All You Need Is Love
When I launched this series at our church, I knew I would be hitting some sensitive, raw nerves. The guilt and shame associated with pushing hard, passing your spouse like a ship in the night, and not giving your family the attention you know they need is a tough thing to face. I knew that “lecturing” these highly educated, professional people would not produce positive results. They may have the same basic needs as the rest of us, but the perceived pressure and demands of the high-tech world is like watching busyness on steroids.
So as people filed into the worship center, the worship team played the classic Beatles song “All You Need Is Love.” No words, no singing, just an instrumental version that had everyone’s toes tapping and boomers mouthing the words. The service would start in a few minutes, but I wanted to plant the idea in people’s minds even before we started that “all you need is love.”
You see, much of being driven, overextended, and always on an insane schedule is rooted in just the opposite of that song title. In fact, there’s a dance that goes by many names all over the world that explains our spiritual and physical exhaustion and emotional fatigue. I call it the Silicon Valley Shuffle because that’s where I live, but this dance is done in various forms from Omaha to Hong Kong. Regardless of the name you choose, there are four steps to this dance that accelerate in rhythm and beat with every measure. See if you can recognize these steps: bigger, better, faster, more.
Four Words that Define Our Mind-Set
These four words drive our lives, our schedules, our relationships, and even our souls. They define the American mind-set. Our competitive businesses want to do things bigger, better, faster, and in greater quantity than their rivals. Our competitive job market prompts us to put in a few more hours and then a few more on top of that, because if we don’t . . . well, anyone can be replaced. And our consumer wants and needs drive us in the same direction. We’re never quite content with the status quo, so we’re constantly looking to acquire whatever is bigger, better, faster, and more. That’s how marketers appeal to us as consumers, and that’s how we survive in this competitive culture as innovators, entrepreneurs, and difference makers. We’re cutting-edge people in a world of opportunity.
Unfortunately, this mind-set spills over into our families too. If our kids are going to be really good at whatever we think they should be good at, then we’ve got to start them early. So we have three-year-olds playing in soccer leagues and sixth graders working with tutors to prepare for the SATs so they can get into the right college. The opportunities in our society are great, but the pressure and demand to take advantage of these opportunities—as many as possible—are overwhelming. We’re constantly feeling pushed to be every- thing, do everything, and have everything; and as a result we live in a continual state of fatigue.
Are We Dancing Ourselves to Death?
Our attempts to “be it all,” “do it all,” and “have it all” have created a complex world that:
1. moves too fast
2. delivers too little
3. demands too much
We don’t actually say we have to be it all, do it all, and have it all, of course. We may not even be conscious that we’re chasing after these things. But our actions certainly reflect that pulsating drive. And when we do this dance—intentionally or not—we create a very complex world for ourselves. It’s a world that moves too fast, delivers too little, and demands too much. Think about that:
It moves too fast. Haven’t you ever wished the clock would just stop so you could catch up on your work—or maybe just catch your breath? Do your days and weeks fly by and leave you in the dust? Have you ever wanted to jump off the merry-go-round of demands and activities but can’t because it won’t stop spinning? Those are very real symptoms that your world is moving too fast.
It delivers too little. Have you ever felt like you’re pouring out more than you’re taking in? That you’re spinning your wheels? That the results of all your efforts are high activity but low relational connectivity? In quiet moments, does life feel disappointing and leaving you pretty unsatisfied? Those are symptoms that your world isn’t delivering on its promises.