewards it – we'll pay you more money if you're willing to be hurried. Media exploits it, they just put it up there as this is the way you live your life. And then our egos demand it. But here is the other one – sometimes our churches encourage it. Sometimes they do.
You know, bless their hearts, the smaller churches, they have to offer all the same services that the big churches do, and so you come in, and all you have to have in some churches is a pulse, and you're in charge of the Sunday school program, and you're a deacon or whatever. And I serve in church, you guys do, and we know there's a place for that. But God never meant for us to sacrifice our sense of calm and joy to do His bidding. He says, "I'm bigger than that. We don't need to sacrifice you like that." But it happens.
Dennis: You know, I wonder if today if church is as big a problem as it was when we were growing up, Tim, because I was "drug" – I was "drug" to church as well back then.
Bob: Sunday morning, Sunday night.
Tim: He had a "drug" problem.
Dennis: Yeah, and today there aren't a lot of churches that have Sunday night service.
Tim: That's right.
Dennis: But it doesn't mean we can't get pulled off into many good things that end up competing with our families, and it may not just be the church, it may be ministry, it may be good things competing, good activity. The point I hear you saying is, as parents and as the ones who need to be shaping the environment and the internal culture of a family – we need to protect ruthlessly our marriages and our families and our children to make sure we are being successful to build the biblical values that God has given us into the lives of our children, because if we don't, the world will, and if we don't know what that is, a lot of ministries, churches, et cetera, will take the place of the family and take some of your best hours of the week.
Bob: Okay, so let me ask you this – yeah, we're hurried, things are going fast, but some folks who are listening are going, "Look, that's just the way life is in this millennium, and we're doing okay. We're a 75-mile-an-hour interstate freeway family. Everybody is getting where they need to go. Yeah, we're busy, we're tired, but we're getting along okay, and we're getting a lot of life squeezed in. Is there a problem?
Tim: Can be, long term. The whole point of "Little House on the Freeway," is that you can still be current, be online, be text messaging. You can do all the stuff that's out there, but you don't have to lose your sense of calm and joy along the way. Jesus was a very busy person. He had hurried life imposed upon Him, and He was under incredible duress and stress, and yet He maintained calm through the whole thing, because there were things that He was doing specifically all the way through, and that's what I studied, and that's what this book is about – is those things that He did that helped Him maintain it.
Bob: And, you know, I think back, Dennis, to an interview we did almost two years ago now when we sat down with Tommy Nelson. You know, Tommy is pastor at Denton Bible Church, and he was blowing and going in ministry and was busy and had a lot going on, very rewarding, very fulfilling, and yet it all crashed around him one day when his body kind of said, "Okay, we've been taxed long enough. We're shutting down," and he fell into depression and had what, in the old days, you'd have called a "breakdown," and I guess that's part of the caution here is you can be blowing and going and think everything is okay, but what you don't realize, if you've not left any room for peace, for calm, for margin, you could be headed right into a brick wall.
Dennis: And I'd have to say I thank God for a wife who believed in two things – she believed in the Sabbath and protecting our Sundays from the same pace and the same kind of activity the other six days had.
The other thing she believed in was a date that we had on Sunday night. We didn't have church on Sunday night at our church, and we had a date night, and I am convinced the reason we were able to raise six children through what was for us a packed schedule with lots of demands, was because we got away on a Sunday night, and we'd pull out the calendar.
Bob's smiling – he's heard me talk about this so many times, but I'm going to tell you something, it was our sanity.
Bob: Your wife knew how to slow the roadrunner down, didn't she?
Dennis: She knew how to slow it down, and she would demand process, she would demand priority, she'd talk about the schedule now, the schedule next week.
Bob: Whoa, Nellie! She's just pulled back on the reins.
Dennis: And, usually, the way it happens in a marriage and a family is one fast-paced person marries one who is slower paced.
Bob: Well, maybe some slow-paced people need to get a copy of your book – or some fast-paced people need to get a copy of the book, "Little House on the Freeway."
Dennis: Yeah, don't just sell it to the fast-paced people. Sometimes the slow-paced people can slow the thing down.
Bob: They can read it because they're slower paced – they use a highlighter, and they can say, "Here, you need to read this," and maybe put the brakes on the rest of life for you. We've got copies of Tim's book in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and you can go to our website, FamilyLife.com. By the way, the book has been revised and updated and, again, you'll find it at FamilyLife.com.
When you get to our home page, on the right side of the screen, you'll see a box that says "Today's Broadcast." Click where it says "Learn More," and that will take you to an area of the site where you can find out more about the book, "Little House on the Freeway," by Dr. Tim Kimmel.
There is also a DVD series you've put together called "The Hurried Family" that is available for churches or for small group use, and we've got a link on our website to where folks can get more information about "The Hurried Family" DVD series. Again, go to FamilyLife.com, click on the right side of the screen where it says "Today's Broadcast," and there is more information about the resources that are available there or call us at 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and someone on our team can make arrangements to get any of these resources out to you.
By the way, we had a lot of people call in earlier this week to find out more about your wife's book, "When Christmas Came," and our interactive Nativity Scene, "What God Wants for Christmas." Those are still available in our FamilyLife Resource Center as well, so if folks are looking for more information about Barbara's new book, "When Christmas Came," or the FamilyLife interactive Nativity set, "What God Wants for Christmas." There is information on the website at FamilyLife.com or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY.
And when you do get in touch with us, if you are able to help us with a year-end donation, we would really appreciate your financial support. In fact, we've had some friends in the ministry who have come to us recently, and they have offered to match every donation we receive during the month of December on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to a total of $425,000, and we are hoping to take full advantage of this matching gift opportunity. We know it has been a tough year for a lot of family, for a lot of businesses, it's been a tough year for a lot of ministries like ours. But if you are able to help with a donation during the month of December, we would appreciate it and, again, your donation is going to be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to a total of $425,000, and we really hope that our listeners will help us take full advantage of this matching gift opportunity.
Dennis: Bob, as you know, the vision of FamilyLife is every home a godly home, and that begins with the listener's home. We are here every day coming alongside you, equipping you with biblical truth in your marriage, in your relationships with your children, we are here to encourage you with your family, and we are also here about helping you make wise decisions about life – all going back to the biblical blueprints.
And you know what? If you agree with that approach, then here at year-end, there is no better time than right now to pick up a phone and call 1-800-FLTODAY or go online at FamilyLife.com and to say, "You know what? I stand with you guys. I believe in what you're doing, and I want to make a financial gift to your ministry." And, frankly, I just need you to know, I need you to stand with me here at year-end.
Bob: You can go to our website, FamilyLife.com, and make a donation online, or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY and make your donation over the phone and, again, we appreciate your partnership with us and want to say thanks in advance for helping to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
Now, tomorrow we're going to talk more about how we slow things down in the pace of life; how we can ratchet our schedule back a little bit. Tim Kimmel is going to be with us again tomorrow. I hope you can be back with us as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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