Are you always hustling? Are you chasing “better” hoping some day you’ll reach it by getting a “better” body or a “better” house or a “better” job. Maybe you dream of making your marriage “better” or are just constantly on the treadmill of self-improvement. Whatever it is — our culture tells us we need to be hustling. Hustling is the way to get ahead. In this two part series, author and speaker Heather Creekmore talks about how hustling may not always be the best way to accomplish our dreams and may distract us from hearing the voice of God. Check the episodes out here or look for full options to listen here or read the transcript below.
Hush the Hustle Transcript
This morning as I was riding my spin bike I thought about the term “hustle.” It seems like in the last 5 years or so, hustle has become the buzz word – We’re hustling to grow our businesses, change our bodies, make more money – you name it – the key, it seems to living your dreams – is to hustle. Those who work hardest and fastest (or smartest ) succeed – they win the race! They “Live their best lives” and feel some sort of euphoria for accomplishing everything they’ve ever dreamed of.
Is this the hype you’ve bought into? I know I have? I’ve looked at those hustling and thought – I just need to work harder. I’ve bought the courses, paid for the instructional downloads, I’ve tried all their tips and thought that maybe if I could just apply everything perfectly then my life would fall neatly into place – and become a symphony of perfection.
So, as I sat on the spin bike this morning – riding in place – in my bedroom – moving my legs but not getting anywhere- What was worse is my fitbit that I wear when I exercise so I can monitor my heart rate sometimes doesn’t register any exercise until I’ve been doing it for a certain amount of time. So, there I sat on the spin bike, riding and riding – not getting anywere and looking at my fit bit which was telling me I’d exercised for ZERO minutes and I started thinking about how hilarious the whole thing was. I was working really hard – but according to all visible measures – I wasn’t getting anywhere.
I thought about all the years I’ve spent hustling.
Friends, I was hustling before hustling was a “thing” – I spent my twenties hustling in politics – trying to get better jobs and prove myself I my career. I also spent that time hustling to get a better body because I believe that unless I got a better body I’d never get married – and then as I got into my thirties and my career settled more into place I got married and started hustling to be the best wife – I read all the books and incessantly bugged my husband about ways that our marriage needed to improve – immediately – Then we had a baby and again I read all the books. I read Baby Wise and I tell you, I know some of you are going to say it worked for you and you swear by it –but for me – it was the worst thing ever. My firstborn is now almost thirteen years old and I have 3 other children but I still consider babywise my biggest parenting regret. I wanted to do the book perfectly and considered it a manual for exactly how to function with a baby – and when my baby didn’t cooperate because he had reflux and because I overfed him – because I had no idea what I was doing as a brand new mom—I spent a lot of time in frustration – and so did he – he actually started head banging – banging his head against the mattress – he was so frustrated – and that’s when I decided to quit Babywise and try a different approach. But, let me tell you friends – that other approach felt scary – because I didn’t have a manual for it! Trusting my instincts and not following the pattern of a book? That was a very daunting thing to do.
Candidly, it didn’t feel like hustling. It felt like I was losing because here I had the prescription on how to raise a baby and I couldn’t follow it.
And, isn’t that what happens when we try to hustle friends? We try to follow someone else’s prescription. Here’s what worked for me and now I want you to try it and it’ll work for you . . .
I received an email today encouraging me to listen to podcast by “America’s power couple” — the email said they’d give me great advice on how to live my best life and be super successful. And the couple are supposed to be Christians but I can’t help but feel like they want me to follow them instead of follow Jesus.
And there is SOME value to following someone else’s example, for sure. I want to learn from people who have been successful. I want to share my story with you so you will learn from my mistakes and my successes in order to enrich your life.
But, where we get stuck is when we watch someone else’s hustle and we think it’ll look the same way for us when we try it and it doesn’t. Then we can feel discouragement and overwhelmed, maybe even depressed because we did ALL THE THINGS and we’re still stuck with the same life we had before.
When we start chasing someone else’s dream – when we start trying to emulate someone else’s hustle – we can find ourselves entrenched in idolatry.
