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The False ‘Gospel of Hustle’

Author Kate Bowler, associate professor at Duke Divinity School, has fresh insights on the “Gospel of Hustle” that has pervaded American culture for decades. She laments popular, accepted axioms like “everything is possible if you will only believe” and "everything you need is already inside of you”.

She says, “American culture has popular theories about how to build a perfect life. You can have it all if you just learn how to conquer your limits. There is infinity lurking somewhere at the bottom of your inbox or in the stack of self-help books on the bedside table.”

At age 35, Bowler was diagnosed with incurable stage IV colon cancer, which caused her to rethink ideas about hustle culture--doing more, pushing more to achieve success. She wonders what “enoughness” feels like. She has been able to manage her cancer with immunotherapy and has a new perspective:

We are believers in the gospel of hustle, the gospel of efficiency and the gospel of time management. We are convinced that we need to just discipline ourselves into better routines. But the whole idea of a formula breaks down when it can't solve the problem of being a person. It doesn't solve the problem of pain. For example, the gospel of hustle, the more I worked, the more work I got. Even success looks like failure, and I was just trying to get to the end of the mythical workday.

Possible Preaching Angle:

This is exactly why Solomon mourned the futility of life in Ecclesiastes. The ultimate answer to life is not found in working harder, but in what Jesus said, “Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

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