Charles Stone: Hurry Marginalizes Our Values

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Take notice, you senseless ones among the people; you fools, when will you become wise? Psalm 94:8

“Forty seminary students volunteered for a study at Princeton University. The instructors, who were the researchers in the experiment, explained to each student that their assignment was about religious education and vocation. Each participant would first complete a questionnaire and then walk to another building for further instructions.

Once there, each participant receive their assignment. Some were asked to prepare a talk on seminary jobs, while others were asked to prepare a talk on the parable of the Good Samaritan. Each participant was then instructed to go to another building to give their talk. Some were told to hurry to avoid being late.

Unbeknownst to the participants, however, the researchers had placed an actor, who was part of the experiment, in a courtyard that each student had to pass through on their way to the other building. He was slumped over and moaning in pain, obviously needing help.

What factor made the biggest difference in whether or not the student stopped to help? The result surprised the researchers. The subject of their talk did not influence whether or not a student stopped to help the person in need. Even those who were prepared to talk on the Good Samaritan were no more likely to stop and help than the ones who prepared a talk on seminary jobs. The common factor? Hurry.

Those who were in less of a rush stopped more often than those who had been told to hurry. Hurry influenced the frequency with which the students noticed the person in need. Hurry had marginalized their values in the moment.

The experiment reminds us that when we rush through life to get to the next better moment, we often fail to notice God’s prompting to act with Christ-centered compassion toward others. Holy noticing, however, trains us to be more present in each moment and more mindful of Jesus and the needs of others.”

Charles Stone in Holy Noticing: The Bible, Your Brain, and the Mindful Space Between Moments (Chicago: Moody, 2019) 163-164. Special thanks to my wife, Jenni, who is reading this book and encouraged me to check it out!

Do you have a full schedule today? My plate sure is full too.

Holy noticing, which is the opposite of hurry, has less to do with whether or not we have a lot to do today and more to do with whether or not we are attuned to what is happening around us along the way.

While Jesus did not have a place to lay his head and had a crazy schedule for three years of ministry, He noticed people. He heard the cries of the blind and lame. He made margin to meet hurting people.

Will we take notice of what is happening and be ready to share generously our time or resources with those in need around us? Or will we be in a hurry and ignore the needs crying out for help?

This relates not just to a person on a street corner, but the co-worker who may appear discouraged or the neighbor whom you have not seen in a few weeks. It’s the person we see repeatedly at the check-out counter.

Let’s start by learning the names of these people and pausing to ask how they are doing. Let’s do this because, sadly, hurry marginalizes our values; whereas, holy noticing reveals our Christian faith to a hurting world.

Father, show me by your Holy Spirit where hurry must be replaced by holy noticing. Hear my prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.