We take what could be a good thing even – a good plan to get yourself organized or get your body healthier – and we make it an ultimate thing – we make it a thing that matters too much to our identity or our livelihood or our joy – and we make it an idol.
Now there’s a slight exception to this. In 1 Corinthians 11 Paul says to do what he does because he’s doing what Jesus does. We’re supposed to emulate Christ and if there are people in your life that are following hard after Jesus then I recommend that you learn from their modeling and do as they do.
But, remember—a lot of Paul’s followers had to suffer just like Paul did. Paul’s followers saw what happened to Paul—that he got put in prison, beaten sometimes – and they kept following him. They saw Paul model some of what Jesus endured and they kept pressing hard after Christ.
So here’s a hard question for you today: If that person you’re following started suffering for their faith – would you still be following them?
Would you be pressing like on every Instagram post if their life turned into struggle after struggle because they were following Jesus? Or, would you prefer to find someone else who was “living their best life now” to follow?
Ouch! That’s a hard question right? Because if I’m honest I’d have to say that I’d much rather follow the people who seem to do be doing everything quote/unquote “right” and there lives are working well.
Isn’t that why we hustle in the first place? We hustle so our lives will be BETTER not so we can struggle more.
So, if you’ve been hustling – trying your best but stuck on a spin bike, riding in place and not feeling like you’re getting anywhere – today I want to give you some encouragement as to how you can hush the hustle. How you can get a grip on the drive to be better, do better . . .and release the burden of better. We’ll dig into the first of the three ways you can hush the hustle.
1)Look at what you’re measuring
Is the way you measure your life as successful or unsuccessful the same way God would measure your life? If it’s not, friend, that I’d encourage you to examine your life for idols. If the way you’re measuring success is by the same standards that anyone who doesn’t know and follow Jesus would use –then I think you’ve lost track of what’s important.
Don’t hear any condemnation in that, please. It happens to all of us, myself included. I have to regularly stop and do an “idol check” and ask myself why “this number” or “this thing” matters so much.
What I find everytime is that when idolatry is driving me – when an idolatrous desire is what is making me want to hustle harder and faster – I become like I was on my spin bike this morning. My heart rate is up. I’m working so hard, riding so fast, but I’m not getting anywhere. And, when my desires are idolatrous – I can’t stop. It’s never enough. I want more, need more, must work harder, faster, longer.
Friends this happens to me in a lot of areas of my life. It can happen to me when I start a new workout regiment. I am all in. I’m going to get in shape – and what happens is I work out TOO hard for my age and my body’s physical state – for like a week. Then, I’m so worn out I have to take the next few weeks off, and ultimately, instead of beginning a healthy exercise routine I’ve just started the next round in a cycle of exercise starts and stops.
Instead, if I could take the long term view of exercise and health – what I should do is just start slowly. Workout for 20 minutes at an easier pace so that I can do it again tomorrow, and the next day. In this way I start something sustainable, I begin a habit I can keep up with.
Body Image idolatry tells me I need to get in shape now, FAST. I can’t wait. I’ve gotta work crazy hard now to make it happen. When I’m free from the idolatrous drive – then I can say, “You know what, it would be great for me to be in better shape so I can keep up with my kids and have more energy – I’m going to work at this a little bit each day and I know in the next few months or years, if I’m consistent, I’ll be able to see results.”
Can you see the difference in these two approaches?
So, point one, again, is to check how you’re measuring success. If you want to hush the hustle – find the idol and ask God to help you destroy it. Idols don’t ever let us get to our destination. They hold a carrot on a stick out in front of us and like a hungry horse, we keep running after it, never to actually be able to enjoy the carrot.
When you try to HUSH the hustle notice WHAT you’re measuring, HOW you’re measuring it, and what it does to your soul. Maybe you’ve broken up with your scale and you’re feeling freedom from measuring yourself by that number—but now you’re trying to grow a business and you’re measuring your worth by the number of online followers you have.
Or, maybe you feel free from defining success by your job title or salary –but you’re struggling not to look at yourself in the mirror and feel like you would be better off if you were a size or two smaller.
All of these measures, friend, have a root of idolatry. And, each of them will keep you hustling after results that won’t last.
