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“Hustle culture is not only NOT a virtue, but also actually a VICE” with Author Jefferson Bethke

That hustle culture is not only not a virtue, but also actually a vice. It’s killing us and eroding our humanness at the deepest levels. We are created for deeper, more meaningful, richer, and more anchored connections, relationships and moments. The hustle culture just simply does not put us there or point us in that […]


That hustle culture is not only not a virtue, but also actually a vice. It’s killing us and eroding our humanness at the deepest levels. We are created for deeper, more meaningful, richer, and more anchored connections, relationships and moments. The hustle culture just simply does not put us there or point us in that direction. We lose our humanness the more we go down that route and become more and more ghostly — light, airy, thin, non-substance creatures. But, there is a beautiful and compelling antithesis and that’s leaning into the things we actually currently believe are curses (silence, obscurity, etc.) and viewing them as blessings.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jefferson Bethke. Jefferson is the New York Times bestselling author of “Jesus > Religion and It’s Not What You Think,” who became an overnight YouTube sensation when his four-minute video, Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus, went viral across the digital world, garnering some six millions views within three days of its release. Since then, the movie short has been viewed by more than 34 million people around the world. Bethke and his wife, Alyssa, host The Real Life Podcast each week as well as help run Family Teams, an online initiative to help families flourish. They live in Maui with their daughters, Kinsley and Lucy, and son, Kannon. In his groundbreaking new book, “To Hell with the Hustle: Reclaiming Your Life in an Overworked, Overspent, and Overconnected World,” Bethke provides readers with helpful ways they can shift their focus from the hustle of overconnectivity to living a life that’s full of purpose and meaning. The title will release October 15, 2019 via Thomas Nelson and is available now for preorder.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?

Hey, thanks for having me! It’s so fun being able to talk about all of this. And yes, being an author happened in a more unique way than usual. I had a video go viral about eight years ago and through that there was some interest from folks asking if I wanted to write a book. Now, there was also some skepticism because not every YouTuber is cut out to write a book. Thankfully, I really seemed to enjoy it and like it, and folks seemed to enjoy my first book enough as well to keep doing it! Now, I see being an author as the main thing I do and love unpacking ideas via the written word.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

Well, that first book sure was a whirlwind! I was only 23 years old and it debuted on the New York Times Best Seller list and stayed there for 10 weeks! The hard part, is that I thought that was normal. Until my next book came out…ha! I actually talk about that whole story and how much I had to process and learn from debuting with so much success but then transitioning to healthier metrics such as power of words, impact, and other things.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

It was a tiny gaffe but it was pretty funny. My wife and I co-authored a book a bit ago called “Love That Lasts,” and the host asked us ‘where can we find a Love That Lasts?’ and she meant as in where can we find healthy relationships or what is the key, but since we were in promo mode, we thought she meant retailers, so we said ‘you know, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and everywhere else!’ Not what I think she meant by the question 🙂 So, what I’ve learned now is to think a little longer before I speak and really be present in every moment even when the whirlwind around a book launch picks up!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I help run an online initiative called Family Teams, that is an all-encompassing resource hub (books, live events, courses, etc.) helping families opt out of the western family experiment and say yes to being a multi-generational family team on mission! It’s super fun and I love doing this work and love the tribe we are creating over there.

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?

Good question. Not sure if I’ve ever given that question a ton of thought! I do think that one thing I work really hard on is to read really, really, widely in order to then hopefully synthesize from a broad spectrum of genres and ideas into a conversational easy to read big idea book. So, maybe I’d say dedicating a lot of time to reading and learning. Which is funny and seems counter intuitive to writing, but for me, all books I write start with me reading a ton of books first. I try to read about two books a week (which by the way, is not a lot! If people only read about an hour a day and put down our phones, we’d be reading three to four books a week). So, I don’t know if this has made me a great writer, but it is my hope and what I work really hard at. What I’ve noticed is if I spend a lot of time learning and researching and thinking about all the ideas, then the writing comes a lot easier. It’s more of an overflow rather than pulling teeth trying to find the words. Another tip is JUST WRITE. Never use the delete or backspace button. That’s the editor’s job, not yours. It’s way too hard to write and edit at the same time. It’s so easy now that we write electronically to just put it all down on the paper and can delete later!

Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in “To Hell with the Hustle?”

I can! Well, I’ll give some hints and maybe leave the rest of the story for the book? 🙂 Mainly because it’s multi-pages long…ha! But one of my favorite stories I uncovered, or concept, was how our modern view of time (chronological, able to be measured in tiny precise microseconds, and absolutely true for everyone) is a relatively new idea! Or, one that’s only been as pressing as it is for about 150 to 200 years. And we didn’t create our system of time keeping out of need for time keeping, it was actually the trains that preceded it and forced us to standardize time because trains made the world global and not just local for the first time. Also, right around this time, standardized time was really tough to come by, but an enormous asset. So time, for a while, was actually bought and sold! So, so fascinating. Google Ruth Belville and you can learn more. Or, read chapter three of my book 🙂

What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?

That hustle culture is not only not a virtue, but also actually a vice. It’s killing us and eroding our humanness at the deepest levels. We are created for deeper, more meaningful, richer, and more anchored connections, relationships and moments. The hustle culture just simply does not put us there or point us in that direction. We lose our humanness the more we go down that route and become more and more ghostly — light, airy, thin, non-substance creatures. But, there is a beautiful and compelling antithesis and that’s leaning into the things we actually currently believe are curses (silence, obscurity, etc.) and viewing them as blessings.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming a bestselling author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?

Ah, man, this is a tough question for me. See earlier answer. I have more of a backwards journey where I most likely had my most numerical success at the age of 23 and probably won’t be able to repeat that for the rest of my life. That’s something to wrestle with that can eat at a soul unless my identity is anchored in something more secure and centering, like my identity as a child of God known by Jesus. What I’ve learned is that success or failure is not predictable and so up-and-down. To put our identity in that is a sure path to ruin. But instead, knowing that I’m a child of God and that new creation has been born in me and the world through Jesus, I can then be set free to put my identity not in my work or accomplishments, but just be faithful to the calling and the vocation of it.

Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?

I honestly read just about every genre out there! I will say though that my favorite is what I call ‘Malcolm Gladwell type books.’ I LOVE big ideas and unusual connections so books of that nature are my favorite. People like Jonah Lehrer, Derek Thompson, and others.

How do you think your writing makes an impact in the world?

Too tough of a question for me to answer. I’d love to see maybe a few people who’ve read some of my books answer that one!

What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an author like you?

Just write, and write, and write some more. Not to accomplish or gain some achievement, but to write because you’ll go crazy if you don’t. Either with a big idea or a story and world in your head. See writing as eating and a daily discipline. Create a small word count for each day and just write…about anything! Flex the muscle and you will get stronger.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Honestly, I’m doing what I hope that to be! Not sure I can say it’s working or not, but it’s my vision and dream that it does! And that’s the Family Teams initiative I mentioned previously. To recapture families hearts to become powerful teams with a mission, instead of family just being a stepping-stone to your individual success.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

IG is @jeffersonbethke and family teams is at @familyteams. We hangout and chat there the most!

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