LET’S GET LITERARY: To Hell with the Hustle: Reclaiming Your Life in an Overworked, Overspent, and Overconnected World by Jefferson Bethke

“No, that’s not the way of Jesus. That’s not the speed of Jesus. That’s not the cadence of Jesus. To hell with the hustle. I’ll take Him instead.”

jefferson bethke, To hell With the Hustle

This book is good.

I don’t mean the “yeah, it is a good read” kind of good. I mean the “wow, what an honest, underline-every-other-sentence, hallelujah-and-amen” kind of good.

Jefferson Bethke truly hits the nail on the head with this one. And his timing could not be any better — our culture needs this book now more than ever.

We are obsessed.

Obsessed with doing more.

Obsessed with getting more.

Obsessed with making more.

Obsessed with being more.

If it were a color, more would be the new black. It’s in style now, and I’m afraid it may never be out of style again. We have come to see more as best. We view it as the ultimate goal for our lives. We think once we reach this goal, we will be satisfied — whole. But, we will never reach it. More isn’t finite.

There will always be more.

More to do.

More to get.

More to make.

More to be.

This is flawed thinking, and Bethke calls it for what is — absolutely absurd.

Our culture beats into us the belief that our lives will be richer and better and more meaningful, and we will finally flourish, finally reach our best selves, when we remove all obstacles and limits standing in our way.”

Jefferson Bethke, To Hell with the Hustle

Bethke is right. We focus on removing obstacles and getting our next fix of more in our lives because we think we are climbing our way up a ladder to reach our ultimate self.

He also points out the one thing that is most guilty in aiding and abetting us in our attempts to capture more technology. The world is, as Bethke puts it, “now at our fingertips at all times.” It’s easier than ever to access more. On our smartphones. On our computers. In our cars. Everywhere we go, technology is there — holding out a silver platter of more to satiate our appetite.

We’ve become preoccupied with ourselves. What we do, who we are, and the things we achieve. We’ve traded in genuine relationships with our neighbors for a larger online “friend” base on social media platforms. We view quantity as more successful than quality.

“We wander, trying to ‘find ourselves.’ Yet, self-discovery in our culture is just another way to self-destruction.”

Jefferson Bethke, to Hell with the Hustle

We are so incredibly bent on reaching our “goal self,” we push ourselves to unbelievable, and often inhuman, limits. Bethke sums this up perfectly:

“Our modus operandi is to push the limits as far as they can go, and when we hit a wall, we find some chemical or drug to step in and help us artificially push further.”

Jefferson Bethke, To Hell with the Hustle

He also warns us that by doing this, we are essentially playing god:

“Because gods don’t have limits, and humans do. And we’d much rather be the former.”

Jefferson Bethke, To Hell with the Hustle

We’re forcing ourselves to live outside our limits. We’re pushing our capacity as humans up against a wall. So we’re tired and ultimately, burned out.

Bethke encourages us to say ‘sayonara’ to the chaos and instead embrace shalom (peace).

“True shalom carries weight. It means to have the teeth to destroy the authority of chaos”

Jefferson Bethke, To Hell with the Hustle

(I know, I’m quoting this book a ton! But like I said, it’s unbelievably quotable! And you know what? I’ve only summed up three of the total eight chapters so far. I’m telling you, this book is gold.)

So what does Bethke talk about next?


We’ve become accustomed to loud noises. We love the hustle and bustle of cities. We enjoy listening to our music at a level that drowns everything else out. In fact, whether we realize it or not, we prefer it this way.

Because silence is scary. Bethke tells us:

“Silence and solitude are like a graveyard for all the worst in you and yourself.”

Jefferson Bethke, To Hell with the Hustle

Boom. Truth bomb.

He’s right, y’all. And that’s not the most shocking part:

“And if we want to live into our true selves, the ones Jesus created us to be, we have to enter through the graveyard. We have to take ourselves to the desert.”

Jefferson Bethke, To Hell with the Hustle

Yup. He said it. Did you cringe a little?

I did.

I cringed a lot.

We crave nothing more than to be the person our Creator has created us to be. But we also don’t want to sit in complete silence — where we can’t hide behind the noise or drown out the thoughts we’ve been pushing down inside — to discover that person.

Bethke assures us that with practice, the silence becomes bearable. And eventually, it becomes peaceful, renewing, and fulfilling.

“And in that silence you’ll find a space where your old self begins to suffocate, your new self begins to be renewed, and the truth of God begins to slowly but surely fill and desire and recalibrate your humanness — the self that walked out of the grave with Jesus two thousand years ago to new life, pacing and directing toward the new Jerusalem where all is put back together once and for all.”

Jefferson Bethke, To Hell with the Hustle

Now isn’t that something?

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “how does anyone find time to sit in silence with God for minutes let alone hours?!”

Well, Bethke might also be a mind reader! His next chapter addresses time. How to make time, how to use time wisely, and more importantly — saying “no” to things that aren’t worth your time. Here are some awesome things Bethke has to say in this chapter:

“Time is what makes us tick.”