In my morning Bible reading this week I was reading in Deuteronomy chapter 30 – and I’ll be honest with you friends –if you’re doing a reading plan it can be kind of hard to get through books like Numbers and Deuteronomy –but today I read Moses instructions for the Israelites – God actually gave the Israelite people a prescription of how they could be blessed – which for those of us who like things to be black and white –this is awesome, right?
God laid out a “do this” and you’ll be blessed. This is a Hustler’s dream –right – a prescription – a to do list of what you have to do to get good results. I mean, that’s better than hustling even because you can hustle your tail off and still not get the results you want – but God is giving them on better –a promise – do this and I’ll do that. In this passage God first talks about circumsicing the people’s hearts –getting rid of all sin and evil – and he talks about how if they’ll turn from evil – he’ll take care of their enemies. Then he says the following. Let’s read it together in the Amplified starting in verse 8:
And you shall again listen to and obey the voice of the Lord, and do all His commandments which I command you today. 9 Then the Lord your God shall make you abundantly prosperous in [b]everything that you do, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your land; for the Lord will again delight over you for good, just as He delighted over your fathers, 10 if you listen to and obeythe voice of the Lord your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul (your entire being).
Then, I love how this passage continues with a look at God’s grace –where God then tells the people – Hey –it’s not too hard – you can do it. Look at verse 11
11 “For this commandment which I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it [c]out of reach. 12 It is not [a secret hidden] in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us and bring it to us, so that we may hear it and obey it?’ 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us and bring it to us, so that we may hear it and obey it?’ 14 But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, so that you may obey it.
We hustle after wisdom from people when God tells us his word is always with us – Jesus is near and we have the freedom and option – especially here in the U.S. – The advice, wisdom we need is from God and his word – The way we need to be hustling is after more of Him – and when we hustle that way – we’re never disappointed – we always make progress – we always feel better. But, too often we trade hustling after our goals, our ideals, or our idols for hustling after God and his word.
Stay tuned for part 2 of how to Hush The Hustle where we’ll talk about how to find true rest and I’ll give you more strategies for hushing the hustle.
Hustle – hear that word everywhere now – seeing commercials for a new movie called “Hustlers” which further entrenches this concept of “hustling” as success into our brains. Here are two more ways to Hush the Hustle and find peace.
2) Hush the hustle by taking the long view.
So many of you may know the story of the tortoise and the hare. If you don’t – the speedy rabbit raced the slow turtle and the slow turtle actually ends up winning. It’s an Aesop Fable that’s supposed to encourage us to take the long view, that slow and steady wins the race. I want to read it to you.
The Hare & the Tortoise by Aesops Fables
A Hare was making fun of the Tortoise one day for being so slow.
“Do you ever get anywhere?” he asked with a mocking laugh.
“Yes,” replied the Tortoise, “and I get there sooner than you think. I’ll run you a race and prove it.”
The Hare was much amused at the idea of running a race with the Tortoise, but for the fun of the thing he agreed. So the Fox, who had consented to act as judge, marked the distance and started the runners off.
The Hare was soon far out of sight, and to make the Tortoise feel very deeply how ridiculous it was for him to try a race with a Hare, he lay down beside the course to take a nap until the Tortoise should catch up.
The Tortoise meanwhile kept going slowly but steadily, and, after a time, passed the place where the Hare was sleeping. But the Hare slept on very peacefully; and when at last he did wake up, the Tortoise was near the goal. The Hare now ran his swiftest, but he could not overtake the Tortoise in time. **Moral of the story: The race is not always to the swift.**
Can I be honest with you? I hate this story. I am the hare. I work fast, haphazardly, chaotically. I prefer to sprint than to run the endurance race. I will never run a marathon because I don’t even like to drive 26 miles yet alone run it. The thought of going slowly, methodically, and taking the long view of life is really difficult for me.
I skipped my senior year of high school, and went straight to college. I left college after Fall of senior year to move to DC to intern because I was ready to start working. I have a hard time doing anything slowly. If there’s a way to microwave life – I’d use it!
But, the older I get the more I’m realizing that the years, by God’s grace, keep coming and that when I set a lot of crazy, hard to attain, short term goals, fail, and then spend months and months trying to recover from that failure. I end up acting just like the hare in the fable. I go work crazy fast for a few weeks, then I have to take a week off to recover. I’d crash diet – cutting food groups and making rules – to the extreme, but I could only do that for a few weeks. Then I’d “fall off” the proverbial wagon, get frustrated that I failed, AGAIN, and go months before trying to make my eating habits healthier again.
It would have been better for me to do things slowly and methodically – not as radically, and in the same amount of time I may have made it further with less drama and energy expended. Like the case of my food habits – it would have been better for me to slowly cut out sweets, then add more vegetables, then cut back on chips . . .in a gradual progression that I could sustain—than it is for me to crash and then BURN.
So back to HUSHING your Hustle. . . To me the word hustle inherently means ACT like the Hare. I decided to look it up to see what it meant to Webster in the dictionary and here’s what he said “Hustle: To force (someone) to move hurriedly or unceremoniously in a specified direction.” – that’s when it’s used as a verb. As a noun it means “Busy movement and activity.”
And friend, you have to understand I love the hustle. I love to be productive, get things done. I enjoy the challenge of trying to juggle too much. I’m one of those people that does better when I have a lot to do. But, I’m realizing that not all of my “busy-ness” is actually productive and not all of my hustle is energy that’s going to the things that are most important, things that are of lasting significance.
Hush your hustle by taking the long view of life and reminding yourself of these other two things. First, life is short and our time is limited. BUT, trying to do all the things at once and having a roller coaster life of hustle, then stop, then hustle, then stop, is ultimately wearing on your body and your soul.
I know God wants us to work hard, be industrious. Glorify him in our work and be as scripture says – a workman approved. God doesn’t want us to be slackards are lazy. BUT, I don’t think God wants us to work ourselves to the point of exhaustion and burn out, over and again, where consistency becomes impossible.
3) Find rest.
When you’re hustling rest becomes a nice buzz word. Sometimes, I personally know, I’ve used rest to “plan my next season or day of hustle.” I’ve used days off to sit and dream of all I could accomplish when I got back to work. I’ve used vacations to plan all I would accomplish in the next year. I’ve physically stepped away from my work to take kids to the pool or take a walk with a friend—but mentally, I never left my work. I kept my head in the hustle.
This isn’t resting.
Rest is hard when you’re hustling. I think hustling is a bit like a drug for some of us. We get the adrenaline rushing and we get so busy, things start moving fast, and we enjoy the rush. To intentionally get off the roller coaster for a day feels like we’d slow down our progress, lose momentum.
I worked in politics for a number of years. I started working on Capitol Hill when I was twenty years old and from my job as deputy press secretary for a U.S. Congressman I decided that I wanted to do campaign work. I dreamt of being this big time campaign manager who came up with awesome winning strategies and called all the shots. I left the Hill to go to graduate school and pursued a degree in Public Policy with a Political Management concentration to help me become this kind of campaign manager. And, when I was ¾ of the way finished with my Master’s, I got a phone call about a job in Abilene Texas. A candidate needed a campaign manager and they wanted me to move half way across the country to help this guy win a seat in the U.S. Congress.
And, I did it. I’d never been to Abilene Texas before – I lived in Texas when I was a baby but had never been there in my adult life. I was 24 years old and my parents and brother drove me and all my worldly possessions from the East Coast to Abilene, and they left me there.
For the next 11 months, I hustled. We worked 12-15 hours a day. It was not unusual for me to get home from work at 9pm and be back at work at 6:30 the next morning. If we had events in other areas, we’d get home at midnight sometimes only to have to be up early the next morning for a breakfast meeting or another trip somewhere. I worked and I worked. I hustled and I hustled.
And, in many ways I loved campaign life. It was a rush. There was lots of drama. Lots of ups and downs. Our race was one of the most watched in the country so I travelled all over Texas doing events with some of the most prominent political people from that era. I’d get phone calls from people whose names you’d recognize asking me how the race was going or YELLING at me because they didn’t like our fundraising or polling numbers and they wanted us to do better.