Jefferson Bethke, To Hell with the Hustle

“Our desire to control time, to gain precision, has changed us in more ways than we recognize. At first, our machines operated like “clockwork.” Now it’s us.”

Jefferson Bethke, To Hell with the Hustle

“If you’re not saying no to dang good things, you’re probably not saying no enough.”

Jefferson Bethke, To Hell with the Hustle

(Y’all know I’m going to keep quoting this book like it’s nobody’s business!)

Bethke kills it in this chapter. It’s probably my favorite one of all eight of his chapters in this book. Why? He delivers one heck of a wake up call to his readers.

We are controlled by time, yet we also want to control time ourselves. It makes us crazy. It makes our lives hectic. But being busy has become “cool.” We secretly love to show off our full schedules and overwhelming to-do lists. It’s like the more we have going on, the more successful we feel.

But this is wrong. And Bethke let’s us know it is. He reminds his readers that saying “no” is not only okay, but should also be the default answer to invitations. Check out what he says about how is family does this:

“We now have to be convinced before we say yes to something, which is quite different from needing a good reason to say no.”

Jefferson Bethke, To Hell with the Hustle

Bethke reminds us of how Jesus managed His time. He didn’t have a packed schedule and He wasn’t in a hurry to get where He was headed. He left a TON of blank space in His planner! This allowed Him to often be interrupted by the coolest people needing some pretty awesome things — like miracles!! Yes, many of the miracles Jesus performed occurred when He wasn’t “on schedule” — He performed these miracles by having extra time to spare on His journey.

Don’t you love it? It totally defies societal norms, and it’s so refreshing. We should be leaving more white space in our planners — more “nothing to do” slots of time.

Aren’t we all striving to be like Jesus? Shouldn’t we be following His example with our use of time?

Bethke isn’t telling us to go and try to perform miracles or anything crazy. In fact, in the next chapter he tells us the opposite. He reminds us that God isn’t sitting on the edge of His seat waiting for us to do the “next big thing.” In fact, Bethke insists that boring is holy.

“You don’t ever have to do anything sensational in order to love or to be loved. The goal of life is not to be dramatic, noticed, striking, eye-catching, breathtaking, glorious, remarkable, or fantastic. God already notices you. His eye is caught by you. You take His breath away. You are full of His glory.”

Jefferson Bethke, To Hell with the Hustle

We don’t have to be wildly successful in a career, constantly volunteering in ministry, or insta-famous to gain God’s attention and do His work. In fact, we will probably do His work better when we forget about those things entirely. Bethke makes a great statement:

“The goal of following Jesus isn’t to do a bunch of things. It’s to become a type of person.”

Jefferson Bethke, To Hell with the Hustle

Jesus doesn’t want us to check off items on a to-do list. He wants us to become transformed into the person He created us to be.

Bethke wraps up the last two chapters talking about ways to accomplish becoming the person Jesus wants to see.

He talks about the Sabbath and how our culture has forgotten all about it. But Bethke reminds us how important rest it truly is.

“So when we talk about Sabbath, it’s about the deep sense of joy and filling and celebration. It’s set apart and different. It is the day of rest, but not in the sense of ‘let’s sit there and eat potato chips all day and do nothing.’”

Jefferson Bethke, To Hell with the Hustle

Our society has a “work, then rest” mentality. Bethke points out how backwards this thinking is. God created us to rest, then work. We should be resting so we can work, not working so we get to rest!

The last chapter talks about empathy — a sensation almost unrecognizable in today’s culture. Bethke warns us against falling into the trap of pseudo tribes.

“We start trying to find people who look like us, talk like us, dress like us, act like us, and believe what we believe.”

Jefferson Bethke, To Hell with the Hustle

So in a world where there is a “left” and a “right” in almost everything — politics, economics, theology, etc., Bethke encourages his readers to take a step back and do what Jesus would do — literally:

“So as followers of Jesus, we especially have to lean into the tension and give people the most gracious interpretation of their words.”

Jefferson Bethke, To Hell with the Hustle

We are fearful of what the “other side” believes. The things they say scare us. Bethke reminds us that we get angry and uptight because we are frightened, and we think they are our enemy.

Forget that. Forget fear. Bethke encourages us to replace that fear with love and empathy. He encourages us to do as Jesus did, move as He did, and love as He does.

One last quote of from amazing book will sum up everything you need to know:

“Because you can’t love someone when you are hustling. And you can’t love someone when you are going too fast. But when you say no to the hustle? You can be stopped. You can step into the holy moment of grace. Jesus did it. He felt other people’s pain. He leaned into their space. He understood their hurt. He waited and didn’t hustle past. He loved.”

Jefferson Bethke, To Hell with the Hustle

This awesome book is available for pre-order now. And it officially releases for retail sale TOMORROW. I encourage all of you to get a copy of this book for yourself. You’ll want to read it. And then read it again. I promise you.


2 thoughts on “LET’S GET LITERARY: To Hell with the Hustle: Reclaiming Your Life in an Overworked, Overspent, and Overconnected World by Jefferson Bethke”

  1. Really enjoyed this read. I have this book on my desk as we speak and this just lit a fire under me to get it started!


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