I did this from January to November, election day – the day we lost by a few thousand votes. My hustle wasn’t enough. And all of our work, all of my life for 11 months was gone in an instant. The morning after the election I drove over to our campaign headquarters around 10am to find my boss—the candidate, throwing everything from the building away in a fit of mania. He was angry and disappointed and – although I do believe God ultimately decides who are leaders will be — I felt like I let my candidate down. In politics there’s an expression – if you win, the candidate gets the credit. If you lose, the campaign manager gets the blame. I wasn’t sure if I could ever even get another campaign job after the loss. My career dreams were somewhat shattered and I had nothing to show for almost a year of my life.
A few years later I did go get another campaign job—I took another U.S. Congressional race where our headquarters were based in Muskogee Oklahoma. But, we lost a late primary on that one earlier so my hustle only lasted 5 months there.
While hustling in these jobs I didn’t really have any other life. I didn’t have friends aside from the people I worked 14 hour days with. I didn’t date—and what I really wanted was to be married. My relationship with Jesus was really stalled out –I didn’t spend time reading the Bible except for occasionally at night as I was falling asleep in my pillow, exhausted. Praying focused pretty much on the campaign and whatever the crisis of the day was.
Through my thirties I would have told you this is how I work best. That I do best with spurts of activity and then months off. Even when I had a more “normal” job – I’d relish the busy seasons and feel bored during the slow times. But, now I see how harmful this was to my body. All the long seasons of stress and then recovery actually hurt my adrenal glands to the point where right after I turned 40 I started having related health issues.
I think God designed us to do diligent work and rest. Not to sprint and collapse through life.
Rest – that’s what we were talking about here in point three of how to Hush Your Hustle – I’m starting to understand more why God was so serious about the Sabbath in the Old Testament and how regular rest—not just in the form of not working or heading out of town for a day –but rest where we are intentionally connecting with God—is vital for our long term health and our long range productivity.
We’re going to talk more about rest in a two part episode on busyness in a few weeks – but for today let me leave you with this thought. If your hustle doesn’t allow you to rest, there’s a good chance you’re chasing an idol.
When we’re chasing hard after God – if our hustle is for his kingdom and eternal significance – he affords us the opportunity to take the break and restore ourselves in and through him.
Likewise, if we are working with him as our strength, we don’t fear that we’ll run out of energy if we stop. If we’re trusting him to help us make progress and leaning on him for the results of our hustle – then rest is easy. Remember, Jesus yoke is easy and his burden is light. If your HUSTLE doesn’t match this description –then stop and ask yourself what exactly you’re chasing and why.
Too often, we chase this elusive concept of better. We don’t actually know exactly where we want to go or how we’ll get there – and so organizing ourselves to start hustling seems like a great idea. But, then we get started hustling and what happens? Too often – we either don’t make the goals we set so we feel like we have to hustle longer and harder – OR, we reach them and we get SO caught up in the hustle that we feel like we can’t stop. We have to keep going. If we could do that awesome by putting in 9 hours a day, why not put in 10 hours a day and see even better results? Or, let me bring this down to terms for some of you who have yo-yo dieted and over-exercised your way through life as I have – if I could workout for an hour a day and lose 5 pounds a month, why not work out for 2 hours a day and lose more? Or cut more calories and lose more weight? Friends, whenever I hear someone’s story of battling anorexia I get it. I also truly understand the addict’s challenge as well. It’s hard to stop once you get something going and it’s making you feel good. For some of us, hustling is a drug that God wants us to quit so we can find rest in him.
I know – there are voices everywhere telling you to hustle. Chances are there are voices inside your head coaching you to hustle – to be better, do better, try harder – but today, my encouragement for you is to stop and check your hustle. If it’s gotten too loud –it’s probably drowning out the voice of the Holy Spirit in your heart. Hush your hustle so you can rest. Hush your hustle so you can find peace and contentment. Joy doesn’t come when you accomplish all the goals on your list my friend, joy comes with you find your hope in Christ alone.
That’s all for today’s episode. Thanks for listening.
#143 in Australia
Used with permission by Heather Creekmore of Compared to Who? Learn more about the ministry of Compared to Who? at https://www.comparedtowho.me.